South by Southwest (SXSW) is utter chaos. What started was a small music event in 1987 grew to become an event that draws thousands of people to Austin, TX for “business”. SXSW draws industry people from music, film, and of course the tech industry. It’s maddening, it’s tiring, it’s fun, and it has become one of those flagship events that can’t be missed by most startups, agencies, big brands, and industry leaders alike.
To be at SXSW, you’ll have to prepare for full throttle networking. Often times you will have to wait in a line to attend certain panels or shows that you want to attend but the best thing about is that there will be a million things going on, lots of free events, so whether you’re attending with or without a badge, there’s something there for you to do.
Pro tip: Look for things that say ‘unofficial SXSW.’
This is the holy grail of SXSW signup sites. Warning, it may be best to use a spam email for this. Be prepare to get spammed with bazillions of events when you use this. This thing will sign you up for A LOT of stuff automatically. It also doesn’t distinguish between events with badges or ones without badges so read some of those carefully. Again, look for things that say unofficial.
This Facebook/email list is also great for finding out about things. It’s specifically for unofficial stuff so it’s quite nice already having most of those events filtered out. Check it out for more info.
Although it is an official event, SXSW does offer a few free events. For example, things like the gaming expo is free and open to the public. It’s worth swinging by if you’re into gaming. SXSW will also be hosting 3 nights of free music at Butler Park. Sign up to get on the list.
Lots of events use Eventbrite to register people for their events. Search on there. Just make sure to skim for the unofficial events and ones that are open to the public.
This is another great site to find SXSW events.
This site is specifically for music. Find out how to see up and coming bands of your interests with this.
This is a fantastic Twitter handle for finding out about free stuff at SXSW. Make sure to follow it.
Lastly, check out Gary’s Guide for tons of SXSW stuff.
If you’re attending mostly for music, a lot of times the venues will collect a small admission fee at the front. That’s also an option to go see the band of your choice instead of spending hundreds on a badge. This should keep your plate full for SXSW events. Good luck and start planning your SXSW chaos today!
Check out a few other SXSW posts: