Cruise Through Austin During SXSW

We’re excited to announce a new partnership with Bird scooters to help you travel between events during SXSW. Here’s everything you need to know.

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SXSW is unlike most festivals in that it takes over an entire city. Traveling from one event to another means either walking miles across downtown, or shelling out for rideshares during Austin’s most expensive week to use rideshares. But this is 2019 y’all, and the scooters have landed! Whatever your opinion is about dock-less scooters filling the streets of Austin, the fact is these vehicles are a time-saving, environmentally friendly alternative to walking or driving.

Starting today anyone who signs up for a Festival Saviors “#blessed” spreadsheet account will receive $5 ride credit for Bird scooters! Already a #blessed user? We’ll be sending your ride credit via email soon. Learn more about our event spreadsheet and account types here.

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But we’re not done yet!

The map view feature of our spreadsheet displays events on an interactive map, so you can plot your way through Austin March 8-17. Starting soon, you’ll be able to see popular locations to pick up Birds around downtown during SXSW. Using our spreadsheet while rushing to the next show? Open up map view, look for the Bird logo, and start cruising.

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How to prepare for SXSW Music 2019

Music is at the heart of both SXSW and the city that hosts it. Literally thousands of bands will play shows in Austin between March 13-18 (the official dates of SXSW Music). We’ve got some killer keys to stay organized and afloat in this sea of sound.

Your first attempt to prepare might be: “Hmm, I’ll just browse the official showcasing artist list on sxsw.com.” Next thought: “Good God there really are thousands of artists here.” Next you might find yourself on our event list and see the massive catalogue of official shows and unofficial shows. Finally you’re like: “WTF does official and unofficial mean, I’m done with this.”

Remember the following words y’all…

Before SXSW

 

Start with Spotify playlists

First step of music prep is to find a couple good Spotify (or whatever streaming service you use) playlists dedicated to SXSW music. Listen, discover, then create a personal playlist to keep track of the artists you vibe with. Over the years, these have been the absolute best playlists out there:

 

Definitive SXSW 2019 Playlist by @SXSWMF (comprehensive list of ALL official SXSW Music artists)

 SXSW2019 by @atxconcert (SXSW picks by local Austin concert gurus)

 SXSW 2019 – The Short List by @sxsaviors (our short list of artists to see this year)

 

Start building your schedule

Once you’ve got a nice healthy playlist of your favorite artists, head on over to our award-winning event list and start building your schedule. We have all the unofficial parties, and our picks for the best official ones (for the full list of official shows, you may also want to build a schedule on sxsw.com/schedule). Not sure the difference between official and unofficial shows? Read this.

During SXSW

 

Don’t rely 100% on your schedule

Remember how we just told you to build a schedule? Here’s the thing: it’s going to be chaotic, and even the most carefully laid SXSW schedules o’ mice and men go awry. Events will be at capacity, lines will be long, and OMG your favorite artist just announced a surprise show! Use that beautiful schedule as a guide, but always be prepared to switch direction. And sometimes you’ll find great shows just walking around, and popping into things that looks cool.

 

Take time to smell the roses

We know it sounds weird, but sometimes staying put is the best move at SXSW. A lot of these events have amazing lineups from opening act to last call. We’ve discovered amazing artists just hanging out at one party all day. Not saying to use this strategy every day, but pick 1 or 2 parties and just stay through the whole lineup. Plus, the more you hop around the more lines you have to endure: no one should spend this beautiful week waiting in lines all day.

 

It’s all about the up-and-coming

This is 100% certified our most important piece of advice. SXSW has and should always be centered around music DISCOVERY. Seeing and supporting an artist before their big break is what it’s all about y’all. In 5 years what’s the better story: seeing an artist in a big crowd you’ve already seen four times, or seeing an artist in a 100-person crowd whose now at the top of the charts.

 

Start listening to those playlists, build your schedule, and then go explore this beautiful festival. This is the word of the Festival Saviors. Amen.

Tools to Survive SXSW

Must have tools to survive SXSW - make your life easier, and take notes!

