SXSW 2011 took place this past March and Raw Talent Guitar was there, exhibiting at Gear Alley, a new addition to the SXSW Interactive show.
The interactive trade show at SXSW has expanded each year since 1994 and was formerly known as SXSW Multimedia at the 24-year-old festival.
Last year (2010), Gear Alley was literally a strip – er, an “alley” – in the main hall of the trade show, which is more dedicated to online and social media companies.
Think Monster, Retail Me Not and Google. They were all there.
SXSW was a good time, but we were so busy we didn’t get to see much of the live performances around town.
When we did go out, we only saw a few bands at SXSW Official venues. Most were at a few “unofficial” venues we visited.
It would have been nice to see B.o.B., which was an exclusive invite-only event, or Cee Lo Green, who ended up canceling, and admittance into the major label nighttime showcases at SXSW was impossible anyway.
Even though we had badges, the nighttime showcases were hard to get into. It was yet one more aspect of SXSW that left us asking ourselves if it was all worth it as we watched a drummer play in the streets with the other people with and without badges left wandering around due to packed shows.
And considering the small amount of foot traffic in Gear Alley, it wasn’t worth the time spent inside rather than at all the live performances at the many venues involved with SXSW.
Don’t get me wrong. Gear Alley was cool. There were even bands playing and DJs spinning in the trade show.
We were right next to people from Casio Keyboards and we met guys from Fender and Santa Cruz guitars. That’s good networking right there, and to be fair, when people did stop by our booth, they loved it.
Raw Talent Guitar continues to WOW people. That’s the real point.
Each of the other halls were much more packed than Gear Alley, which led us to believe that at an event filled with indie music up close and personal, people don’t want to walk around a trade show about gear, equipment, amps, road cases, lighting equipment and such.
They’re over the wow-factor of everything and the stuff in Gear Alley was deemed uncool.
And Raw Talent Guitar is cool! We know because people told us so.
We checked out the other halls at the convention center’s trade shows, including the Guitar Showwhich left us in awe at the amazing guitars.
At the Stock Art show, we purchased posters of concerts we’d once attended (look for a post on that topic later, with lots of pictures!)
At the end of the entire experience, it remains an industry show. Go look up SXSW on Wikipedia and it will tell you the same thing. If you have the friends in the industry or are “in the know” you might get into bars on the fly. It really won’t matter how big the venue is inside, if it’s a popular showcase… good luck getting inside.
The crowds at night were much larger. We had badges as attendees and exhibitors and we still were denied at some of the cool places in town. Our industry friends were connected enough to tell us we’d be denied, but not connected enough to actually get us in.
If you can afford to get a decent hotel downtown and you can avoid driving or parking, and as long as you can handle BBQ for breakfast lunch and dinner, we would definitely recommend SXSW. Just make sure you can walk and plan ahead so you can take a week off of work and like to drink.