Words of Advice For Young SXSW Promoters :
1. Don’t refer to gender when putting feelers out to book a band you like. It’s probably not intentional but no one wants to feel like a side of beef or a marketing ploy. At this point saying the “Girls of SXSW” makes you sound like Larry Flynt and last I checked, the 80s are LONG OVER for a lot of people.
2. Don’t use the word “exposure” in your communication, EVER. If musicians wanted a life of exposure they would have become strippers. The word exposure evokes a certain negative feeling among musicians that’s right up there with that one drunk Chunklet reading dick in the front row shouting “Free Bird” over and over again.
3. Have a Google Calendar and get every artist’s email involved with the event added to a shared Calendar with their updated contact information. Most Google stuff is free so there’s no excuse and it works on a Windows or Mac device. If you don’t know technology, figure it out and go buy one of those books on digital lifestyles for dummies. Be a member of the 21st Century and be anti-luddite for 14 days. Example: More than likely one of your booked artists will let the “you’re band is really great” bullshit go to their head and make bad decisions. You’re going to need to get a hold of them at some point and remember that when they are stranded in Round Rock re-enacting the fire-cracker scene from “Boogie Nights”.
4. Do drugs on your own time. Sure, it’s SXSW, but music fans like it when when a event is run like a tight ship and artists will appreciate the effort. Not everyone in a band is a slobbering cave person with a substance abuse problem. This will go well for you in the future and bands will want to do your party again if you decide to do the same event next year. Over-indulging leads to bad decisions most of the time. I don’t care how nice you are, if you vomit on a band’s gear or you hit on a musician’s partner, remember this: Bands talk to each other and people WILL find out.
5. Have a back up plan and back up plans for back up plans. Be prepared for bands that flake, get better event offers, and not show up so don’t talk shit unless they are just complete and total jerks. At that point, talk shit after the fest and post how you feel on their Facebook wall.
6. Don’t take anything personally.
7. Get a liquor sponsorship. If you can’t get a sponsorship, find something you can give away. People like free music and they also like free stuff. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate either. Make a small zine about your favorite bands or make a physical mix tape. It doesn’t matter but try to make something that will help you stand out from all of the other bullshit going on that week. Stickers. Download Cards. Crochet’d Cthulhu Dolls. ANYTHING.
8. Start booking things out in November and don’t over promise things to the people involved. At the very least, get everything going in late December or early January (at the latest) but do plan ahead.
9. The bands aren’t getting paid and neither are you. In fact, you’re going to lose money so don’t bitch about it. Throw the raddest party with the bands you want to see and be okay with that. If you’re making a party for any reason other than having an amazing time, forget it, sit at home and throw on the Netflix. You’re not the next Todd P. and you certainly aren’t Bill Graham. (Look it up if you don’t know who that is.)
10. I can’t stress this enough: BUY a PA or at the very least get a rental, and reserve it in December, or find a venue with a decent PA. P.S. don’t rent some super small thing either, get something that is loud enough that Buzz Osbourne says “cool, I can feel that in my balls”.
11. Keep things at the event on schedule or as close to on schedule as you possibly can. A lot of bands have other stuff going on so keep that in mind and try to be as amiable as possible. Again, don’t take it personally. Also, don’t make late additions because they’re your friends and try to bully you into it. Your friend’s band sucks and you know it so tell them no or they wouldn’t need to bulldoze your party. Also, don’t try to book “cooler” bands at the last minute over the bands you have already committed to your event. Build mystique and tell those bands you’re interested in booking them for your party next year.
12. Don’t EVER hit on the bands. It’s weird and creepy.
13. No one cares who you know and they never will. IE name dropping. It’s the sign of an insecure person who doesn’t believe in what they’re doing.
14. Make posters and put them up. Do it. Everyone will have a million Facebook Event Page invites during this time. You’ll get the “screw this social media crap” crowd and your hatred for technology will be vindicated.
