1) Don’t cover any band being paid to be there.
2) Don’t cover any band on a major label. (See No. 1.)*
3) Don’t cover any band who sold more than 10,000 albums last year. (See No. 1.)
4) Don’t cover any band who’s playing a headlining show in your city a month later. (See No. 1, probably.)
4) Don’t cover any event held in a venue that holds more than 500 people. (See… you get the picture.)
I’ve gone to SXSW for the last four years. Every year, writers complain about encroaching corporate influence and vent about either having to cover Justin Timberlake or not getting into Justin Timberlake. You did not need to fly to Texas to do this. The only readers who care what Justin Timberlake did at SXSW are waiting in line for his show and not clicking on your website.
There are going to be 2,000+ bands there this year. A lot of them are awesome, especially the ones that haven’t received three track reviews on Pitchfork already. The best events are unofficial and during the day and don’t have lines. So go do some reporting. Spend your own stupid money on beer. I believe in you.
*Full disclosure: Hell yeah, I saw Paramore last year. Follow yr heart.