People ask me all the time which events to check out during the South By Southwest Music Festival (SXSW). While I am admittedly new to the process, I have found a few ways to get a lot free stuff out of SXSW without a wristband or badge.
My first recommendation is to have a game plan. There is simply too much going on at SXSW to go in all willy-nilly.
Start by finding artists you like that are playing SX. You can do this by searching SX’s official artist roster and looking up some of your favorite bands, but I recommend finding out about new acts with Spotify’s SXSW Fresh Playlist. If you don’t have Spotify, sign up. It’s free.
Save (or remember) the names of artists whose songs you like.
Now, it’s time to find out where and when your new favorite bands are playing. I recommend SX’s official calendar if you have a wristband, but if you don’t, FEAR NOT! Most bands at SX play A TON OF TIMES. Odds are, most of them are playing shows that only require that you RSVP on a website and wait in line.
If you don’t have a wristband, I recommend visiting Do512’s wonderful website. Search the name of your favorite bands and voila!: You’ll have a list of that band’s performances. Look for the ones that have a “Free” headline in the top left and “RSVP” in the top right of the event like this:
Then, all you have to do is RSVP to the event which requires your name and email (I recommend using a dummy email that you can easily delete or ignore, unless you want to be bombarded with a thousand emails after the festival is over).
Finally, let’s talk about lines: there’s a lot of them! So show up early! Waiting to see a new band that you may or may not love is all part of the fun of SXSW. Make sure you have lots of water, something to read, a fully charged phone and a good friend (most RSVPs allow you to add a +1 for free) and you’re good to go.
I can tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than taking a chance on a new band, in a dicey venue, and being totally blown away. Those were some of my favorite shows.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. This is just one way to South By, so let me know if you have any questions or want a list of some of the things I’m doing. Post a comment below.
Have a safe and happy South By Southwest!