TWITTER

Pretty much EVERY unofficial event is posted on Twitter at some point. If you’re trying to join the twitter train and stay in the loop, here are the must-follow accounts:

  • @sxsaviors

  • @SXSWMF

  • @rsvpster

  • @whoaco

  • @atxconcert

  • @ChrisKeegan

  • @festxperts

  • @bangerton

  • @wwwatx

  • @SXSWHIPHOP

  • @thefreenoms

  • @MissKrisSxSW

  • @360sxsw

  • @CameronAtSX

  • @mhsxsw

  • @LiveCapitalTX

  • @YearArtj55

  • @SXSW

Additionally, here are some important hashtags the community uses before and during SXSW:

  • #SXlines - current line statuses for events

  • #SXnoms - spots giving out food during SXSW

  • #SXdrinks - spots giving out drinks during SXSW

  • #SXtips - knowledge into the universe

  • SXwin - SXSW-related contests, lots of giveaways happen before and during the festival

  • SXplay - opportunities for artists to perform during the festival

FESTIVALSAVIORS.COM

I mean, of course ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Festival playlists, tips, and the almighty spreadsheet. There’s just no better party spreadsheet out there. It includes official, unofficial, and exclusive events, updated daily, with details that include hype level, location, date & time, credentials needed, and more!

RSVPSTER.COM

There are 1000+ parties and events happening mid-March in Austin, many of them require an RSVP. See where we’re going? You’re going to spend hours and hours RSVPing to these events.

For only $30 - $40 RSVPster will automatically RSVP you to unofficial events. We can’t recommend this enough! It’s a huge time saver, and stress reliever. Sign up for a #blessed account on our spreadsheet for a $10-off RSVPster coupon.

Stay tuned for an article coming soon on how to use RSVPster to get automatically RSVPd to hundreds of parties.

THE OFFICIAL SXSW APP

Useful for a few things. First, it has EVERY official SXSW event. We only populate our spreadsheet with our suggested official events. Even though we show hundreds of official events, it still only represents a fraction. Our suggestion is to use this only if you have a badge or wristband to keep track of smaller SXSW official events that aren’t listed on other websites or spreadsheets.


SXSW Lines

We know. Lines are annoying. No one likes to wait in lines, but during SXSW, it’s inevitable. There are numerous factors that impact how long you will have to wait, so it’s good to identify these factors first before jumping in line. These include your credential type, whether you’re going to a day or night event, unofficial or official event, and the popularity/exclusivity of the event. Let’s go through these one by one.

CREDENTIALS

Are you a SXSW Badge holder? A SXSW wristband holder? Or just an attendee that RSVP’d to everything on our spreadsheet? Well, whatever you have (or don’t have), you need to understand the tiered priority system. Platinum badge holders get priority access to events. Next are the badge holders that have specific primary access to the event based on whether it’s a SXSW Interactive, Film, or Music event. This means that you’ll need that specific badge for primary access into the event. If you do not have that specific badge, then you are secondary to Platinum badges and primary access badges (depending on the event). Next up are the SXSW wristband holders. Finally, GA gets in last, and that’s only for unofficial SXSW events.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re a Platinum badge holder, or have a badge that gives you primary access, I would get to the event 30 minutes early or by the time that the event opens. If you have secondary access as badge holder, I would get to the event 30 minutes - 1 hour early. If you have a SXSW Wristband, I would get to the event 1 hour - 1.5 hours early. Finally, if you’re GA trying to get into an unofficial showcase, getting in line 2 hours early is normal.

DAY VS NIGHT

Day showcases typically run from the start of the day until 5 PM. Night showcases begin around 7 PM and run until 2 AM or later. With that being said, night showcases are notoriously much harder to get into as these showcases tend to be much more popular. Thus, for day showcases, getting in line 1.5 hours early is average for a popular showcase. For night showcases, waiting in line can range from 1.5 - 4 hours. However, this waiting time can be cut down depending on what type of credentials you have.

