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Archive for the ‘Weeks to Go’ Category

It’s that time of year… check your visa!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

By our count it’s fifty-one days until SXSW Interactive kicks off, and no doubt there are tens of thousands of Southby attendees coming from overseas. Take a little bit of time out of your day to check you’ll still be allowed into America!

There have been a number of changes to the US Visa Waiver program that could make you ineligible to travel, even if your country has an agreement with the US. Check carefully that you are still eligible, and make sure you have a valid ESTA application in place before you travel.

And oif you have to apply for a visa, you;ve (just about) got enough time left if you start the process now.

Operation Every Band’s SXSW Baby! Music Picks – 4 Weeks To Go

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

We are a month away from SXSW. It snuck up this year, right? As expected the past few years, Operation Every Band is teaming with SXSW Baby! to share the cream of the crop of emerging SXSW artists. Operation Every Band’s yearly mission is to review every band showcasing on the SXSW roster. This ends up being about 2,300 artists over the course a few months, a passion project demanding dedication and hopefully a relatively object set of ears. I do the bulk of the reviewing along with Nate Headden on hip hop/R&B, Lucas Holl helping out with EDM and Alison McStravick keeping us all in check.

The payoff comes from discovering countless bands of every genre imaginable in the purest sense – simply listening, feeling, and frankly, judging to give the artists we need to tell the world about an outlet. Primarily, Operation Every Band feeds through Tumblr (~34,000 followers), but check us out on Twitter, Facebook or the ole’ world wide web.

If you’re falling in love already, check out our OEB SXSW 2014 Donator Packages for the real deal, including a series of guides to the best parties, showcases and one-offs going down in Austin.

For SXSW Baby!, I’ll be sharing the top picks on the list, a taste of what is to come down on 6th Street and beyond next month. Today’s pick cover the beginning of the alphabet and features the inventive folk rock of Ages and Ages, London’s melancholy rock band Arthur Beatrice, the expansive Boy and Bear, down-tempo electro-R&B outfit DEMS and anthemic indie pop band Eliza and the Bear.

Read on for the videos and our thoughts….


Start your SXSW notepad to make the most of March

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Every year at SXSW Interactive, people look at my Filofax with a mix of ‘how old school’ and ‘how useful’ when they realise there’s no  need for a wi-fi connection to make it work, and I’m not on the lookout for a plug to charge it up. When I can open up a double page for each day, show a list of films, showcases, sessions, talks, meetings, and events, then the usefulness is clear.

It doesn’t have to be a Filofax. The hipsters will be looking for a SXSW edition of the popular Field Notes jotters, while there’s a certain Class Snobbery in going for a Moleskine. The point is this. Grab a notepad right now, and keep it close by. When you find something you want to do at SXSW- actually strike that. When you find something you might want to do at SXSW, write it down in your SXSW Notepad!

SXSW moves fast. So fast that you’ll have time to do a bit of planning over morning coffee, but trying to look through all the options when you are on the run and being assaulted by the volume of fun at SXSW is not the easiest of tasks. But being able to open a small notepad, look down that day’s entries, find the three personal options happening in the next hour… and you’ll have a  far richer SXSW experience because of it.

Proper planning now prevents…  well, you know the rest!

Getting ready for SXSW means sorting out your visa

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Just over one in ten of the attendees at SXSW last year were from outside the United States (which means that the international delegation last year was larger than the total attendances at some of the early SXSW Interactives…). We here at The Baby! are expecting similar sorts of numbers this year as well, so we want to remind all of you who are going to be passing through the International Arrivals Hall to check two things?

Do you need a Visa?

Except in exceptional circumstances, anyone performing a showcase is going to need to apply for a visa. You should have details in your invitation from the SXSW team, but don’t delay – if you’ve not started the process, get going now. Residents of some countries will always need a visa to enter the US, so check the Customs and Border Patrol website to be sure.

Do you need to fill in an ESTA?

If you are resident in a country which is part of the Visa Waiver program, and you aren’t under one of the exception categories (such as performers, but there are others), then you can skip the Visa process. That doesn’t mean you can walk straight in without filling in a form – you’ll need to register with the ESTA program before you travel.

Head over to the website to register OR to check your existing ESTA is valid.

SXSWBaby’s Tips: The V2V Edition! (69 of ‘em!)

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

With the inaugural event just 10 days away, we thought we’d bring out our best of the best tips for SXSW and modify it a bit specifically for SXSW V2V!

Making the most of your time

Stock up on sleep before the event, and expect to be sleep deprived by the end of it. Any quality time you can get in bed (sleeping) is worth it. We humbly suggest taking quick siesta between the last session of the day and the evening events.

Remember the ABC’s of SXSW (any SXSW event) Always Be Charging.

Memory cards and USB sticks are great for making on the go back-ups of important pictures and videos you take. When you stop to charge, back-up and sync your devices as well.

What happens at SXSW does not stay on SXSW – EVEN IN VEGAS. It’ll be online, tagged, pictured, status updated and indexed within seconds for the world to see.

