The amount of acts playing Austin during SXSW was staggering.
Every broom closet with a power source was stuffed with a band ready to play their songs. But I can’t help think that many bands are pulled into the vortex of SXSW too soon.
During one of the music panels, a panelist brought up a band he’d met from Singapore that had spent over $10,000 getting to SXSW and had expected to simply show up and have the industry there to greet them. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
If you want to get the maximum Return On Investment (ROI) then you need to be building up heat BEFORE you get to Austin. Blog buzz, radio play, an amazing manager, and more than just one showcase are critical to seeing that ROI for your SXSW experience.
Of course you will meet great people there that can help your career but dragging a music industry type to a showcase with nothing more than a promise of a great band is unlikely to persuade them. Even bribing people with free beer and free food doesn’t cut it anymore.
For anyone to be involved with your music, you have to create a buzz around your own before the world will be interested. SXSW is no different.
Start today by writing a great song. The inverted pyramid of the music biz always starts with great music. Great music gets people excited and at festivals like SXSW that excitement can be exchanged for much bigger things.
So the ROI of SXSW is really less about the cash investment, but rather the time and music investment you’ve put into your music. Write great music, start the buzz, and then come to SXSW for a great ROI.