March is the BIG month in the entertainment industry. March is when the recording that happened during the Fall/Winter is revealed. It is also SXSW.
In the 15 years I’ve done FEMMUSIC, I’ve never gone. In many ways I don’t need to. The artists going to and from Austin use it as an excuse to tour elsewhere. Mini tours spring up quickly and instantly. Entire catalogs of artists who disappeared last year around November are suddenly on the move. If you listen close enough, the buzz reaches to both coasts.
What is the importance of SXSW? It is a music, film, entertainment maelstrom in Austin. The majors are sending their top artists to play one or two big shows and mingle. The minors are sending their entire catalogs to play days on end while their managers, publicists, agents are working the crowds. The goal? Touring.
In the internet age where an artist’s song is worth 99 cents, 10 cents, .0003 cents the best place an artist can make money is on the road. Between March and November thousands of artists are on the road playing coffee shops, dive bars, festivals and clubs. They are playing to get exposure, to get gas money, write-ups and sell merch that only sells on the road. People have said for many years that the industry is dying. Go to the merch table at the end of the night at a big show and you will how the tour bus is being paid for.
SXSW is where tour managers, festival organizers, etc…go to watch live music. The big artists don’t need exposure – but their label wants them at Riot Fest or Warped Tour. Did you ever think about why schmucky singer-songwriter #5 is opening for Arcade Fire. Most likely because he played SXSW and made friends.
Good Musicians are nomads. For 9 months (or more) every year they wander the globe. During those 9 months they pay for the remaining 3 months, and hopefully a new recording, and a vacation.