Mac users, bring the VGA dongle for your Mac so you can easily hook into a projector.

Pack smart, so you can cope with both the heat in the day, and “Dress to Impress” at night.

Consider not drinking any coffee between now and the start of SXSW. Once you start back, you’ll feel the full effects just when you need it the most.

This truly is a marathon and not a sprint so pace yourself, especially on the first day.

Make room on your Hard Drive before you leave so you can back-up without worrying about the space requirements

Carry some screen wipes for your laptop.

If you’re at SXSW on your own, at least have a buddy that knows to check out for you each day. It’s not a paradise out there, be safe, especially at the night-time parties.

Your first time at SXSW?

You cannot “wing” SXSW, don’t believe anyone who says you can. By all means leave a lot of time to serendipity, but have the outline of a plan and use the online scheduler.

Who’s your BFF for SXSW? Sharing the experience with one other person, even over a quiet coffee once a day is a great way to decompress and take stock of your time in Austin

Pack sunglasses.

Pack a spare pair of sunglasses.

SXSW is a very casual conference – shirt and tie is not needed, even if you;re having a big meeting.

Surviving the Conference

Ask on Twitter and Facebook “Who’s going to SXSW” so you can start with a little mental network of people you know, or need to meet

It might be a party, but keep the right side of the law in terms of drink driving, drugs, and everything else. Especially for those flying in from abroad because you may want to get back in to America!

Tag the business card you’ve just been given with a few key words about the meeting or what needs followed up. You’ll have a lot to get through when you get home and the aide memoire will help.

If you must schedule meetings, schedule them over Breakfast – the rest of the day is far too hectic.

Don’t go to parties expecting to be able to network, they are always packed and too loud. Use the quiet time right before a session starts to chat up those seated around you, they obviously have a common interest since they are in the same session.

Follow through. It’s unlikely you’ll seal a deal in the halls of the Convention Centre, but you’ve got a name, a connection and a business card. Use them in April

If you know everything about “Social media and the ROI for banana sellers”, then why are you attending that panel instead of “Squirrel herding for talent spotters?” Step outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

Not sure what you should be doing? Introduce two of your friends (new at SXSW or old established ones, it doesn’t matter) and bask in the karma of helping SXSW be the best mixer on the planet.

Get your badge picked up as soon as possible. Registration is on the fourth floor.

You have a silent mode on your mobile. Use it when you’re in any panel!

Want to get in to the keynotes? Get there early and start queuing. There will be overspill rooms streaming them as well, but as with everything, balance a well prepared keynote to meeting new people, and the smaller sessions scheduled opposite the latest Web 2.0 “hero”

Stuck for what to do? Ask the person next to you what they’ve seen / who they’ve heard / what new app they have. It’s far nicer than Google.

The most important search term on any network? #sxsw Just be aware it’ll be very busy, so consider doing #sxsw AND #somethingelse

It’s natural to hang out “in a group” during SXSW, but you’re there for more than one day. Think about creating a new posse every morning over breakfast or in the queue to the first session

Consider setting up a Twitter list of your close friends who are at SXSW, and use that “saved list” to quickly see what’s going in your circle. Far easier than searching on tags!

Stuck in line for a party? Grab the people around you in the queue, walk away, and find a bar, a corner, or a revolving door. Call it #queueparty2013 or something else funky, twitter it out, and just put on your own party right there and then.

Carry a map. A paper map. It won’t break down, run out of charge, and is always there.

SXSW Parties

Found a good bar or club? Don’t forget it. If you’re having a rough night then heading to your comfort location will always work out.

If you’re in a group on a night out, think of choosing a “rally point” if you get split up. Be here at 11 is a great rule.

Need people to have lunch with? Stop four people in the halls at random and say “Shall we get lunch and introduce ourselves on the way?”

Take care of yourself

Yes SXSW is a long event, but that doesn’t mean tak it easy on Day 1. Hit the ground running, but at a pace you know will let you still be standing (just) as you get on the plane to leave.

Suntan lotion. Lots. Especially if you’re from more northerly latitudes, you’re going to burn fast.

The illness everyone blogs about hen they get back, SX-Sars, isn’t a bug, it’s not taking care of yourself. Listen to what your body is telling you during SXSW.

Pop some fruit in your day bag and snack on that for tiffin’ and afternoon tea.

Don’t skip breakfast, get a good mix of food and be set up for the day.

Get some sleep. If you haven’t got that, you haven’t got anything.

Lots of people, lots of shaking hands, lots of potential bugs. Carry tissues with you for sneezes, and a little hand sanitizer never fails.

Sleep the night before you leave – as much as you can. Pack two nights before and make sure you are rested.

Carry some non-drowsy allergy medicine.

Keep drinking water. Drink some more. Then refill a water bottle and drink more. Otherwise you will dehydrate.

The time you take to walk between venues might be good socialising time, but it’s also great “down time”.

Rob Lagesse nails it… chapsticks rock

A handful of band aids take up very little room in your bag, and will doubtless be used (even if it’s just for blisters)

What to carry with you?

