I spent the past 10 days enjoying the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. What began as a music festival for unknown artists has morphed into a media spectacle covering tech, film, and music. This was my first SXSW so I can't be one of those people who says "it was so much better way back when." This is a common sentiment among SXSW loyalists. What I can say is that I'm glad this wasn't my first exposure to Austin. It's a great city, but the music portion essentially ruins it for 5 days. For local businesses and the local government it's probably a good thing. The amount of dollars SXSW brings in is ridiculous and I'm sure quite a few businesses have their best weeks of the year during this time.
As for musicians? The majority threw away an outstanding opportunity.
I saw exactly one band (Vandaveer) sell CDs after their show. But even then they didn't announce anything for sale while on stage. I understand it's not cool to "sell out," but you know what else isn't cool? Not having enough money to do what you love.
There were a handful of artists I would have purchased music from and I don't even have a CD player! (I would have had a friend rip the MP3s for me.) Instead I bought 3 albums off AmazonMP3 (Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, Leslie Stevens and the Badgers, and The Jezabels), from which the artists probably only got a few dollars. Wasted opportunity. Captive, slightly (or incredibly, depending) intoxicated audiences in a festive money-spending mood usually don't come around very often. Yet the only people that seemed to be making money was everybody except the musicians who needed it most.
If you're running a business (a band is surely a business whether the artist likes it or not) you are an idiot if you have a captive audience and you don't offer them what they want.
I'm told that bands get paid only $150 for an official SXSW showcase. (The drummer for a 4 time SXSW band told me this.) Maybe that's different depending on the band but let's run with that number. Gas to get to the festival is probably at least a few hundred dollars for most artists. That means that you're in the negative before you even play. Most artists only play one or two official shows and then a few unofficial shows (where they don't get paid). So most band's expenses to come to SXSW are out of pocket. It's not worth it to play here for most artists unless they can at least break even. The days of being "discovered" and given a huge recording contract are behind us. But what SXSW offers is exposure to new fans, who will hopefully spread the word. It's easy to make $50-$100 extra per show just by selling a few CDs and helping those fans spread that word. If you're phenomenal you'll make even more.
I could go on, but this article isn't even about music.
While getting pissed off at the bands I wanted to buy stuff from I thought to myself: Where am I wasting opportunity?
When answered honestly this question can open your eyes to things you haven't seen before.
I readily admit that I've wasted a lot of opportunity in my time and I wanted to take a moment to dissect where I'm currently wasting opportunity.
- When I meet people I do a bad job of following up.
I fixed that recently at SXSW Interactive by only taking biz cards from people I truly wanted to follow up with. Then I followed up. Simple. :) It only takes a few minutes per email and who knows, it might result in a good friendship or partnership in the future. Personal and business relationships all begin somewhere.
- I have a lot of customers from the business side of RE and I rarely follow up with them.
Not to sell but just to keep in touch. Offer some value. Let them know I'm here.
- The 72 hour sales have been a huge fun success and I haven't been vigilant about setting up the next one.
Baker and I met up and talked strategy last week. The copycats won't know what hit 'em. That's not coming from a place of anger, but from a place of "we know what we have, we know what we can do, and we know what you're not doing." I don't believe the pie is finite. I fully believe in expanding the pie so we're doing just that. You'll love what's coming at Only72. :)
- I don't give enough people enough credit.
This is something far too many bloggers get wrong. One of the reasons I started the Sweet Shit Saturday posts was so I could give credit to my favorite writers, but I still don't feel I do it often enough. I'll try my best to spread the love right now. I met a lot of fantastic people this past week. Some for the first time, some for the second time, and some for the umpteenth time.
Just a few of the great people I conversed with (action takers doing sweet shit): Nick, Markus, Heather, Ashley, Jenny, Jenny, Baker, Matt, Sean, Chris, Benny, Laura, Holly, Scott, Hilah, Christopher, Matt, Cody, Norcross, Adam, Dave, Monique, Joshua, Nicky, Anne, and many others.
Proof that I don't give enough people enough credit is that I didn't add this section to this article until a few hours before my scheduled posting time and I know I'm not remembering everybody as my brain/body are recovering from 10 days of sensory overload.
There are other places I'm wasting opportunity, but you don't want to read another thousand words. Let's wrap this up with ...