The Ultimate Guide to SXSW 2015

(Can you spot Childish Gambino?)

Spraang break (thanks James Franco), the most anticipated week long vacation, is quickly approaching. Every year, tons of college students flood to places like South Padre Island, Panama City Beach and Gulf Shores in hopes to not remember the best week of their lives.

Getting plastered in the hot sun surrounded by thousands of strangers doesn’t excite me too much, so since 2012 I’ve attended South By Southwest.

SXSW is 10 day annual event held in Austin, Texas during the second week of March. It features a set of film, interactive, conferences and music festivals; some are free and others require credentials. The price of badges is pretty pricey, so with a college student budget there is no way I could ever afford one.

Don’t fret, because you can still enjoy everything the festival has to offer without spending a dime. Attending SXSW the best way to discover/meet artists from all around the world, network with people in the industry and overall have one of the best spring break experiences.

It saddens me to say that this year I won’t be attending, but my tears have dried quickly since I’ll be in Florence, Italy. As an ode to my beloved SXSW, I’m extending all of my acquired knowledge to those of you who are planning on attending.

1. Make sure to RSVP for shows that require an RSVP. In my experience, they don’t check unless a wristband is required, but it doesn’t hurt to anyways. Here are a few you should check out:

2. There are free shows that are open to all ages and don’t require an RSVP. Here are some to check out:

– If a wristband is required them sure to pick them up in advance to avoid not getting one because they’re typically first come, first serve even if you RSVP’d.

– RSVP from your mobile device so you can easily add them to your Passbook App for easy access and organization if you need to pull up your RSVP.

Lazy hack: Use services such as rsvpster.com that will rsvp you for all SXSW events, but there is a price.

3. Majority of the time for popular shows, people begin queuing 4-8 hours in advance.Get there early if there’s someone you’re dying to see.

4. Create a schedule of the shows that you really want to see, so you don’t accidentally miss an artist you really wanted to see. It’s super easy to lose track of time when you’re enjoying a show. Plus, a lot of the shows overlap. The same goes for events.

5. Take advantage of the free day parties. Here are a few you should check out:

6. Save yourself some money and eat for free. Plus get free booze if you’re 21+, because who doesn’t love free booze?! Here are some events that offer free food:

7. Start your day early and be prepared to stay out late.

8. Enter to win free tickets to exclusive shows, because you never know luck may be on your side. Here are a few to check out:

9. You can work your way to a badge by volunteering at SXSW. There are tons of different positions available. One year I worked registration, so I would check in and give various people their credentials that had their photo and title on them (I gave Jack Black’s assistant Jack’s badge hehe). They are still accepting volunteers!

10. Attend networking events and competitions to broaden your contact list. Here a few:

11. Follow SXSW related Twitter accounts to stay up to date and be in the know as secret events come up. Last year Myspace held secret shows with big name artists such as Justin Timberlake and Kid Cudi. They released information the day of! Here are a few great ones:

12. Take some time to aimlessly roam around the convention center and downtown. There is always something cool to check out and pop-up shops are usually handing out free swag! 
13. Don’t be upset if you miss an artist. Majority of them play multiple showcases, so frequently check their Instagram and Twitter’s to see when and where they perform next.

14. Check out random shows in bars on Sixth Street during the day to discover new awesome bands.

15. Be on the look out for celebrities roaming downtown. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. You never know who you might meet!  

Here are a few sites where you can find more events that will be going on during SXSW: 

If you’re in the Austin area during spring break, be sure to check out the festival. Honestly, the whole city shuts down for it, so you won’t miss it. I hope these tips and tricks help you navigate around and make the most out of your experience.

Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow.

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