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SXSW: Find the Best Gigs With These 5 Essential iPhone Apps

March 20, 2009

SXSW_2009AUSTIN, Texas — The South by Southwest Music festival, which starts Wednesday night, is an all-you-can-eat buffet of live rock and roll. There are hundreds of shows stacked up over five days, and it’s impossible to see them all.

Luckily, there’s a wealth of tools available for the iPhone to help you plan your social schedule so you can catch the hottest bands and hook up with your friends at the same time.

Before you hit the streets of Austin, load up your iPhone with these apps and save some bookmarks for these mobile sites on your phone’s home screen. As long as AT&T’s network stays up, you’ll be able to keep the groove going.



This free iPhone app shows you a map of nearby gigs in whatever city you’re in. If you have a 3G iPhone, you can let Bandloop sniff your location with GPS and you’ll see a map overlaid with markers for nearby clubs. Tap the marker to see the name of the venue and who’s playing, and tap again to see more info about the club and each artist on the bill, including photos, descriptions and website links. You can toggle between today and tomorrow, so listings are only about 48 hours deep. But it’s helpful to have that filter since you probably just want to decide where you’re heading later tonight. The map-based interface is a nice touch, especially if you want to zoom in on a particular area to see what’s happening within stumbling distance.

One feature Bandloop lacks is social sharing — you can’t invite your friends to join you at a show, but at least you’ll have enough info to fill a tweet or an SMS.


Jambase The popular concert listings website has scored a winner with its free iPhone app. The app is basically an extension of the website, where, if you get a free login, you can filter JamBase’s massive database of live shows to see listings of when and where your favorite bands are playing. If you have a 3G phone, tap the location finder when you touch down in Austin and you can see where all your favorite acts are playing during SXSW. Tap the toggle button at the top of the screen to display all events and you can browse every single show by every band.

Of course, if you don’t have a JamBase account, you can still use the app to browse all the shows. Just prepare yourself for a flood of listings, ’cause JamBase has them all. When you find that can’t miss gig, tap the listing to see a map and e-mail the details to your friends.

Lastfm Just because it’s a British company doesn’t mean isn’t hip to SXSW. The music site has created a tool called SXSW Band Aid. Enter your user name, and you get a personalized list of recommended SXSW shows. The list is built from both your Scrobbled plays and data from the site’s recommendation engine. Once you get your list, you can go through each event and add the ones you want to attend to your own personal calendar. You can comment on the show, e-mail the details or invite your friends, too.

Once you’ve loaded up your calendar, access your schedule via the “Events” section of’s free iPhone app. If you don’t have the app (it’s free, so what are you waiting for?), you can also access your events through the mobile version of the site. Better yet, lets you export your list of shows to iCal or Google Calendar and browse your schedule that way.

Sched This webapp was born last year at SXSW from the same minds who brought you Hype Machine. It’s proven to be a huge hit during the 2009 edition as well. Surf to for an unofficial listing of everything happening at the massive festival. You can filter listings by date, and you can view parties, music events or unofficial concerts separately or all together in a color-coded list. Curious about a band? finds free MP3 downloads for you.

If you take the time to create a login — no profile or verification required, just choose a name and password and you’re done — you gain the ability to build a personalized schedule. You also get a unique URL you can pass around to your friends. Each event’s page also lists other Sched users who are planning to attend, so you can search by user name to see where your friends (or that hipster in the T Rex shirt you’re stalking) are going to be next.


Sonicliving There’s no iPhone app for this concert listing service, but there is a truly awesome iPhone-optimized website. The company even added a special SXSW section to the mobile site’s main navigation. You can browse today’s shows by time, artist and venue. You can also jump ahead to see any shows happening on any specific day during the festival, or one massive list of all SXSW shows (again, not for the faint of heart). Logged in users get the added benefits of being able to build their own schedule by adding shows from the SXSW listings with a single tap. They can also view the schedules of their SonicLiving friends and coordinate together by inviting each other to shows. Oh, and every venue, band and showcase is searchable.

One fun little addition — at the very bottom of the iPhone site, you’ll see an item labeled “Need a cab?” Tapping it loads up the App Store page of Applandia’s free Taxi app, which you can use to conjur up a ride. File this under more cute than useful — an empty cab at SXSW is about as scarce as a sober frat boy in a Phish parking lot.



If I was an unsigned/independent artist in 2009, I would (in no particular order)…

January 27, 2009



If you’re unaware of Twitter then allow me to inform you that 2009 will be the year of Tweeting and all things Twitteriffic. Twitter is a social network/micro blogging site which allows you to send and read messages of up to 140 characters in length (the same size as a standard SMS Text Message). Sound brief? That’s the whole point; you ‘Tweet’ to tease per se. “Did you see this article on how the Ting Ting’s are coping with the economic recession? (Insert mini link here)” for example.

