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How do you get to South by Southwest?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 9, 2010 07:32 AM

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Everyone knows the old joke about how you get to Carnegie Hall. 

But how does your band get to South by Southwest, the enormous music festival that descends on Austin, Texas next week?

You pay $40 to Sonicbids to submit your band's EPK (electronic press kit) to the festival organizers. This is the Boston start-up's third year of handling the submission process for the festival. The company sells a subscription-based service that helps bands market themselves and land gigs; it also helps promoters book bands for shows and festivals.

"For us, it's a great way to drive new customers," says Sonicbids CEO Panos Panay of the South by Southwest partnership. "We get several thousand [new customers] every year from South by Southwest. As part of the application process, you get a six-month free trial [of the service], and we hope you fall in love with it and stay on board." The company charges $6 a month for its basic service, and $11 a month for a premium version. 

Panay says the company has fifty full-time employees, and that 230,000 bands from 100 countries use the service (that's a mix of free trials and paid subscriptions.) Sonicbids raised $4.5 million in VC funding back in 2007.

Sonicbids also holds a big annual party at South by Southwest (it happens next Friday), and Panay says it's "open to everybody" (which likely means long lines.) The bands playing the party include Jets Overhead, The Uglysuit, and Boston's-own Cassavettes. If you're not in Austin for it, you can watch the Webcast here.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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