The SXSW Music Festival is an iconic music industry event taking place every March in Austin, Texas. Last year, SXSW received 7,049 Showcase Applications, and more than 2,000 Showcasing Artists performed at SXSW 2017. We asked the SXSW Music Festival team to share good advice and also to give artists an idea of what they are looking for in showcase applications that they review. These tips are intended to help the community of musical artists that are applying to SXSW so that they can best represent themselves in their applications.
Showcase Application Tips
“Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be ahead of the game. Artists applications are evaluated in the order received. It’s in your favor to catch us with fresh ears and surprise us with your music. While we do listen to thousands of band applications, we still do some serious, deep dives into your project.
The earlier you apply, the sooner you will hear from us. This allows you more time to plan, raise money, seek potential funding and sponsors, promote, and make it to Austin, Texas in March. You bring our festival to life, so don’t wait too long to apply because we’re more than anxious to start booking. Remember, apply early before the final deadline on October 20, 2017.” – Alicia Zertuche, Senior Music Festival Programming and Visa Specialist
“There are good reasons why we ask for each piece of information in our showcase application. Information about the shows you’re playing helps us determine if you will have an audience at SXSW. We look at all of your social media channels to see how you are engaging your fanbase. Your SXSW goals and recent career developments help us determine how you will add to the festival.
Providing all available links to your music helps us make a better assessment of your sound. Links to your recent and notable press show that people are taking notice of you. And we need to know if you have a team behind you and how to contact them. So, take your time, think about your answers, and double check everything (especially links). We take a holistic approach when evaluating applicants and everything counts.” – Rory Burbeck, Music Festival Programmer
Be Thoughtful About Your Goals and Promo Plan
“Everyone wants world domination, but knowing specifically what you hope to gain from a potential SXSW showcase (i.e. find a manager, agent, tour opportunities, press for your new record, build relations with a particular regional sector of the industry) helps us better understand where you are in your career. It also demonstrates that you have realistic goals and intend to treat the experience as a professional opportunity.
It’s good for you to think about this in advance so if you are selected to play, you will have already started the framework for how to make the most of your experience. If you put that you want to party… well don’t we all? Think bigger than that.” – Stacey Wilhelm, Senior Manager Music Festival
Stay Current on Social Media
“It’s possible your application may not be opened for some time before being reviewed as we make our way through the 7,000+ applications we receive. As a result, it’s vital you keep your social media accounts and pages up-to-date so we can look at career developments since you originally applied. This is especially important for artists that have released new music, announced a tour, or picked up new press since their application.” – Casper Mills, Music Festival Programmer
Apply to Showcase at the 2018 SXSW Music Festival
The initial application fee for Showcasing Artist applications will be $35. The early deadline to apply is Friday, September 8. After this deadline, the application fee will raise to $55. The final application deadline is Friday, October 20.
Hanato Chiruran – Photo by Akash Kataria