Top Tips for SXSW 2018

Industry experts including MOBO Award-winning Moses Boyd offer tips to artists heading to the iconic and career-changing music event

Three-piece all-female punk band Dream Wife performing live at the British Music Embassy's stage at Latitude 30 during SXSW 2017
Dream Wife performing on the British Music Embassy stage at SXSW 2017

As SXSW descends on Austin, Texas for another year, Brits in the know share their top tips for surviving the globes biggest event for new music discovery.

Whether you are an artist or entourage, manager or media, be equipped with this expert advice from our South By connoisseurs before heading out to the ‘The Lone Star State’; from what to expect, logistics, getting booked, getting heard and who to talk to.

Tips from the top:

Moses Boyd, artist

  • Get some comfy shoes and be prepared for a lot of walking and talking. Nothing can prepare you for the scale of the festival and all the interesting people you'll meet.

Nike Durosaro, artist manager (Shakka)

  • Plan your days well – there are some amazing seminars and workshops and if you do not get up early and have a schedule you'll miss them!
  • Allow enough time to get from one venue to another (some streets and venues are very crowded) and the festival is spread out over a wide area.
  • Try and secure bookings at venues which are in the heart of the action, it's trickier to get people to come and watch you perform if your venue is off the beaten path.

Alex Sharman, Writer Account Manager, PRS for Music

  • RSVP to all the parties, showcases and events in advance – you may only make it to a handful but you can catch some good bands, make key contacts and the free booze/food is always welcome!

Sarah Wall, Senior Events and Outreach Manager, PPL

  • Communicate clearly with venues and production teams - send stage plots and tech specs, anything that might help them. But bring your own print outs too – it’s not unusual for these things to go missing in the madness of SXSW or even for backline equipment to go AWOL. Think: what is your back-up? 
  • Rehearse key tracks stripped back or in alternative formats. Know how you will approach your show if your keyboard dies or the adaptors break, or if your drummer gets stuck at the airport. If you’ve thought about this, it won’t phase you (much) when something (inevitably) happens.

Bhavesh Patel, Programme Manager, PRS Foundation

  • If you’re going there as a rep, really get your hustle on when you’re on the ground at SXSW, don’t waste too much time by staying in one place or trying to stick together in a group. Be receptive to taking last minute meetings which can sometimes lead to meeting some interesting people or new work/opportunities. 
  • As an artist, try and connect with other artists and writers out there and create any good collaboration opportunities you can – be bold and approach whoever you want to work with if you seem them out at a gig or in the conference centre.

P-C Rae, British Music Embassy

GEL INSOLES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Pavement pounding in Austin can take its toll and you don’t want to end up having to wear giant white old ladies’ sneakers because your bruised, battered, swollen feet won’t fit in anything else... 

About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation it works to ensure that creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators worldwide. In 2017, 6.6 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music with £717m collected on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.

PRS for Music is also part of the joint venture company, PPL PRS Ltd, which issues TheMusicLicence, giving businesses in the UK access to over 22.2 million musical works.