Almost Famous

The Avenues to Success

SXSW 2011

Call it the biggest cluster fuck of the music industry in an extremely condensed place at once, but SXSW 2011 was everything it was cracked up to be and more. My first time, I had absolutely no idea what to expect so I approached Austin with an extremely open and eager mind. Prior to SXSW, I did some work around the buzz worthy bands predicted to shine, but never really developed a concrete game plan. Speaking with several SXSW veterans, planning only paved the way for disappointment, so I jotted down several bands I absolutely could not miss. Luckily, a large amount of my closest friends in the industry were also going, so I was tipped consistently with the plethora of talent coming to Austin. Every day up until my flight Tuesday morning with one of my good friends and business partners was probably one of the most exciting and anticipating moments of my time music. Austin served as a friendly reminder to those in the industry and fans alike why they were in the industry in the first place. Not that I’ve really been in that scene very long, but I get the feeling that initial passionate push that keeps those of us awake at night desperately trying to break into the biz slowly loses its allure as we get deeper into reality. I’m fortunate enough to live in Manhattan, attend a good amount of shows, keep my head in music pretty much all day, and surround myself with music heads of all different goals and walks of life, so Austin served as a collective summary to appeal to the average fan. SXSW took everything still very much alive in the industry and tossed it in one place for both fan and industry head to raise their glasses to. If there was one event that solidified my stance in the industry, SXSW was arguably it. Since my arrival as a permanent resident of NYC last August, my experience has been far from mundane, but SXSW was another breed NYC cannot duplicate in a single week and in one place with everyone aware of its presence. Many aspects of NYC’s music industry is like a hidden gem you have to be “in the know” to really experience, where Austin is like a quick fix and if you look hard enough, a deeply rooted result of what happens when you give music a place to play as hard and loud as it wants.

Something really bothers me to know there were industry heads that could have went to SXSW and chose not to for illegitimate reasons. It should be a requirement at least once. Personally I know I’m still trying to separate ‘music fan’ and ‘music business,’ but who’s to say they can’t work simultaneously? It’s that blend I’m after. Merge the creative and business side and you have one hell of an industry. I still sit here on a musical high and desperately try to sort through the clouded SXSW experience. Blame it on the open bars, BBQ, and exhaustion, but SXSW 2011 will remain to be a turning point in myself personally and professionally.

Austin, first of all, is one massive sigh of relief from leaving the streets of New York City. On an early Tuesday morning, hundreds of industry heads and artists flew out of their music surroundings to roam the streets of Austin, in particular 6th street. Sitting with a morning coffee and croissant in LaGuardia, it was fun to stereotype who was in route to Austin just by what they looked like and what they had with them. It was like a massive deportation of music heads in NYC. Starting my journey with a vodka and orange juice, I landed in beautiful Austin, Texas before noon, thrown into a bunch of unknowns but with many familiar and unfamiliar faces who all shared a similar passion. Cutting through UT’s campus, we made our way into downtown where slowly the streets were filling up with badge holders. Our SXSW homework also helped us identify the venues and bars as we passed by them, probably a similar experience as a newcomer to New York City, but much more condensed in one location within walk-able distance from each other. We stumbled into a few early showcases here and there, just taking it in.

The trenches of 6th street reeked of stale alcohol, BBQ, various drugs, and massive amounts of sweat. SXSW really lucked out with gorgeous weather every day, making the experience that much sweeter as our time continued. As for myself, I refused to stick to a strict schedule, just a very vague idea of what large showcases I knew I was going to go to like PureVolume, Fader Fort, BrooklynVegan, and Don’t Mess with Texas. I also jotted down some artists I felt was necessary to follow and I’m pleased and surprised with how many I was actually able to see. Some note worthy performances included: Odd Future, Machine Gun Kelly, Brother Kite, Mac Miller, The Cool Kids, Chiddy Bang, She Wants Revenge, Oh Land, Jamie Woon, Deer Tick, Walk the Moon, James Blake, LL Cool J (yes, seriously… killed it on stage), DJ Jazzy Jeff, The Vaccines, Andreya Triana, Surfer Blood, Coolrunnings, various death metal bands I never dreamed of getting into, random street acts, wow…. I could go on, and that’s just what I can think of right now… not to mention the open bars, free food giveaways, swag! (yea.. odd future, I’ll be yelling that for awhile), and the other various perks of being a part of the madness. I’m sure there was a point where I was so caught up in every thing every band I saw was great with the adrenaline pumping, alcohol in the system, and the realization this high would continue for the next several days. Although I’m most likely partial deaf, still partially hung over, and ate the oddest and most delicious combinations of food in my life, SXSW will remain to be a permanent milestone in the music industry which is slowly consuming my journey and nurturing a deep passion I’m extremely blessed to harness and maintain. Back to reality, with the many returns to SXSW and other large festivals as fuel to my work efforts. I’ll be posting more as I mentally dig through the week.


March 22, 2011 - Posted by | SXSW | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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