The TechPart 1 of our guide is all about taking advantage of the tech you need before the big week in March.
1.) Follow these Twitter handlesThese guys and gals have a pulse on everything that matters at SXSW. Big artist announcements, party announcements, you name it.
2.) Create a list from those Twitter handlesThis will make it easier to digest all that SXSW goodness in a single Twitter feed. We compiled our own list here.
3.) HashtagsThis can act as a catch-all for any other SXSW related updates coming through the Twitter firehose. We recommend saving these searches so it's easy to go back to.
- #SXDrinks - tips on where the free drinks are at
- #SXLines - updates on lines
- #RBxBR - Ray Ban party hashtag
4.) Phone batteries: Get 'em!A first of many tips from our friend @CameronAtSX of RSVPster fame: "Order a portable battery pack off of Amazon for your phone. They cost like $30 and are well worth it. The higher the mAh, the better. This one, for example, holds 4 1/2 iPhone 6+ or Galaxy S5 charges."
5.) Keep tabs on your SnapchatThis is the first SXSW where Snapchat has hit crazy critical mass. I’m expecting some nifty marketing campaigns & ticket giveaways via the ephemeral platform. See how @SouthByFREENoms is already starting to leverage it.
6.) We’ve been hearing some noise from SkoopAppIt’s like a social network app just for SXSW. Get it here. YikYak seems to be the popular one now though tech peeps use Secret more frequently. At the very least, it’s interesting to read interactive festival goers talk shit about how crappy they think SXSW has become.
8.) HippoHonk if you're looking to discover new musicGreat site for reviews on bands being at SXSW.
9.) Use Foursquare/Swarm to track abnormal foot trafficThis is how I caught the secret Spoon show at ACL live a couple years back. Foursquare recently split their app into 2 so you might want to refresh yourself a bit. To my knowledge Swarm is going to be the one for seeing the foot traffic. You'll get notifications on where more check-ins are occurring downtown. It's also a good way to see which events are super crowded.
10.) Get the apps that startups tell you to download for entryYea it's a ploy for these startups to drive user growth. From experience, a lot of these events will check to see if you've downloaded the app. It can be a bit annoying since no one seems to download beforehand leading to a clusterfuck of a line. Be proactive and download it to your phone. They might open a separate line for people who already have the app.
11.) Setup your Ridesharing AppCheck out Lyft and Uber to see if they're running any promotions this year for free rides. Transportation is a mess so have some semblance of a plan if you’re staying outside of downtown. Other corporate brands usually do some free ride sharing stuff too so be on the lookout. This also includes sponsored pedicabs. Braintree did it last year and Samsung the year before. They're usually free.
The PartiesPart 2 is a deep dive into the big parties that always make a showing every SXSW.
12.) Fader FortThis sums it up perfectly. The mecca of parties, Fader Fort never disappoints on the music & drinks front. They always have a couple special guests up their sleeve (See Usher's only SXSW performance here). If you're one of the lucky ones to receive a RSVP at Fader Fort, understand that it'll more than likely be an all-day endeavor. The place gets insanely packed and lines are ridiculous if you don't show up early. This is especially the case if you don't have an official badge or wristband. If you want the lowdown on Fader, check out MissKris's post here. UPDATE: Looks like its invite-only this year, stay tuned for more details
13.) Hype HotelFree alcohol but more importantly, free Taco Bell. Don't get too carried away though. They usually do a day & night party during the music portion of SXSW. If you're badgeless, getting into the day stuff is possible. Expect to wait for an eternity at night. The venue for Hype Hotel is usually indoors so you aren't dealing with the massive crowds at Fader Fort. This means you can get up close and personal with the artists.
14.) Spotify HouseThis one has grown up a lot since Spotify initially came to Austin. The lineups are always solid and drinks keep flowing. It's a series of day parties so show up early to beat the crowds. Also, going back to tip #10, download the Spotify app for entry. site as they unveil the lineup throughout the next couple weeks. The Boiler Room always has an eclectic mix of musical acts with a couple that only play this show during SXSW. Don't expect designer sunglasses being handed out and they never had an open bar from what I remember.
16.) House of VansVans takes over The Mohawk on Red River for a week of day and night parties. The venue isn't insanely big so be weary of the party start times. Day parties are general admission and night parties give badge/wristband holders priority access. Looking at the URL structure for past announcements, this year's list of events should live on http://sites.vans.com/eventsites/sxsw-2015/
17.) SPIN's Annual Day PartyNever been able to make this one but always hear amazing things about it. Usually takes place at Stubbs which is a great outdoor venue to catch shows. Expect a killer lineup, open bar, and free food. You'll want to keep tabs on the #SPINStubbs hashtag for announcements. Tickets go quick and expect to pick them up at the box office.
Culture Collide is going HAM on Rainey Street this year. They are co-hosting a number of showcases throughout the week. One thing to note is that the bars on Rainey aren't as big as your typical music venue. The showcases can get pretty crowded if the lineup is solid so plan accordingly.
19.) APWAustin Party Weekend is mandatory for the electronic & hip-hop crowd. Labels such as Fool's Gold & Mad Decent usually do their showcases here.
20.) Auditorium ShoresIf you're looking for a change-up to the typical showcase experience, check out the shows on Auditorium Shores. They're free to public and attract big names to perform.
21.) The IllmoreThe Illmore always has awesome hip-hop shows (Lil’ Wayne, Kendrick, Skrillex etc.). Sign up here: http://illmore.zone/
22.) Quantum CollectiveLocated on the Wholefoods Rooftop, this event is free to the public and usually has a variety of artists performing.
23.) Waterloo RecordsFrom @bangerton of justaho.com: "Free, no RSVP, no badge, no wristband, nothing. Usually no line to get in as well. Previous years: Tegan & Sara, The Zombies, Alt-J, Gary Numan, etc." They just released their 2015 lineup which you can find here.
The TipsIn part 3, we wanted to share some rapid fire tips from us and the SXSW experts. These range from preparation & specific party recs. Expert tips are highlighted in blue.
24.) If you're lazy about RSVPing, get RSVPster.Nuff said.
25.) Stay far away from Dirty 6th street on music weekendIt's way too crowded with a mess of people. Some bars on 6th even close to avoid the trouble.
26.) Want a free badge?Volunteer! You can schedule hours anytime throughout the 10 days and you'll get perks in return. Learn more here.
Words of wisdom from Ian Carrico of @sxswfreedrinks
27.) Don't leave someplace just because there is a rumor of an event across town.If you are someplace that you are having a good time, stay there— no need to wait in more lines when you are already enjoying yourself as it is.
28.) The drinks might be free, but your bartenders are still working hard all week.
Make sure you bring some ones with you to tip your bartender— and always, always, always be kind to them
29.) If you identify as a wino, follow @garyvaynerchuk during Interactive.
He usually throws a secret wine party that’s announced last second. You’ll probably rub shoulders with a lot of super successful tech people there.