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 in Austin, Texas.
SXSW is 10 day annual event held during the second week of March every year. 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 and meet artists from all around the world, network with people in the industry, and overall have are really interesting spring break experience.
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 eating all the pizza and pasta that my heart desires.
As an ode to my beloved SXSW, I’m extending all of my acquired knowledge and put together my top tips for those of you who are planning on attending.
1. Make sure to RSVP for shows and events 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:
- mtvU Woodie Awards 2015
- O+ CouchTrippin’ 2015: Austin
- Hype Hotel
- Culture Collide and Dr. Martens Party
- 2015 Spotify House
- Live Vibe Presents Party In My Pants
- Pandora Discovery Den Live
- Lyve Presents FLOODfest
- Stubhub and Culture Collide Party
- Music Tech Mashup
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
Most people begin queuing 4-8 hours in advance especially if it’s a free show, so 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
It’s super easy to lose track of time when you’re enjoying a show, so creating a schedule keeps you from accidentally missing an artist you really wanted to see.
In addition, lot of the shows ans events overlap and are spread out all over the city.
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:
- Circus Texicus! Mexican Moonshine Texas Launch
- Ghostcat BBQ Showcase
- Balanced Breakfast: Austin
- Rachael Ray 2015
7. Start your day early and be prepared to stay out late
8. Enter to win free tickets to exclusive shows
Here are a few to check out:
- Win tickets to Austin Music Awards
- Win VIP access to SXSW
- Win Jimmy Kimmel in Austin tickets
- Win a pair of SXSW wristbands, courtesy of IFC Fairground
- Win VIP access to DJ From The Heart
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 are a few:
- Tech Cocktails Startup Celebration at SXSWi 2015
- SXSW + General Assembly: Digital Strategy for Small Business & Non-Profits
- SXSW Music Hackathon Championship
11. Follow SXSW related Twitter accounts to stay up to date and learn about secret events
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
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!
If you’re in the Austin area during spring break, be sure to check out SXSW. It’s unlike any festival because the whole city basically shuts down for it, so you really can’t miss it.
Have you ever been to South by Southwest? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading and stay hungry to learn, create and grow!