Should a new band go to SXSW?
There’s a lot to think about before you decide. The amount of bands that go each year is insane. The venues are hit or miss, shows are rushed and the sound can be compromised. Almost no shows are paid unless you’re a big name and there’s a big sponsor, so you’re going to lose money right out of the gate. BUT if you have a new release with anticipation around it, money to pay for it, and an agent or someone else helping you get on the right shows, it can be very worth it. Having at least one really good look like a Fader Fort or Spotify House can push the needle for a new artist.
Sometimes, smaller shows can be unexpectedly worth it. I had an artist play a really small show that about five people came to. She wasn’t excited about it but it happened to be the one show a journalist for the New York Times was at. She was the featured artist in his story, so the show turned out to be a success. International music industry people head to SXSW for discovering music and networking, so you just might end up playing in front of someone who books a huge festival in Europe. You just never know. I think its important to be strategic and remember that you don’t want to be the band who is at SXSW every year with nothing new going on and never making an impact.
Have you gone to SXSW? Share you experience in the comment section below.
Sharyn started at the Windish Agency in Chicago at the front desk. After a year, she became the president’s personal assistant then his booking assistant, eventually working her way up to a full-blown agent with her own roster. In her six years at the agency, she has worked on tours for dozens of artist including The xx, alt-J, Hot Chip, Gotye, The Knife, and M83. Prior to Windish, Sharyn worked as an assistant talent buyer for two small venues in Chicago and did PR for a few artists. She now works in artist development for ReverbNation Connect and manages artists.