SXSW: Music, Barbecue And Brands

March 14, 2016

As a lover of music and barbecue, I found myself this time last year wandering the streets of downtown Austin, Texas, overwhelmed, over-joyed, and ready to dive in head-first.

I was one of the hundreds of thousands of people who attended South by Southwest — from the craziness of Sixth Street until four in the morning, to listening to Snoop Dog describe the pivotal moment he and Willie Nelson reached into the same bucket of friend chicken, to  marketing, promoting, and working three-day parties — SXSW is definitely one of the most eye-opening experiences I have ever had.

I say this because not only was I fortunate enough to participate in the panel-and-conference side, but as a part of one of my classes at McNally Smith, we were required to help market, promote, and work three-day parties put on by NoiseTrade and sponsored by Go Green Notes in association with Clif Bar. 


D-O-Double G as the keynote speaker.

SXSW is not just about music, film or interactive media — it’s about finding a way to utilize the unique platform that SXSW provides. Whether that be for musicians, entrepreneurs, brands, or just dedicated fans, it can be a major opportunity for all of the above to make some noise (no pun intended) if used correctly.

So if you are gracing downtown Austin this March, here are a few personal suggestions from one SXSW lover to the next.

The Blackheart is described as a “hip, moody bar with a retro vibe featuring creative cocktails, live music & two expansive patios,” located on Rainey Street. It has a variety of musical acts that pass through every year, and with two stages, it never disappoints.


Astronautalis freestyling about his grandmother’s cookies.


As SXSW sweeps into Austin every March, any and every sort of establishment can become a music venue. In this particular case, the Central Presbyterian Church quickly became on of my favorites as I sat in the balcony at 1 a.m. and watched Brandi Carlile un-mic’ed. If you have a chance to see a show here, I highly recommend. You could sing “Happy Birthday” in there and it would sound like a choir of perfectly harmonized angels — not that Brandi needed any help.

Panels, panels, and more panels. There are what seems to be an endless amount of panels to attend during your time in Austin, and yes, with the extra cost to attend the conference, I would say it is more than worth it to check out as many speakers as possible. From professional musicians, managers and publishers, to lawyers, scientists and entrepreneurs, everyone has an insight and there so much to take away. During my time there, I was able to meet Wynonna Judd (she follows me on Twitter 😉 ), listen to representatives from Cherry Tree, learn about the science of music within the brain, and have questions answered by people who I would have never been able to talk to otherwise. Whatever you do, bring something to take notes. 

The most important suggestion of all is Lambert’s BarbecueLocated on the corner of West Cesar Chavez and Guadalupe, it’s the best barbecue I have ever had. It’s so good, I consider it indescribable and might actually be the most life-changing part of my time in Austin. I wish I was kidding.

Between all the food, music and panels, there are different brands scattered throughout the area trying to make your time in Austin better, easier and more convenient on every corner — so take advantage of every minute. You never know what you can discover.