You want to leave with as many different business cards as possible. Think of it as a big game of swap. We don’t mean the ones they hand out on the Strip though.

Spare ear plugs? Use them at night to avoid the room parties, and to get some sleep on the plane home.

There’s an easy way to double the battery life on your phone (or laptop) without relying on finding a plug… buy a second battery.

Do you really need your laptop? It’s heavy, demands you be near a plug, and stops you meeting people apart from those sharing a power strip with you? Leave it at home for at least one day and see what happens.

Rechargeable battery packs for your smartphones and PDA’s are wonderful inventions Lots of them abound but I personally would recommend PowerMonkey (https://www.powertraveller.com/iwantsome/primatepower/000239/)

Bring a second pair of shoes to give your feet a break. Cushioned in-soles are worth considering as well.

One addition to your bed time routine. Put everything you own on charge, no matter if they say they are full. Get in the habit.

Someone wearing converse trainer isn’t a hipster, they just know how much walking is involved.

The longer the week goes on, the more that dark sunglasses are your friend.

Got the chance to charge up your smartphone, laptop or netbook? Take it. Whenever you get the chance to charge something, be charging something.

If you want to be the most popular attendee, bring a power strip of plugs for people to share.

Have a comfortable bag that’s good for you and your back to carry everything for the day. Assume you’ll have it on your back, with laptop, water and snacks for six days without a break.

When in Vegas

Make use of the complimentary shuttles to and from the evening events, but don’t hesitate to just pop in a cab if you don’t feel like waiting to get back to your hotel at the end of the night.

Try to make some time to take in a truly Vegas event, we humbly suggest the Penn & Teller show at the Rio (dark Mondays), we’ve seen it and we want to see it again!

Getting in town early on Sunday before the event? Take in any one of the free/inexpensive show on the Strip in front of the various resorts. The dolphin exhibit at Mirage is a favorite.

Ask your concierge about discount tickets to shows and where to get them.

There is plenty to see and do along the Strip, but keep your wits about you, don’t be a victim.

Don’t ask where the CSI guys are.

Some Final Thoughts

Say yes to everything, get every experience, and just go crazy. This is a roller coaster that you’ll want to stay on as long as possible.

Even if there is something better around the corner, enjoy the moment you are in – that’s the best one.

Have fun!

One Week To Go: Interviews, Intrigue, and Panic Booking

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Next week, many of us will be heading over to Austin for SXSW – the Interactive and Film crowds will start the gatherings to all intents around lunchtime on Thursday 8th March, and while the Music crowds will take a bit longer to drift to the Texan Capital, the SXSW 2012 clock will have started.

Just time for some last-minute thoughts and things to do in our “Weeks to Go” series.

What I’d suggest now is you take a calm ten minutes, and quietly go through your preparations. Plane tickets, hotel reservations, AirBNB arrangements, all of the stuff that needs to be done… is it done? Have you copies of the information you’ll need? Will you print them out because you know your smartphone will go flat if you rely on it in Austin? I know I said cover the basics at six weeks to go, but let’s check them once more (and that includes Visa or ETSA applications that those Southbyers outside of the US will need to apply for before you fly).

Do it now, and you have just enough time to do a panic order on whatever it is you have.

Everyone has a story to tell at SXSW, and many of you are going to be looking at media outlets, bloggers, websites, newspapers, radio, and anyone else you can find to get the message out. Now is the time to reach out to them, with a short, succinct message, and a clear request of what you’d like (come to our show, are you doing interviews, would you download the application please).

Build up the intrigue on the social networks as well if you are doing a launch, tease a track from a new album, release a new film trailer… SXSW is close enough now that the PR legwork you do now will be remembered next week as it all starts. And for us in the media who are booking interviews with interesting people, great musicians, and amazing films, this is week we want to lock down or diary of appointments. So let’s have both sides help each other out!

Two Weeks To Go: Get your crew together

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Not long now till we all descend on Austin, and hopefully you’ve got your head around planning for SXSW through the last few weeks. So what would we suggest this week? Forget about SXSW as a place to meet new people, find exciting ideas, and decide on a new career direction, just think of it as a way to be around your online friends for a week.

How many people have you got in your social networks that you don’t see on a day-to-day basis? Given that you are off to SXSW, there’s every chance that people in your circles are heading there as well. Do you know who they are? It’s time to ask around, and make sure that everyone who is going knows you’re going as well. Blog posts, Twitter messages, Facebook status, go and get them updated!

Very soon you’ll find a little group who are heading to Austin, and it’s likely to have a mix of newcomers, old hands, and people in between. Perfect.

Now, you’re not going to with the group the whole time, but I’d suggest you have a time that everyone can get together and talk about their time in Austin. There’s always a lot going on, and trying to make sense of it on your own can overwhelm you. So help each other in your crew – I’d suggest you all make a point of having breakfast together before you all go your separate ways. It’s a great time to think about the previous day, and plan the next twenty-four hours.

And if it does get a bit too much, a quick text or DM with “I need coffee” should be a bat signal for everyone else!