OFFICIAL VS UNOFFICIAL

Is there a difference in waiting in line for official vs. unofficial events? Most of the time, the answer is no. And that’s because in recent years many unofficial events have followed the tiered priority system set by SXSW. Also, many unofficial events have been increasingly scrutinized by SX, encouraging these events to collaborate with SXSW as official showcases. However, there are still numerous unofficial events that don’t care whether you have a badge or not, but rather if you’re invited. These are typically the best events at SXSW. Think Fader Fort, Vevo House, and Apple Music. These showcases are always star-studded, so get in line as early as you can. Don’t second guess yourself if you think you’re too early - chances are you’re probably not.

Just to tease you a bit, here are artists that have played at Fader Fort & Apple Music within the last few years:

  • Fader Fort - Drake (and all of OVO), 2 Chainz, Rae Sremmurd, 21 Savage

  • Apple Music - Lana Del Rey, Vince Staples, Billie Eilish, The Chainsmokers

Finally, understanding the popularity and exclusivity of the event or showcase will give you an idea on when you should head over to stand in line. Popular showcases like Rachel Ray’s Feedback will have people lining up as early as 6 AM (the event usually starts at 10 AM), while other showcases that aren’t as exclusive or popular may not even warrant a line. Check the Hype Level of our spreadsheet for an idea of how popular an event will be.

The majority of showcases at night will have great lineups, so we suggest that you choose one showcase and stick to it since it’ll be pretty difficult to get into a second showcase later that same night (unless you’re a primary access badge holder). Additionally, we also suggest that y’all be ON TOP of Twitter. Twitter is a great news source for anything SXSW. If you’re following the right people - see here - you’ll be able to sift through twitter feeds to hear about rumors, secret shows, and (you guessed it), lines! Just use the #sxlines hashtag, and you’ll see posts about lines related to SXSW shows. Make sure to contribute to the community as well!


RSVP 101: Do I really need to RSVP for SXSW events?

Preparing for SXSW can be draining when hundreds of event RSVPs are before you. We'll give our humble opinion on whether or not it's really worth it to RSVP.

RSVPS, RSVPS EVERYWHERE!! You won't go a day preparing for SXSW without seeing this holy word. So what's the deal do we really need to RSVP to all these events?

The bottom line: Most unofficial events say you need an RSVP for entry, but many won’t even enforce it at the door.

Ok maybe that confused things even more. So how do you know which unofficial events will enforce their RSVP?? The simple answer: there's no sure-fire way of knowing if a particular event is going to enforce their list. Skip the RSVP, but do so at your own risk. If Daft Punk plays a surprise show that you didn't RSVP for, you're gonna miss out. The only way to guarantee smooth entry to unofficial events is to just take time to RSVP.

Did we confuse things even more?? Let’s make everything easier, enter RSVPster.

RSVPster is a service that will RSVP you to hundreds of unofficial events. You give them some info, they take the time to get you on the lists. Once you sign up the events they RSVP you to will start showing up in your inbox. Trust us. RSVPster saves you days of scouring the internet, and typing your RSVP information for every event you find - worth every penny.

Our last tip about RSVPs: create a new email account to use when RSVPing for these events. You'll be receiving hundreds of confirmation emails, and many event organizers will add your email to their mail list. Do NOT use a personal or work email for RSVPs.

Happy RSVPing, and say goodbye to your work productivity!


SXSW Credentials: Badge vs. Wristband vs. Guestpass

Wondering if a badge or wristband is worth it? We'll go over what each one gets you.

We get A LOT of questions about the 3 types of SXSW credentials: badges, wristbands, and guest passes. First let's get one thing straight: SXSW credentials are different levels of access for official events only. They really don't come into play for unofficial events (except for one exception which I'll note at the end).

GUEST PASSES

Guest passes are FREE, and get you access to a very small, select number of SXSW official events. It's like SXSW giving you a free trial. Past guest pass events have included SXSW Create, SXSW Marketplace, and The Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake (usually an awesome lineup, saw The Strokes here in 2011!). SXSW usually releases guest passes about 3-4 weeks before the festival starts, so stay tuned for that announcement. You can learn more about SXSW guest passes at guestpass.sxsw.com.

