How to Network at SXSW 2015

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If you’re coming to South by Southwest or “SXSW” as a fan, all you have to worry about it is enjoying the performances and having a great time.  But if you’re a professional musician (or are trying to become one), SXSW is more than just fun: it’s also a pivotal, non-stop networking opportunity that could help launch your career into its next phase of development.  After all, in 2013 alone more than 57,000 people showed up to watch bands from 55 countries play on 113 stages!

That’s a lot of networking opportunities, to put it lightly.  The sheer volume of the festival can be overwhelming for first-timers and even experienced attendees, but Planetary Group can help guide your way.  In this article, we’ll cover the key 2015 SXSW industry events all musicians should be sure to check out, including the SXSW 2015 Music Conference Sessions, Demo Listening and Pitch Sessions, Music Meetups, the Music Mentor Program, and Artist Central.

audio microphone retro style

Demo Listening and Pitch Sessions

As a budding musician, you know how critical quality demos and succinct pitches are to being heard, booked, and played on the radio.  If you could get in-depth feedback on your demos and pitching skills from industry professionals, wouldn’t you be interested in hearing what they had to say?

The 2015 SXSW Demo Listening Sessions will feature a multi-panel of venue-buyers, publicists, producers, and A&R (Artists & Repertoire) representatives.  However, in order to access the Demo Listening Sessions, you’ll need to have the right registration.  To attend, you’ll need to purchase either:

  • The Music Badge:
    • Walkup — $895
    • Register by February 13 — $795
  • The Platinum Badge:
    • Walkup — $1,745
    • Register by February 13 — $1,645

The Music Supervisor Pitch Sessions are also geared toward feedback from industry experts, but with a focus on how music gets featured in movies and TV shows.  As the SXSW site describes, “You submit your song, tell us what you think it could be used in, and you’ll receive honest feedback from our panel.”

Dj hands on equipment deck and mixer with vinyl record at party

The 2015 Music Conference Sessions

If there’s one thing SXSW offers an abundance of (besides great live performances), it’s got to be conferences.  There are conferences for just about every topic you could imagine, including but not limited to:

  • Branding, Marketing, and Publicity Conferences:
    • How to Win on Streaming Services
    • In-Store Radio: 200M Potential Fans
    • I’ve Got 99 Problems, But PR Ain’t One
  • Data and Technology Conferences:
    • Beethoven to Beyonce: The Science Behind a Hot Beat
    • Music UX: Connecting Technology and Experience for Fans
    • Public Relations, Public Radio, and Music
  • Digital Music and Streaming Conferences:
    • Content, Copyright, and Commerce
    • Controlling Content and Digital Distribution
    • New Ways for Artists to Make Money
    • Redefining “Radio” for the Digital Age
  • Genre-Focused Conferences:
    • Digital DJs Meetup
    • Women Artists in the Dance Community
    • Word Music Meetup
  • How-To and DIY Conferences:
    • Audience Development for Musicians
    • Be Your Own Label: Navigate Success on Your Terms
    • Building Your Music Business Dream Team
    • Self-Releasing for Success
  • Legal Conferences:
    • Pro Bono Legal Services for Musicians
    • Sampling in the Music Business
  • Licensing, Publishing, and Royalties Conferences:
    • How and Why to Let Others Remix/Mashup Your Work
    • Sync in 2015: Newest Trends, Tools, and Techniques
  • Social Media Conferences:
    • Band Website Demolition Derby
    • Just Posting “Buy My Album” Doesn’t Work Anymore
  • Touring and Venue Conferences:
    • Touring Tips and Tricks of the Trade
    • Which Way Do I Go? Marketing Your Tour Correctly

You can browse the full list of the 2015 SXSW conferences here.  Conferences are subject to cancellation, so make sure you stay updated on dates and times for any specific talks you might be interested in attending.

Music Meetups, Artist Central, and the Mentor Program

The people at SXSW know networking is important, too — that’s why they created Music Meetups.  The Meetups for 2015 will be expanded from previous years, with festival staff “grouping together people of similar industries, as well as pairing relevant groups with each other.  Agents will meet with Buyers, Filmmakers with Music Supervisors, Artists can drop in on Managers or Publicist meetups, the list goes on.”

The Music Meetups pair nicely with Artist Central, which combines artist workshops and career development sessions to cover topics like how to:

  • Expand your fan base.
  • Write music for TV, movies, and advertisements.
  • Get the most out of your studio sessions.
  • Refine your public image online.

In addition to attending Artist Central and the Music Meetups, you should also look into participating in the four-day SXSW Music Mentor Program, which is scheduled to run from March 18 through March 21.  Participants will get personal, one-on-one input from industry professionals of their choosing, but you’ll need to register first.  Have questions about who’ll be there or how to sign up?  Shoot an email to musicpanels [at] sxsw [dot] com.