Tips for Doing SXSW For Free
2/19/2014 12:41:00 PM
SXSW can be overwhelming. It's ten days long, features hundreds of artists, and is spread out all over central Austin. It doesn't matter if you've done it before or if you're a total newbie, chances are you could still use a little help navigating all the free, exciting events literally at your doorstep.
Here are a few tips to help you go to some great free SXSW events.
First step is to find out what events you're interested in attending. It's easy to get a little over-eager and RSVP to everything. But let's be real, that's impossible. We suggest you prioritize. Fader Fort (one of the biggest free daytime events put on by Fader Magazine and Converse featuring a ton of live music) is pretty much a given, but you probably don't need to exhaust yourself going to the bar you never realized was there to hear an indie-tech-dub-pop-string-quartet sensation because they have free beer for one hour. However, do allow yourself the chance to semi-accidentally discover these types of events, which can sometimes be the most memorable.
Most events require an RSVP of some sort. What does this mean? Well, you're going to have to sign up somewhere online with your name and email address in order to get into an event. Googling "sxsw free events" will turn up a TON of stuff you'll probably want to go to. Some of the bigger events that run for a few days will even require you to pick up one of their wristbands beforehand.
Speaking of which, the RSVPs are already starting to open up for the most coveted of the free events, like the aforementioned Fader Fort. And the reason they're so popular is because when they say free, they mean free. You don't need a badge or cash to get in (however, best practices call for tipping the bartender).
But you really have to be on the ball in order to RSVP for these events. It sometimes only takes around ten minutes for the events to reach RSVP capacity, so it's in your best interest to follow some SXSW-enthusiasts on Twitter and probably subscribe to some email newsletters. No one wants to be the person that finds out that the RSVP went up 11 minutes ago and you missed out.
If you're the type of person that suffers from "FOMO" - or, fear of missing out - we get it. If you're okay with an inbox flooded with RSVP confirmations, you can always pay a little up front and have RSVPster do the leg work for you. Just be forewarned, your inbox will never look the same, so you should set up a separate email address just for SXSW purposes. Also, keep in mind that they don't guarantee entry to anything and especially the big events. You'll still have to RSVP yourself to those.
Do keep a hard copy of backup plans with you if you don't want to find yourself with nowhere to go. There are plenty of people out there who've been around the SXSW block a time or two that carry full-blown lists of events that are color-coded and broken down by time and venue. Those people are also pretty intense. A simple list of alternatives should do.
But most importantly, don't let SXSW party prep take over your life. Keep in mind that if you're already the type of person that is willing to set up separate email addresses and stalk Twitter for the precise moment RSVPs go up, then you're already set to have fun no matter what.