Once admitted into the graduate program at Columbia College Chicago, you have the opportunity to attend the Admitted Student Day. At this time, you get to connect with current students, faculty, and graduate admissions staff. In 2015, I heard about South by Southwest (SXSW) for the first time. I nodded my head furiously as the current 2nd-year MAM student talked to me about how excited he was to attend in a few weeks. From that moment, with the slightest amount of information, I wanted to attend. SXSW seemed like the ultimate experience for any music focus student at Columbia College, so it was added to my bucket list.
SXSW is an annual interactive, film, and music conference held in Austin, TX. This “meeting of the minds” brings together all types of artists and arts managers from around the world. The 10-day conference (March 10-19, 2017) hosts a multitude of keynotes, featured speakers, roundtables, sessions, and concerts. The entire city supports this week of culture and technology. For those in the interactive arts, film, and music industries–this is the place to network and display your work. Needless to say, this is the perfect conference for Columbia College Chicago students.
Each year in the Business and Entrepreneurship department, students from all areas of focus participate in programming, sessions, concerts, and networking. The AEMMP Record label hosts a Day Party with their artists and kick-off the Columbia SXSW experience for all students associated with the record label. Other students, like those in the Music Publishing class, have a chance to attend sessions specific to arts managers and managing a music catalog. Lastly, for example, my Sponsorship class, will have one-on-one meetings with event sponsors and take advantage of the marketing sessions offered at SXSW.
SXSW is a big deal, and being prepared is the key first step. As with any other industry conference, it’s best to prepare for the serendipitous encounters with potential employers and collaborators. I am just a few weeks away and have been thinking of ways to make my experience as beneficial as possible. For anyone planning to attend a conference similar to this, keep these key things in mind. I’ve been following this checklist for myself.
- Plan your transportation early. Big events like this not only attract more people but also higher airfare prices. Rule of thumb for regular travel, book 6-8 weeks in advance. SXSW travel needs 8-12 weeks in advance to get the good prices.
- Pack comfortable walking shoes. There is always a ton of walking for conferences as such. Don’t just throw a pair of flip-flops in your bag since Austin has warmer weather.
- Have your professional starter pack. That includes business cards, resumes, portfolio website links, etc. You want to be prepared for the networking that will take place.
- A phone charging bank will be your friend. Between Snapchatting your experience and checking in on the SXSW app, your battery will die by noon. Don’t be caught by the wall charging your phone for half an hour.
- Download the official conference app. This is your lifeline to the experience. There are always maps, timelines, discounts, addresses, contacts, etc. for everyone at the conference. When in doubt check the app…but download it first.
I’m very excited to attend SXSW for the first time this year. I expect nothing less than an amazing experience from attending concerts, networking with the signature sponsors, meeting other arts managers, and building on my current music business knowledge. I’ll be sure to check back in during my next post about my experience!