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Yes, I know, SXSW is the “Spring Break for the Music Industry,” but why not leave with more than a hangover?
A CAREERIST’S GUIDE TO SXSW
On the Occasion of Her 26th Straight Confab, Ivanas Shares Some of What She’s Learned
While many of you attend SXSW with no greater ambition than to drink to obliteration and see your favorite arena band from high school play a small venue, you might want to consider using the time in Austin to BENEFIT YOUR CAREER. Yes, I know, SXSW is the “Spring Break for the Music Industry,” but why not leave with more than a hangover? Listed below are some of the strategies I’ve employed over my 26 SXSWs to some advantage (I’m still working at the “career cul-de-sac” known as HITS, so caveat emptor):

1. IT’S ABOUT THE MUSIC: Before you go, create a calendar of the bands you most want to see. Among those should be bands so new that your support could make an enormous difference in their success. Yes, it’s a bit of a needle in a haystack approach, but that’s part of the fun. Last year, I fell in love with The Lumineers, and needless to say, that’s worked out well. Other bands on the list should be bands who have done well in the indie/blog world, but have yet to receive much commercial radio show support. Obvious examples for this SXSW includes Hanni El Khatib, The Black Angels, The Chevin, Ash and Feathers, all of whom will be playing the official 101X SXSW showcase on Wednesday at Buffalo Billiards. Also, make sure you see Britt DanielsDivine Fits (whose “Would That Not Be Nice” is featured in the new JCP TV campaign). Use the lack of security and dressing rooms to introduce yourself to new bands. Be enthusiastic without committing to anything. The next tier of bands to target are the “name” bands who would DEFINITELY play your radio show if only they knew how charming you are. Instead of standing in the back of the venue, while the label rep yells in your ear about callout and next singles, plying you with shots and promises of a “meet & greet” the next time the band is through the market, ASK TO MEET THE MANAGER. If the timing isn’t right, give them your business card, request theirs, and send a follow-up email the next morning, requesting either a brief face-to-face or a phone call the next week. Know what the band is worth in your market and start a dialogue. FINALLY, choose an artist to see who is your personal favorite. It doesn’t matter if anybody else goes with you. This is mandatory, because it will remind you how lucky you are to be there. This year, I want to meet Colin Blunstone of The Zombies, whose Odessey and Oracle ranks high in my all-time Top 10. And I will make sure I see power-pop legends Shoes, because I love them.

2. MEET YOUR MENTORS: Unless your have a lifetime contract and a bottomless trust fund, at some point it will be necessary to seek employment elsewhere. Is there an executive attending SXSW whose career you’ve admired? It’s likely that they will be participating on a panel, lured by the promise of a free badge and the ego boost of hearing themselves pontificate to the masses (my panel Inside the Artist’s Studio is Friday at 2:00 PM). Again, have a specific question or starting point for a conversation that extends beyond “how do I get your job?” Ask if you can set up a time to meet, and always, always, always follow up with a thank you email.

3. HAVE A SXSW CRUSH: Choosing a “crush” for the week, even if otherwise attached, means you’re likely to dress better, be wittier, more thoughtful and behave in a manner far more dignified than your true self. Endeavor to meet this person, which means you will want to make a good impression, so listening and communicating is key. Avoid the urge to stalk. That’s creepy.

4. JUST BECAUSE YOUR BOSS IS FACE-DOWN DRUNK: If you’re at SXSW with your boss or anyone in a position to determine your future, DO NOT GET DRUNK, no matter how many shots are put in front of you. Especially if your boss is blotto—this is the best time to coax sensitive information out of them, to use at your advantage later. Because it’s still a boy’s club, a woman should NEVER be out of control in front of their superiors, male or female. The image will always linger, especially when seeking a promotion.

5. PLEASE, MAY I AND THANK YOU: A little gratitude goes a long way.

6. SAY HI: [email protected]
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