This spring, IPR instructors Eric Trelstad and Eric Bull channeled Music and Entertainment Business students through the streets of Austin into the indisputable chaos called South by Southwest. Often considered the largest event of its type, SXSW gives media industry peers an opportunity to network in some pretty amazing ways. Students shared their invaluable experiences collecting business cards and free stuff, as they learned useful networking skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Friday, April 29th – A panel of IPR students, who attended SXSW, joined Adam Levy for DIY360. Panel students showed a video presentation offering clarity into what the experience was like. Walking for hours at a time, shaking countless hands, collecting business cards, attending discussion panels featuring media industry experts, meeting new bands, choosing from hundreds of shows to attend, and staying up late with hopes of meeting celebrities, the students who attended SXSW had a very busy time.
Students spoke highly of the panels they had attended; they heard industry professionals give insight on discussions ranging from fan interaction to today’s popular music scene. One student attended a discussion where Q and A was offered one on one at separate tables, offering an opportunity to get to know the panel members in a more personal way.
Many students took advantage of blogs like Pitchfork before going to SXSW. With hundreds of options, students needed a way to narrow their attendance choices and plan ahead. Some students were very grateful they had instructors with them who had been to SXSW before – it was definitely a time saver.
As they explored the event, both students and instructors noticed a shift in thinking about what SXSW can do for artists. According to the panel, many artists used to travel to Austin because of the significant number of important music industry people who attend SXSW; there is a really good chance you’ll meet a record executive or two at the event, and, in the past, this was a good way to get noticed. This year, however, bands seemed much more interested in expanding their fan base. The business is continuing to change, and most ambitious, educated artists can do almost everything a record label could do for them. The trend seems to be that watering the fan base is the most effective way to see it grow – and, artists and business people come from all over to see what’s going on at SXSW. It’s a great way for artists to send their music home with new audiences.
Everyone who attended SXSW learned a lot. Most would return in a heartbeat, and, in the future, some student panelists are even considering relocation to Austin. It may be a generalization, but many would agree… if you plan to work in the media industry, you owe it to yourself to make attending SXSW a priority.