SXSW, What Exactly Is It?

Just in case you were wondering...

What is SXSW and how does it work?

South By Southwest (SXSW) is a festival that showcases the next big things in the music (March 12-16), movies (March 7-15) and interactive industries (March 7-11). Big-wigs from each of these fields come to Austin, TX once a year to view new bands (approx. 1600 or so), new movies and also experience the newest technologies in the internet and gaming world. Although it is a festival that caters maily toward those involved in the entertainment industry, many music lovers come from all over the world to take part in the festivities. Although most people who attend buy a badge ($600) or wristband ($140), one does not need these to enjoy the festival. Austin is a big city with a small town feel. Most of the music venues are small, hole-in-the-wall places which provide that intimate feeling you can't get in an arena. People with badges will get in first, followed by those with wristbands. If room permits, the public will be allowed into the showcases on a first come, first serve basis. Therefore, purchasing a badge does not guarantee your entry to these shows seeing as so many people have them and the venues can't even let all of them in. This happens mostly at the larger shows but its an example of why not to purchase one. You don't get your money's worth anymore. My advice is to go without one. You will still get into plenty of showcases and parties, and still have cash in your wallet. My friends both had wristbands last year and I didn't, I still got into all the shows I wanted to see. For the showcases at night I paid $5 one night, $10 the next night, and $20 on the third night. My advice, if you really want to see someone, get there early and get in line. Chances are, you won't be disappointed.

What is a showcase?

A showcase is a show set up by a record company, sponsors, and even bloggers. Many bands that we love from music television and radio were discovered at these SXSW showcases. Last year Amy Winehouse performed and suddenly she was everywhere! Franz Ferdinand played at Buffalo Billiards on 6th when no one knew who they were, someone saw them and the rest is history. Bloc Party even showcased their talents at the Urban Outfitters on Guadalupe across from the UT Campus before they blew up. Other than showcases, there are tons of parties - some public, some private - thrown by record labels, music magazines, sponsors or bands themselves where you can enjoy live music, free food, an open bar and sometime free stuff. Some give away better stuff like mp3 players and clothes but usually those are private parties. Keep in mind: Private doesn't always mean off-limits. Talking to people will get you everywhere. If you see anyone holding passes to a party, ask for one, what do you have to lose? If you see someone handing out free CDs or merchandise, ask for some. Just by strolling the streets you will see famous faces and might even get a pic with them. Dayshows are the seriously the best time. Most of them, you just have to RSVP to by sending them an email. They send you an email back saying "you're on the list", don't you feel cool now? We'll try our best to keep you in the loop.

I'll admit it's intimidating to see so many bands you've never heard when you're checking out the list, but do yourself a favor and do some research. We really try to make it easier for you to find "your next favorite band." If you like a band that's playing SXSW and we haven't written about them, leave us a comment or email Joel and/or Richard. If we like them too, good chance you'll see a SXSW Spotlight on our site (so everyone can see how cool they are too). Check out our links sections too, some of our fellow bloggers are also covering all of the SXSW goodness.

There is a list of all the bands, their bios, and some mp3s for free here. has links to all the band's websites here.