Last month, Raw Talent Guitar exhibited in the Gear Alley hall at South By Southwest 2011.
Gear Alley was fun. A great mix of musicians playing live and some inter-booth mingling, even between rival companies. Everyone was in good spirits in Gear Alley.
But Gear Alley was also kinda empty. Not only did it not really fit in with the main hall, but it didn’t really fit in with the vibe at SXSW at all. At least, that’s how the fans’ reaction was perceived by Raw Talent Guitar.
As exhibitors, we expected a decent turnout, naturally. And having had a stellar experience at CES 2001 — one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world — we figured we’d probably kill at SXSW, where it’s all music related. Right? Wrong. There really wasn’t much foot traffic in Gear Alley to brag about.
We were, however, able to gauge our acceptance into the music community. Everyone who stopped by our booth and saw our product only had nice things to say. Everyone that saw the product loved it, in fact. But they just seemed too busy to really care about the “trade show” portion of the live music and BBQ cornucopia that is Austin, home to South By Southwest.
They call Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Pretty bold statement, but even on a normal day in Austin, let alone SXSW, we believe every word. To say there is “too much going on” is an understatement. There was even a drummer in the streets.
We really wanted to go out and enjoy the music, but when you’re exhibiting in a trade show from Noon to 6 p.m. every day, it becomes difficult. If you’ve never been to Austin, parking is ridiculous on a normal day, let alone when thousands of people divulge on a tiny town.
I toured and traveled with Big City Dreams, and I know from personal experience that Austin has better parking for musicians than normal folk! Plus, all of us at Raw Talent Guitar know about the perils of too much traffic in a tiny town. We know because we all went to school at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, which is so similar to Austin, TX, it’s eerie. (But that’s another topic to come in an upcoming blog post.)
They also had the Poster Art show which we barely had time to enjoy. (But it was so awesome. Another post to come soon.)
When the trade show ended each day at 6 p.m., we found out that driving around to find food in Austin during SXSW is as difficult as parking. Waiting in line for food takes at least an hour during SXSW, plus time to actually order and eat, we weren’t finished with dinner until 8 or 9 p.m. each day. We did get some great BBQ though.
All in all, Gear Alley was fun and Austin is great! I’ve always loved that city and Texas was always good to my band on tour.
SXSW was a great learning experience and I can’t wait to go back as a fan, or maybe if Raw Talent Guitar sponsors a venue?