I wasn’t even planning on going to SXSW this year until a few weeks ago but I am very glad I did. The Music Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas has so much to offer anyone in the music industry whether you are an artist, fan, A&R, journalist, promoter, etc. I didn’t know what to expect because I have attended other festivals and conferences of all sizes across the country. Let’s just say I was not prepared for everything SXSW had to offer. As I sit in the airport and type this up, I am trying to remember everything that happened from March 15 – March 20 because it was a lot. I was shocked by the amount of free events and merch at SXSW. I was able to see a lot of dope acts without the official SXSW music pass. It would have been nice to have for the major events but didn’t make the trip difficult at all
What I learned:
- The official music badge isn’t necessary unless you want quick access to the biggest performances.
- Make sure to have a plan because the festival is very fast-paced.
- Bring promo materials because you will meet thousands of people.
- SXSW offers endless opportunities to anyone in the music industry.
- Have your camera ready because you favorite artist will most likely be walking down the street.
- Go with friends and/or business partners.
SXSW Day 1 – March 15
I landed in Austin on Tuesday and went straight to downtown (6th Street) to see the chaos. Within minutes of being there, I realized this is the biggest music conference I have ever been to and it really didn’t even pick up until Thursday but we will get to that. I went and ditched my bag at the Ethik Clothing stage where my friends were putting on shows for the week. I grabbed slice, some business cards, my camera and headed out for the night. I linked up with my homie, Grizzly, and we hit a few hip-hop showcases then made our way to the Amplify Philly showcase at The Main. When we got there Kid Felix was performing and they were killing it. I was a fan after the first track. The hip-hop portion started shortly after and Chill Moody & Lil Dicky stole the show. Lil Dicky’s set was one of the strangest sets I have seen in a long time. The crowd sang the national anthem and happy birthday to Lil Dicky to start the show and by the end he was in his underwear throwing cake in the crowd. It was definitely entertaining. DJ Jazzy Jeff finished the night with an incredible set.
Lil Dicky SXSW 2016 (Amplify Philly Showcase)
SXSW Day 2 – March 16
I woke up later than I was hoping but I was exhausted from traveling to Texas and getting back to the hotel at 4am. We made our way back down to 6th street (that’s where everything was happening) and went directly to the Ethik Stage to see what was going on there. We stayed for a bit, watched a few performances, and then split up because he wanted to see some of the panels that I couldn’t get into. I ended up making my way to the roof of REVOLT’s venue and seeing a Kevin Gates interview live which was cool. I chopped it up with Chris Fury for a bit then went to meet up with Blaise (owner of Dip n’ Dash Clothing/Visuals) and Mr. Lotto Beatz. They had just got there so we walked around to get a sense of what was going on. We ended up scheming our way into the Mike Stud & LunchMoney Lewis show and actually met both of them. It ended up being another 4am night.
LunchMoney Lewis SXSW 2016 (Monster Outbreak Showcase)
SXSW Day 3 – March 17
Thursday was the day things started to get crazy. We got down to SXSW by 4pm and hit up the TuneCore house for free alcohol and Swisher Sweets. We watched a few acts there then hit Bat Bar for another showcase before heading back to the hotel to recharge for the night. Once we did get back downtown, it was a little to late to find a great concert so we checked out some DJs. The combination of SXSW fans and St. Patrick’s Day celebrators made it hard to walk anywhere so we ended up staying at this one venue that was bumpin’. This was probably the least exciting night of my entire trip and I still had a blast.
SXSW Day 4 – March 18
At this point, I was completely exhausted from the previous 3 days but the inspiration of SXSW had me going all night again. I started the day by checking out a few of the tents that were sponsored by apps. The tents offered free food and alcohol as long as you download their app. I then went to a daytime showcase featuring Ponce De Leioun and a few others. After that, I hit the Ethik Stage for Tommy Ill Figure and Radamiz who both put on great performances. The rest of the night was a blur of networking and showcases.
Radamiz SXSW 2016 (Ethik Clothing Showcase)
SXSW Day 5 – March 19
Since Saturday was the last day of SXSW, all of the sponsors and showcases brought out the big artists. Even the daytime shows had big name artists with free entry. I ended up going to the Worldstar showcase with my friends because that was one of the events you didn’t need an official music pass to get into. The lineup was stacked and featured artists like Scotty ATL, OT Genesis, Dave East, Too Short, Desiigner, Kevin Gates, Cam’Ron, and B.o.B as the headliner. Near the end of the show Blaise and I went upstairs to VIP to catch the final performances. After it ended, we snuck backstage and watched B.o.B. get interviewed by WorldStar which was dope to see. It was the perfect end to a great festival.
B.o.B SXSW 2016 (WorldStarHipHop Showcase)