MUSIC WRISTBANDS

I always see the most confusion around this credential. These get you access to all official SXSW Music night shows. Wristbands do NOT give you access to any interactive or film events. They also do NOT give you access to official SXSW Music day events. The distinction between day and night events is where the most confusion is so listen up! You can look at SXSW Music as 2 parts:

  • Day events

    • ~8am - 6pm

    • panels, workshops, lounges, and keynote speakers

    • badges only

  • Night shows

    • ~8pm - 2am

    • music shows at venues all around Austin

    • badges and wristbands

It's key to note that only Austin residents can purchase music wristbands. However, each Austin resident can request 1 extra music wristband for a non-Austin resident friend. This year music wristbands go on sale January 22 and are $169. You can learn more about them at wristbands.sxsw.com/music.

BADGES

Finally we have the almighty SXSW badge. Badges are the highest form of credential. They get you access to official SXSW day and night events. There are 5 different types of SXSW badges, which are described pretty well at sxsw.com/attend. Some badges only get you access to a specific SXSW subfestival (i.e. music or interactive), and some give you access to multiple sub festivals (i.e. the Gold Badge gets you access to both interactive and film). Each event on the SXSW website will indicate which badge you need to attend that event.

As far as the “are badges or wristbands worth it” debate goes, here’s my opinion. If your only SXSW goal is to hear some dope music AND you'll be in Austin March 13 - 16, wristbands are 100% worth it. Sure you can get by going to unofficial shows only, but your options are severely limited at night.

If you’re an industry professional looking to network and learn more about your field you may want to look into a badge. They really are expensive but damn, if you can afford it your options are unlimited at SXSW. If you can't afford a badge this year don't sweat it! You'll have more than enough non-badge events to attend.

One last thing to note: SXSW credentials DO NOT guarantee entry to unofficial events. However, some unofficial events will have separate, shorter lines for badge and wristband holders - so keep an eye out!


SXSW Official vs. Unofficial: What's the Difference?

Differences between the SXSW official and unofficial festivals, including how to tell which events belong to which festivals.

For 10 days in mid-March Austin, TX becomes the center of the world. The city hosts a constant scene of parties, lounges, film screenings, music shows, technology showcases, and free tacos. It all starts with the official SXSW conference, but you'll also hear people talk about unofficial and free events. So what's the difference between official and unofficial, and how can you tell if an event is free?

OFFICIAL

The official SXSW conference is a 10 day event composed of several sub-festivals, owned and operated by SXSW, LLC. The sub-festivals are:

  • Interactive (March 8 - 12)

  • Film (March 8 - 16)

  • Music (March 11 - 17)

  • Comedy (Mach 8 - 16)

  • Gaming (March 15 - 17)

Each sub-festival has panels, keynotes, lounges, and other events unique to each festival. For example, Music has music showcases, Film has film screenings, and Interactive has industry showcases like technology exhibitions, and startup pitch competitions. You can learn more about each sub-festival here: sxsw.com/festivals

To attend official SXSW events you need SXSW credentials. There are 3 types of credentials, which we'll go over in our next blog post.

UNOFFICIAL (FREE)

For over 30 years the official SXSW conference has brought tens-of-thousands of people to Austin every March: artists, film-makers, entrepreneurs, industry professionals, music enthusiasts, event organizers, etc. At some point people started thinking, "Why not throw a cool event outside of the SXSW conference just for fun?" As the years went by, more and more events started being organized outside of the official sub-festivals. Today, all these "other" events make up a massive collection of parties known as the unofficial (sometimes called free) festival.

These events are totally free with no SXSW credentials required. They range from free tacos at a food truck, to huge music showcases at Austin\u2019s biggest venues. It's key to note (especially so we don't get sued) that unofficial events are NOT associated with the official SXSW conference.

So how can you tell if an event is unofficial or not? Easy! Search for the event at sxsw.com/schedule or on the SXSW mobile app. If you can't find the event listed there, chances are the event is unofficial.

For the full list of unofficial events, and our short list of official event suggestions, check out our ultimate spreadsheet: festivalsaviors.com/events