It's officially been seven days since we got home from this year's South By Southwest (SXSW) festival, and man oh man, that came and went in a hurry. Laurel, Tyler Rima (bassist of Churchill) and I all drove down together and had what was potentially the most fun road trip of my life. I fed a Donkey an apple, Tyler hopefully got a sweet new work gig out of it, Laurel rocked some sweet new Colorado swag and was properly educated on Austin Food culture. We survived 14hrs of driving with only 5 CDs in the disc changer and did not kill one another...I feel like that's a success right there.

Last year was my very first time in Austin for SXSW, and it was more or less an accident. I had bought a plane ticket with the intentions of just going to see what I could see. I wasn't yet 21, so I knew that there'd be some potential challenges since almost every venue is 21+, but I was sick of sitting around every year wishing I was there. A last minute phone call from my boys in Air Dubai guaranteed me an exciting week when they asked me to TM (tour manage) for them, and from there everything was set. SXSW 2013 was easily one of the most fun weeks of my life. The schedule was grueling, the work even more so, but it was incredible. I was in a city filled with people who did what I did. All the big wigs I'd studied, the people I admired, they were all within a 4 mile radius. And there was me: caught smack in the middle of it all. I met some incredible people who offered me great insight and great opportunities. I made connections, shook hands, and handed out every last little "Maddie-sized" business card I could in between loading the van and herding boys cross-city to their next interview. It was fantastic, so when March rolled around this year, I couldn't focus on anything else. I was ready to go.

me, Tyler and Laurel in front of the infamous "Austin" sign. 

This year was different, but not in a bad way. I wasn't out there working for a band, I was there simply as "Maddie". With my impending graduation just around the corner, I wanted to focus on networking as much as possible. I have a terrible paranoia that I've spent so long unfortunately turning down jobs due to school that my opportunities will have run dry once I finally have the chance to take them on! My goal for this year was to shake some hands, take some names, and let the industry know I'm ready and coming for them. I tried split my time in Texas in half: one part networking, one part covering shows for Ultra5280. I got to photograph and interview a lot of amazing artists for the blog, which was a blast! (Here's a link to my Interviews) But not being on a schedule as tight as a band is on down there (7+ shows in 4 days, PLUS interviews? Can you say hectic??!?!) gave me the ability to stay and chat with interesting folks when I met them. I had the chance to watch new artists, which i loved! And much to my surprise, this year was just as productive networking as it was last year. Admittedly I was worried I wouldn't be in the right spots at the right times since I wasn't with a band, but I feel like I did pretty alright for being all aloney on my owney.

SXSW hasn't let me down yet, it's been two years full of fun and absolute shenanigans. Whether that's meeting the man who runs my friend's "OKCupid" account, physically bumping into Denver's King of Radio (93.3's Nerf) on a street corner at 2am, accidentally talking myself into backstage VIP at a potential Stroke's reunion show, or just sitting back and watching my musical friends do what they love most, SXSW never fails to surprise me. I'm only seven days out, but I'm ready and waiting for round three next year.

Click here to see my photos on Ultra5280's website!