9 Reasons Why I Won’t Be Attending Your SXSW Party…


Thank you very, very much for the invite.  But here’s why I won’t be attending your SXSW party.

(1) Very little gets done at SXSW parties, except for partying.

I like to party and be merry, with my friends.  In a business context, parties are extremely ineffective for  (a) getting information about the industry, (b) structuring any sort of business relationship, or even (c) networking effectively.  

In fact, SXSW parties are extremely ineffective places for accomplishing anything business-related.


(2) People are extremely distracted at SXSW parties, and conversations are frequently interrupted.

Great, fruitful discussions are focused and build upon ideas.  They reach conclusions and offer next steps.  But SXSW parties are crammed with people that often know one another, and frequently interrupt each other.  Throw in lots of noise, appetizers and inevitable group conversations, and you are suddenly getting zero done.


(3) Please don’t tell me I should relax and enjoy SXSW.  If you don’t agree with the above, you are not operating in the music business.

You are attending parties, and pretending that you are somehow assisting your business goals.  That is a fantasy.


(4) SXSW is very expensive.

Even if you live in Austin, then you are still paying a lot for a badge and even more with your time.  And if you’re traveling from anywhere outside the immediate area, you are paying disproportionately large amounts for flights, hotels, and food.  Which means you should only attend SXSW if (a) you are making more money than you spend (ROI), or (b) you just want to soak it all in and have a great time.

(b) is fun, but please don’t confuse (b) with business.


(5) Parties are often geared towards consumers, not people in the music business.

Being aware of who’s around and making an impact at SXSW is a good idea.  But thinking that hanging out at the Spotify House (or whatever it’s called) is adding anything substantive to your business is seriously misguided.  You are just hanging out at a party (see #1).


(6) Getting drunk is bad for business.

In South Korea, getting drunk is part of the business culture and will help you close deals.  In the US, it will probably not further your goals; and more likely, it will harm them.  You will not remember details of conversations, and you probably won’t remember who the f*&k you were talking to, anyway.


(7) Parties are usually crammed with people that will waste your time.

You have email.  You have LinkedIn.  You have a thousand other tools to directly connect with people.  Use those to target people and decision-makers you actually want to talk to.  Many of them are at SXSW, but are basically useless to you in a crowded party environment.


(8) Parties are extremely  time-consuming.

SXSW is not business-friendly: it takes a really long time to walk through the crowded streets to find a party.  One you are there, you will have to weave your way into the event and try to find the people you want to talk to.  Parties are typically very noisy, so it is difficult to work through a conversation (see #2).

Repeat a few times, and your entire day is consumed.


(9) One-on-one or small group conversations in a relatively quiet environment are 1,000 times more effective than any SXSW party.

I’m not just writing about this, I’m practicing this.  At SXSW, I will be conducting meetings in environments that are relatively free of distractions and encourage more focused discussion.   I’ve picked companies that I feel are important to meet with and can help me, like CD Baby, A2IM,  StageIt, Jaybird Communications, Cashmere Agency, Cap That, and SongLily, just to name a few.

Sorry if that doesn’t fit the culture of SXSW or the ‘music business,’ but then again, that culture is half the reason the music industry is in the state it’s in.  Passion still wins; partying doesn’t.  And I’ve got s*&t to do.

31 Responses

  1. Chris H

    I guess MIDEM is more your scene.

    I find the exact opposite to be true for almost all of your points, except the crowd noise.

    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      See this is exactly what I’m talking about. I hopefully described to you why I am going to SXSW, and how I am using it to my benefit (for starters, a lot of people are there). But you think that if I’m not there for endless partying and hanging out that somehow I’m a ‘grinch’. Sorry, I already went on vacation, and I got Spring Break out of my system in college.

      • Jonny

        Nobody thinks you’re a grinch, or a party pooper or some sort of super astute music business type. Nobody gives a shit!

