I understand the temptation. You’re a young and hungry band at SXSW and you have thousands upon thousands of music fans and industry folks streaming down 6th street and the neighbouring blocks of Austin. But blindly handing out CDs or download cards does not, and will not work.
Just like in the real world, here at SXSW, you have to find your audience. But where are they?
If you’re showcasing, then at your showcase is definitely a great place to start. But if you’re not, perhaps heading to a more popular band’s gig and engaging people in real conversation and handing out your download cards there.
Handing out download cards to a line up of people who are waiting for free food will most likely get you nowhere. Your cards will be thrown in the garbage. True story.
Free music as a novelty has worn off…. in 2004. Now in 2012 people EXPECT free downloads, especially in a musically saturated scene like Austin is this week. You’ve got to find your fans, and give them something they need. People will accept your card, but that is as far as you’ll get with them. If you’ve only spent 2 seconds handing them a download card than they will spend as much time with your product. Most of the time not even looking at your band’s name.
Use your head, be real, and connect with your fans. It may sound obvious but there are many artists who are still oblivious to this knowledge. Don’t be one of them.