SXSW 2017: Music Festival Tips

todayMarch 12, 2017 18

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By Cain Hernandez
Music Journalist

We are finally upon the 31st annual SXSW music festival. Every year, thousands of people are drawn to the streets of downtown Austin for a week of great food, alcohol, and live music. While some people might enjoy the interactive/film portion of the festival, this article will mainly cover music. SXSW is known for putting on hundreds of showcases across a variety of venues and spaces, and while some of these showcases are official, there are still plenty of free ‘unofficial’ showcases that don’t require a badge or wristband. It can be a little disorienting to find things to do during the festival, so this article aims to get you a head start, so you can reap the benefits of this year’s SXSW.


One of the most important things you can do, is RSVP to parties and showcases. However, RSVP’ing to a showcase doesn’t guarantee you a spot. These venues are subject to capacity, so they run on a first come first serve basis. You might not always get into the shows you were planning to attend, so if you have your sights set on something, it’s best to show up early. It may be a good idea to RSVP to a variety of things – even stuff you might not be interested in – that way you always have a backup plan if your first event doesn’t work out.  

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Save yourself the hassle and utilize helpful resources such as this list of favorite RSVPs. Photo via

Stay Up to Date

You might be wondering how to find showcases to RSVP to. In this case, Social media is an incredibly beneficial tool to keep you informed. My fellow promotions staffer Brittney (@SXBRIT) has done a great job retweeting event announcements and keeping me up to date on all SXSW happenings. Follow your favorite bands, media outlets and venues on twitter so you never miss an update or announcement.

Here are a few sites that list most of the unofficial SXSW showcases:

Check these sites regularly, as they are always adding new events.


If you’re looking to get into some official showcases, then volunteering is a great way to earn a music badge without spending over a thousand dollars. The downside, is that you’ll have to work 24 hours – or three nights – to obtain one, so you might miss some nightly events because of this. On the upside, you get to enjoy the benefits of a music badge during the day and on your days off. Unfortunately, volunteer opportunities are now closed, but keep this in mind for next year’s South By.

Archive Your Emails

Once you start RSVP’ing to shows, you will start receiving email confirmations with details on your events. Your inbox will start to fill up, and you might lose track of all the showcases you signed up for. A great way to stay organized, is to move all SXSW RSVP related emails to one specific folder. This way, you can easily find something to do once the time comes. On top of that, your inbox will be much less cluttered.

Sync Events to Your Calendar App

If you want to be even more organized, you can sync your events to your chosen calendar app (Google Calendar, Apple Calendar etc.). This will detail all your events, with their specific location and times, in your schedule. This is a much more convenient way to stay organized than scrolling through dozens of emails. If you’re are synced with Facebook, every event you mark as ‘interested’ or ‘going’ will also appear in your calendar app. It’s helpful for the showcases that require you to RSVP through Facebook, since those events won’t send you an email confirmation.

Hopefully these tips will help you through all the confusion that SXSW can sometimes induce. If you’re under 21, then make a note of these tips for future reference. Enjoy SXSW and stay safe!

Featured image by Asia Daggs.


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