Cutting Through The SXSW Clutter: Is It Even Possible?
Thanks to flight delays and hangovers, SXSW postmortems are still trickling in around the blogosphere; so far, the one that best dug into our vague feeling of seeing too much, yet not seeing enough during our time in Austin comes from Coolfer:
Bands at SXSW scream “Look at me! Look at me!” at attendees spending days in Austin being completely saturated by marketing stimuli (beers, clothing companies, record labels, etc). How can a band get attention?
It’s difficult to be remembered given the quantity of bands, the social aspect of the events and the availability of free alcohol. And, most surprisingly, the bands tended to go about their business without properly addressing the glut. Few bands sold merchandise. Many bands I saw rarely said their name during the set. They acted as if simply being there was good enough. Well, it wasn’t. If you played at SXSW, chances are you won’t be remembered.
It’s a good point, albeit one that’s probably breaking many showcased artists’ hearts. But we were pretty surprised, during our weaving in and out, how few bands namechecked themselves–particularly during the day parties, which often ran off-schedule, resulting in confusion from people who would wander in. Sure, the people on the leading edges of knowing about music–the bloggers, the journalists–may have had each band’s appearance and songs filed away in their memory banks, but the casual fans (or the people who’d confused Austin’s open bars with Margaritaville) were, in many cases, out of luck in this department. Sure, part of the danger here is that SXSW has just gotten so big–the number of day shows, spinoff festivals, and afterparties out there has to equal, if not surpass, the total of official showcases–but you’d think that, given the fact that there are so many new audience members out there to woo, bands would want to remind people of, at the very least, their names.
And really, is selling merch too much to ask? Or is it too much of a hassle, given the steeplechase that some bands have to endure during their time in Austin? If so, it’s a shame, because there were a few bands we saw whose records we’d have picked up on the spot, had they been available.