      • DUDE

        You kinda threw down that gauntlet when you wrote a whole self-righteous article knocking the people partying it up for not being serious about their business. Feeling a little defensive are we?

        • Carlos

          And you wonder why music industry is in the crapper. SXSW is a giant party where nothing gets done. DMN just stating the obvious.

          • DUDE

            (More) seriously though, its totally understandable if you dont get much done at parties and if you don’t like partying for its own sake. And Im sure there are plenty of people deluding themselves and accomplishing nothing at SXSW. But on the other hand, not everyone operates the way you do — some people do get shit done at parties, and some people can hit the parties hard and then jump into productive 9am meetings the next morning like its nothing. To each their own and all that.

            Posting a whole public self justification and taking digs at partygoers for not being business minded isnt exactly a ‘live and let live’ type move though. What was the point if not to shit stir and bait people into making these kinds of comments?

  2. SXSW Is Not for Music

    Tech & Film is where the real money is. Go party it up dead music industry!

  3. Benny Blanco

    And one of the biggest parties at SXSW in recent memory?


    Any questions?

  4. toobad

    This industry is about relationships… you can and should build them wherever you are..

  5. Deron Wade

    Good article. I agree with you completely and got a good laugh. Not to mention, at parties, it’s really f’n loud and if you’re drinking you’re going to lose your voice very quickly! So your f#$%’ed if you want to network and if you’re performing a show the next day. Being in my thirties now, I enjoy getting shit done like you. Partying is much more enjoyable when it’s earned. DW

  6. Bob

    Why would anyone care whether Paul Resnikoff is attending their party at SXSW?

    • Where's Dre?

      Nobody cares where Paul is but he’s spot on. For expample, at CES, companies have side rooms and suites reserved to meet with decision makers, talk quietly and advance deals. At night, plenty of partying in Vegas but during the day – CES is all business. At SX, the best you will get is a contact info to follow up AFTER SX. I’m with you on this one Paul.

  7. Chris

    Hang on Paul – I mentioned pretty much this exact set of comments (well not exactly but I summarised) in the article about midem stating SXSW was a piss up for a week with no business and I distinctly remember you stating the exact opposite?

    So which is it then – is SXSW a waste of time for business or not?

    • this guy+over+here

      I think what Paul is saying, and I’m totally with him on this, is that there is plenty that can be done and accomplished at SXSW, but if your whole trip is about going to parties and having free drinks, you won’t accomplish anything.

      My days are packed with one on one meetings and I will get a ton done. I will consume 2 alcoholic drinks per day as per my rule, and I will have a successful SXSW like I always do.

      • Chris

        I’m not saying that isn’t the case – I’m asking why Paul seems to have had a 180 degree turnaround about SXSW?

    • hippydog

      quote “you’re just old, and that’s ok.”

      LOL, hits the nail on the head.. 😉

      Sorry Paul, but I have to warn you, these feelings will only get worse.. Within a decade you will be yelling at kids to get off your lawn 😉

  8. churchlady

    “Thank you very, very much for the invite.” That second “very” seems insincere.

  9. Lucas

    I generally don’t go to SXSW for all the reasons you give here. It’s a super inefficient use of time.

    But SXSW is really productive for developing personal relationships that you can rely on later, so I try to go every few years.

  10. D

    The article should be titled “I go to SxSW for all the wrong reasons, and so should you”. Talk about an author missing the point of the event.

    Oh, and as for #3… if this is what you truly believe – you are in the *wrong* music business. This biz is not what you define it to be – it defines itself and you adapt or die. Learn to operate as it does – or leave it alone. It’s not for you.

  11. Jota

    Hey ,I’m new here, whats up with the register feature, is there exclusive content? Just wondering…

  12. In General

    It’s funny how most posters on here toss a dis at DMN, yet they keep coming back for more.

  13. Noogie Smith

    SXSW is a complete waste of time, a big corporate fart. Meanwhile, the City of Austin makes tens of millions off it every year.


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