What you should do while everyone else is at SXSW

SXSW, SXSW 2019, SXSW Music, Music Business, Music Conferences, Music Festival

The biggest music festival and conference in the world, SXSW, is happening right now in Texas, but you don’t have to be there to get ahead this week.

SXSW Music starts today, and if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you are not in attendance. Haulix has traveled to Austin for this amazing week of shows and networking before, but this year we are staying home and working hard to develop the next era of our company. It was a tough decision, as it is every year, but we saw this week of chaos in Texas as an opportunity for us to get ahead while the vast majority of the industry was distracted with the madness that is Sixth Street.

The same is true for you. Every year we hear from professionals and those looking for work about how they wish they could be attending SXSW. The event has done such a good job positioning itself as a cornerstone in the industry that anyone who isn’t attending can fall prey to thinking they are missing out on something that could be life-changing. Whether or not that is indeed the case is another point altogether, but you have to appreciate the power of good marketing.

If you did not go to SXSW, then you should consider this week a gift from the Gods of the music business. This industry never shuts down, but for the next few days things will be slower than usual, and that provides you with a rare opportunity to focus on self-improvement rather than the minute-to-minute developments of the music business as a whole. Once the event ends, promotion for summer kicks into high gear, and after that we will all be focused on the fall until things slow down once more in December.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions of things you should do while everyone else is away at SXSW:

1. Your brand needs work. No, seriously, It needs work.

Whether you’re searching for a job or trying to get the attention of an A&R rep, you currently have a set of tools and resources you use to distribute your information. No matter how good your brand is, it can always be better. Review your promotional materials, cut unnecessary fluff, update your designs, and make sure every word represents you the way you want to appear to others.

2. While everyone is scrambling to make it to the next big name showcase or catch a specific panel, you are free to discover and learn at your own speed.

Austin has a dizzying amount of options at any hour of the day, leaving most to scramble from event to event, often while consuming alcohol and binging on food that is far from healthy. That is not the case for you. Time is on your side this week, and without the rigid scheduling of SXSW to hold you back there is no limit to what you can see, do, or otherwise accomplish. Dig into research for your next big interview, listen to that growing pile of promo invitations in your inbox, or catch a documentary you’ve been putting off for the last few weeks. Stay busy, but know you’re not under the same pressure to perform that you feel every other week.

3. All those projects and tasks you have been pushing off to the side? Now is the time. Clear your to-do list.

Trying to find a full time career or record deal is hard enough without also trying to handle all the other responsibilities that come with being a music industry professional, let alone being a fully-functional adult as well. Between things you need to do to survive, the things you need to do to get ahead, and the things you want to do before your far too limited amount of time on this planet is up, life can often be overwhelming. With a large portion of the industry at SXSW this week you should feel free to take a little time for yourself as well. Catch up on the stuff that really matters. Not just for work, but for your own happiness and well being. There will be another week of industry madness in just 9 sleeps.

4. There is ample entertainment to keep you going, and you don’t have to wait in any line to enjoy it.

The beauty of SXSW in 2019 is that the vast majority of important events that take place in Austin will be broadcast online or uploaded within hours of completion. There will be tweets, Facebook Live feeds, Instagram stories, and a wide array of similar social media content available in real time. You have the best seat in Texas, and you are not even there. Take in the panels, pausing as needed for notes, and don’t be afraid to kick back while streaming a set or two after your work is finished. Just because you’re trying to get ahead does not mean you cannot have a little fun after the work is done.

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.