SXSW — it’s here, and it’s insane as always. The rain actually made it all more bearable, since it kept a lot of people indoors instead of filling up the streets with lines outside every venue. The weather could seriously put a damper on live shows if the rain returns, so make sure you have as many contingencies in place as possible. Anybody that can flash-press branded rain ponchos has a chance at winning big.
This year is your usual mix of parties, wacky promotions, costumed characters, and tchotchke / food giveaways, edging towards the mainstream as even the Today Show tries to bribe the tech set with food trucks. But what has worked best so far is the very thing that worked for a consulting client of mine — quit yelling, start whispering. Break through the static by creating an experience that everyone in attendance will remember.
Instead of dressing up in a bear outfit and passing out stickers everywhere, my clients threw a private brunch with 100 influencers in the fashion space, and put together a panel of today’s emerging names in the fashion world (Beachmint, Poshmark, Refinery 29, etc.) for an intelligent discussion of the future of fashion & technology.
I know we’re all trained to have your band play at as many parties as possible to as many people as possible. But try to make sure that at least one of these events is memorable, where the band can play in an intimate setting to a select group of people. Not every label / manager has the luxury of doing such a thing, especially when all you can do is try to make sure the sound is okay and hope the fire marshall doesn’t shut you down.
Most attendees are used to waiting in line for an hour, sweating like a pig, soaking our socks in beer, and trying to have a business conversation by yelling over the band. That may be fine for the Fader Fort, but take one extra step this year and work with the club to make sure your guests are comfortable and happy, both inside and outside the venue.
If you have a moment, come outside and talk to your clients in line. Apologize for the long waits, explain no I can’t sneak you in, spend a moment catching up with them and see how everything is going. Even better, have the band come outside two hours before they play to pass out ponchos and umbrellas if it’s wet, pass out bottled waters if it’s hot. Yeah, it’s all rock & roll and we can all pretend we’re sweating balls at CBGB like we used to, but come on — we’re adults, and we’re here on business, even if it is one big party.
Seriously — with every act fighting for attention over the next few days, make sure that your event, that your band’s show, is a little bit better / more memorable than the others, so that everyone walks away with warm fuzzies after they leave the room.