[more pictures here]
This is the email we set to participating manufacturers after our first official SXSW Stompbox Exhibit in 2014
SXSW has just released the official attendance numbers for all their events (here), and I’d like to take this opportunity to send you my thoughts about the 2014 SXSW Stompbox Exhibit.
PARTICIPATION: 30+ manufacturers
We had more than 30 pedal manufacturers involved, you can find the almost full list here
(add an extra 4-5 companies booked by Guitar World to it). This was drastically up from last year’s edition, when we had 18 participating manufacturers.
TRAFFIC ACCORDING TO THOSE WHO WERE THERE: From “Better than expected” to “Great”
Everybody I talked to was very pleased with the traffic we got at the Convention Center – from Guitar World staff to reps from T-Rex, EQD and the smaller manufacturers. The SXSW staff was also very excited and noticed that our booth was attracting a lot of attention – I think we can safely say that The SXSW Stompbox Exhibit, besides being the biggest booth at the Music Gear Expo was also the busiest one.
OFFICIAL SXSW TRAFFIC NUMBERS
• Flatstock 43 Poster Show Exhibit Spaces: 128; Combined attendance with Music Gear Expo over 3 days (approx.): 43,000
That 43k figure is shared with the adjacent poster art expo called Flatstock, but SXSW staff told me privately that their number for the Gear Expo was 23,775 – as counted by their door staff.
I still find that number not realistic, it probably includes a lot of people who dropped in without knowing what it was all about. Even if it’s impossible to get a precise number – I would say that throughout the 3 days we had somewhere between 2.5k and 3.5k guitarists actively trying out pedals, and maybe another 2k just walking by to take a look.
I consider this an incredible result considering that this was just our second year in Austin.
ATTENDEES: Young/emerging touring musicians + young and older locals
What I find interesting about the SXSW audience is that you get a lot of young musicians who are good enough to be called to play SXSW (pretty much every single emerging band wants to play SXSW, so these are the guys who were selected to play, no matter if they are there for an official or unofficial show). Also, they are exactly at the creative peak of their career, and they are very social, so if they find a pedal that excites them they are likely to spread the word about it.
On top of this, I personally did my best to promote the show to the local Austin musicians through geo-targeted ads in Google and Facebook. Austin has a rich community of musicians, mostly split between old timers into roots music and classic rock, and young college students interested in a more contemporary and experimental sound.
So overall it’s an audience interested in all kind of pedals, from the most classic to the most expreimental sounding ones.
POTENTIAL FOR THE FUTURE
In my opinion the potential for the future for this show is really incredible.
I spent a lot of time outside the convention center attending shows or helping my distribution staff put the magazines around, and – notwithstanding the great traffic we had – most guitarists I met weren’t aware of the Stompbox Exhibit.
This is due to the fact that it’s very hard to promote anything that happens in Austin during SXSW, because there are hundreds of events happening at the same time, and also because it’s hard to surgically hit with promotions exactly the guitarists who are going to go to Austin that week.
But the bottom line is that the more we keep at this and the more established the SXSW Stompbox Exhibit will become, the more traffic and interest it will generate, and promoting it will become easier.
PROMOTION AND PRESS COVERAGE
This was a little bit the more disappointing side of things. Because of Guitar World involvement the show wasn’t covered or promoted by other guitar publications like Premier Guitars and Vintage Guitars, although it needs to be considered that these publications don’t normally send staff to SXSW.
I think we all (The Deli, SXSW and Guitar World) did a great job in promoting the show, but we’ll seriously have to discuss how to improve press coverage for next year.
I hope you found this information useful. Please do not hesitate to send me any questions if you have them.
Paolo De Gregorio