Barack Obama Tweeted his way through the last election and Stephen Fry often informs us of his daily musings but this post here informs you of the 10 Twitters you should follow if you have an interest within the music industry. You should also have a gander at these articles; Gerd Leonhard’s “So now you’re on Twitter – so what should you do next?”, The Guardian’s “Making the most of Twitter”,’s “How to use Twitter for music promotion” and Mashables “The top 10 reasons why I will not follow you in return on Twitter”. After you’ve read all of them you should be a Tweeting machine!

If my word isn’t proof enough for you I even noticed that Twitter was ‘Hot’ in the hot or not column of Glamour magazine last month and we all know they’re at the forefront of young professional female based technology.

Have a play with SEO

Now granted this is a rather technical one for all the geeks out there so if you fancy yourself as ‘web savvy’ then this is something to have a look into. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ which in laymans terms simply means “If I type my artist name into Google, will I be at the top of the results?”. This is rather useful for those out there who may have a common name that is easily lost in the ether, for example my favourite folk artist ‘John Smith’; the man who possesses the most common name in Great Britain appears 6th when you search for him on Google but with a bit of SEO then he may very well appear higher. Want to listen to Liverpudlian electronic duo and Sentric’s favourites ‘A Cup Of Tea’? A search on Googles proves unsuccessful for the first 15 pages of results.

Read this by the ever brilliant Google and you’ll be way on your way…

Focus on making money from areas other than selling my music

As it stands the majority of artists reading this blog will be way off making a living from their art – such is life and the industry we work in – but there are a few areas that can help subsidise you through this downturn.

  • Performance Royalties Societies can obviously collect all your performance royalties for you, if its £40 or £4,000 its still money that’s yours so why not collect it?
  • Club nights- Quite a few artists of note started putting on gig nights in their home cities in order to earn a few bob (Kaiser Chiefs are probably the best example) but I do ask one thing of you, if you are going to do this then please do a good job! The last thing this country needs is more useless promoters. (Further reading: Where is Everyone? – The ‘art’ of gig promotion)
  • Merchandise – Nothing groundbreaking here but it’s unbelievable how lazy artists can be in terms of merchandise. Think outside the box. The world doesn’t need another name on a shirt (unless the name is emblazoned as an amazing looking logo of sorts) so be entrepreneurial; buy things that are cheap and add value to them somehow.
  • Library Music – Have you got decent quality recordings of old songs you don’t use/care for hanging around? Get in touch with a library music company and potentially earn money for nothing. An artist informed me “my mate makes over 10grand per year of 35 instrumental tracks and he doesn’t have to lift a finger to push them. I like them apples”.

Gig like hell

Simple one but the more you gig the more your music is heard, the better you get and the more you’re talked about.  Discuss with the rest of your group (or your imaginary friend if you’re a solo artist) how often you’re willing to gig.  Twice a week? A fortnight? A month? And start booking as many as possible in your region. Try to avoid playing the same city more than once a month though or people will get bored.

Practice like hell

Simple yet again but the more you practice the better you get.

Write constantly

When ‘us industry types’ go and see an artist we’re always keen to know how long the artist in question has been going for as there is a kind of music line graph in our head ranging from conception to death. This graph changes for each genre and artist type (I.E. solo or group) but click here for an example of an acoustic singer/songwriter (pinch of salt please).

The more you write the better your art will be (of course there are always exceptions to this rule but in the majority of cases practice really does make perfect).

Keep up to date with the industry I was part of

The internet is a wealth of information and knowledge and most of it won’t cost you a penny which is nice during this economic climate. (On a side note: remember when none of this money malarkey mattered? I was spending some time with my 2 year old niece recently and she was delirious with joy over a stickerbook. Amazing scenes. She probably thinks Credit Crunch is some form of biscuit treat. To quote Russell Howard “We’re all just a brief sneeze in time” – words to remember the next time you’re feeling the strain in your wallet, or just stressed about anything really).

Anyhow; coolfer, DiS, Gigwise, New Music Strategies, No Rock and Roll Fun, the twitter people mentioned above and of course the Sentric Music blog should be enough to keep you in the loop. Get used to using RSS feeds as well and it’ll save you no end of time.

Brand myself

This could be as simple as a colour/random object or as complicated as you’d like it to be, but is well worth implementing to your image. Using consistent branding and font styles to all your artwork/websites etc help continuity and also make you look more polished, but as before with the merchandise, think outside the box. Envy and Other Sins always set out their stage so it looks like my Nan’s hallway of sorts with rugs and hat stands and now every time I see a hat stand (which granted isn’t that often but that’s why it works in my opinion) I think of them. Extremely subtle yet effective at the same time.

Know who my fans are

Constantly get compared to a couple of well known artists? Well aim for their fans as chances are they’ve more chance of liking your music then others. Using tools like, iTunes Genius or Amazon’s ‘people who bought this also bought’ feature can help you define the market you’re aiming for to give you a better chance of successful exposure.

You should also make the effort to engage with fans, responding to Myspace messages, emails, tweets, staying after gigs if any of them want to have a drink with you etc. Just be nice, it genuinely helps.

Utilise free tools

Mailing lists, analytical tools, blogging platforms, social networks etc They’re there, they’re free, they’re useful

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