Plan Now: SXSW is less than six months away

This morning I was walking to work when I noticed the leaves were starting to change. The summer temperatures seem to be lasting a little longer than usual, but soon fall will be in full swing and before we know it snow will be in the forecast. The sight of the trees lead me to thinking about the future, and then it hit me:

SXSW is less than six months away.

In fact, in exactly six months there will be tens of thousands who are just getting home from their time in Austin. They will be exhausted, possibly sunburned, and many will swear they are never going to drink again, but all will have a head filled with memories of connections made and one-of-a-kind moments experienced. They will have new friends, new musical addictions, and a craving for the dry heat of Texas that they will cherish so much they won’t even mind the credit card bills they racked up on Sixth Street because every cent will have been worth it.

We have been going to SXSW for years now, and each one is honestly better than the last. There is an energy to the city of Austin during those two weeks that is palpable in every nook and cranny of the world’s largest music gathering. More importantly, there are passionate industry professionals from all walks of life looking to change the business for the better through collaboration and new experiences. You can meet the person who changes your professional life forever at SXSW just as easily as you could meet your next best friend. Some people even meet their future spouse at SXSW!

We do not get paid to say SXSW is a place where the most passionate music fans from all over the world come to celebrate the art form and consider where it may go in the future, but that is the honest truth. There is plenty to be said about the rampant corporate branding and whether or not allowing companies like Doritos to promote themselves by having Billboard chart-topping talent perform on a multi-story vending machine stage just several hundred feet from a complete unknown talent hoping to get noticed is “cool” or “on brand,” but at the end of the day none of that really matters. What matters are the experiences to be had, and they are truly unlike anything you will find in any other festival or city on this Earth.

This is all a very long-winded way of saying you should be planning to attend SXSW 2017 and that the time to plan is right now. You should actually have plans underway already, but if not this post will hopefully get you to get into motion. SXSW is costly and hectic. You can wing it if you so desire, but in order to make the most of your time in Austin you need to be meticulous about your preparation. Figure out how you’re getting in, book a hotel or AirBNB, and start looking into flights or estimated the cost of gas. It would also be a good idea to make sure your knowledge of hydration is up to snuff, and that you’re working out regularly as there will be a lot of walking under an often hot sun while you’re in Texas. After you’ve got all that going, make a list of what you’ll need to bring and what you hope to accomplish. As the March nears, beginning making plans with others planning to go and lay the groundwork for meetings you goals ahead of your arrival in Austin.

SXSW will change your life, but the extent of that change depends on the work you put into your time in Austin. Start now.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.