15. Back to the time thing: Bands get a short set up time and a 25 to 30 minute set. PERIOD. Be a dick and let bands know that this is non-negotiable. They’re not Led Zeppelin. Keep wire cutters in your back pocket and don’t be afraid to cut cables. Also, stay close to the power in case you need to turn that shit off. Have a really big tough dude around in case you do need to resort to the wire cutters. Have them pick up scrawny strung out musician number 459 and put them in their place. You probably shouldn’t do this but do be prepared to be a dick.
16.. For god’s sake HAVE FUN.
Words of Advice for Bands at SXSW.
1. Be nice. I can’t stress this enough. BE NICE. No one wants to deal with your diva ass and there’s only one Beyonce’ and quite frankly, that’s enough. (I will pay someone 5 dollars to start yelling out Mariah Carey song requests at her shows if she’s actually playing this year.) That also means be nice to your fans no matter how “un-cool” you think they are. You were never cool either, that’s why you started a band. You have a shitty personality and you’re using music to make up for it so embrace it.
2. A lot of people are not going to be at your show. Beyonce’ is playing 12 shows that week and every single one of her shows are at the same time as yours. This is the case more often than not. Put on a great show and suck it up regardless. Play to that one person like it’s a million people, like your life depends on it. Pretend you’re opening for your favorite band. Whatever gets you through the set but make it happen.
3. No one cares who you know and they never will. IE name dropping. It makes people think your band is where it’s at because you secretly suck and only have good connections.
4. Don’t take anything personally.
5. Don’t over indulge. Don’t drink a shit ton or do a bunch of drugs before your show. There are people there to see you and they didn’t come all of that way to see you struggle through your set because you’re not a grown up about what you do.
6. Parking will suck so I recommend a buddy system and I recommend getting to destinations early. This is not the time to do the fashionably late shit, it’s stupid and unprofessional. One person stays with the car, the other people start loading out the gear, said person goes and finds parking. You WILL pay for parking.
7. Don’t ask for a bunch of money because NO ONE HAS ANY. You’re making music because you love it and you’ll go crazy if you don’t. Also, DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW THE EVENT WAS PROMOTED. It’s SXSW, people, if you haven’t noticed there are about a million events going on. Don’t talk about how you don’t get paid. Don’t talk about how much you got paid to DJ some private party either, it’s gross.
8. You’re not getting a record deal with (blank) by playing SXSW, let’s get that out of the way. Again, enjoy what you can get out of the festival but you’re not going to get some A&R guy from Sub Pop mentally jacking you off. If you get someone like that, run away.
9. Be careful about the love vibes when you’re at SXSW. The stastics show that Austin has a high herpes infection rate so keep that in mind. You want to re-enact Caligula? Okay, that’s fine, it’s a sort of free country but you can’t say you weren’t warned.
10. Have something as cheap as possible to sell to people.
11. Play unofficial shows but don’t play too many. Playing 15 shows in 3 days is how bands break up so don’t do it.
12. As a band, be nice to each other. SXSW is a total cluster fuck, let’s get real. Eat well, don’t eat a bunch of breakfast tacos or fast food and bring a bunch of Emergen-C.
13. Don’t hit on promoters, it’s weird and creepy.
14. Don’t yell at sound people. No one at SXSW has good sound. It’s 100 make shift shanty town temporary bars with terrible acoustics. Check all Diva behavior at the van, no one needs or wants to see any of that shit.
15. Check your gear and make sure it works BEFORE you get to town. Also, don’t leave it out for people to fuck with and for god’s sake ALWAYS LOCK THE VAN. People are dicks and they will steal your gear, especially in a city with broke musicians. DON’T LOCK YOUR KEYS IN THE VAN.
16. Set up your shit during the band playing before you’re supposed to go on at the very latest or set it up as soon as you arrive to your destination. This makes things go faster for the promoter and for the other bands. It’s a nice thing to do and weeds out bands that are only interested in shitty garage rock, cocaine, and herpes.
17. Don’t complain if you’re playing with your favorite band and they leave. It’s a really busy time and it’s nothing personal.
18. Don’t ask at the last minute if you can be added to a show. If they wanted you, the promoter would have asked.
19. For god’s sake HAVE FUN.