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Brown Crew Tackles SXSW 2014

sxsw-ericSouth by Southwest. Stretched over 11 days at countless locations in the capital of Texas, this must be the largest event of its kind in the US. So many different voices from seemingly disparate worlds of technology, film and music all shouting above the other in an attempt to be heard over the near constant cracking of high 5s from fans. It can be polarizing, overwhelming and exhilarating.

A Brown Paper Ticket team was on the ground in Austin to keep the peace, spread the good news about affordable, full-service event ticketing and stay awake long after the party to bring you all of the dirt.

Trade Show Tech Talk
It all started with a 4-day trade show showcasing the most current and cutting-edge in entertainment technologies. Smart and shiny gadgets and displays, to be sure. But a lot to digest. Hot on the lips of most visitors to the Brown Paper Ticket’s booth was the topic of APIs and digital integration. Luckily, Brown Paper Tickets offers a bevy of developer tools and options for integrating our services into your platform.

sxswbooth1If you want to learn more, contact us at

Film Geeks
Then film geeks rolled in. Thousands of movies from all genres garnered long lines and generated lots of buzz throughout the convention center venues, cinemas and theaters around Austin. Not one to pass up a controversy, I attended the 4K scan of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Seeing the cult classic in the setting of its namesake with the creator in attendance was just too good to pass up.

Music, Metal and Feet-Filled Streets
As the trade show ended and we packed up our booth, down time was imminent. Boy were we mistaken. One million people seemed to descend upon downtown Austin, packing streets and sidewalks with raucous festival-goers all seeking sonic satisfaction. Having a head full of music myself, I quickly became ensconced in the never-ending tidal wave of band after band, venue after venue. I must’ve walked 40 miles hitting more than 50 venues over the next 4 days.

lynvalgoldingI have a penchant for the heavier stuff, so made it a point to check out a couple of bands that have used Brown Paper Tickets services along the way. First stop was The Dirty Dog to see local Olympia/Seattle favorites Christian Mistress. If old-school, witchy-heavy metal is your thing, this is your band. It’s great to see a band still delivering the darkness.

Later, I found myself again at The Dirty Dog to catch one of the most talked about live acts of the year, Whores from Atlanta. Trust me when I tell you that the energy coming off of these dudes is enough to make you lose your face right there in the club. Malevolent and hyper, if you can only see one live band this year, make sure you catch this one. They’ll make you smile and yell.

Directly after having my brain scrambled by those crazy Atlantans, I hopped straight into a pedicab and sped off to my own gig playing percussion with legendary Lynval Golding (of The Specials) and fellow Brown Paper Ticket colleague and music maven, Billy Geoghegan. At this point in the evening, I was really thankful for sensible shoes.

As the next day came and went, so did the SXSW festival. 11 days had passed in a whirlwind and on day 12, it was pleasantly quiet. We had just lived through what is most certainly spring break for the entertainment industry.

Austin, may we meet again next year.

Live well. But don’t be foolish. Like the drunk driver who, at this year’s SXSW event, killed and injured people in a shocking tragedy. It happened a mere 2 blocks from our hotel. To support the victims, you can donate to SXSWcares. Carpe diem. Life is short.

Post by Eric Peterson, Brown Paper Tickets client services tech manager. He began playing drums at age 8 and began working events in his teens. Eric has played with many artists on many stages, most notably the notorious Electric Hellfire Club.

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SXSW Comedy 2014 Recap

Attendee response to the first day of comedy at Austin’s 2014 South by Southwest Interactive/Film/Music Festival proved one thing undeniably: comedy personalities and projects are garnering more mainstream attention and attracting larger fan bases than ever before.

By early afternoon, the overflowing Convention Center hallways were rivaled by their meeting room counterparts. Though it was technically filed under Film programming, the 2 p.m. discussion between moderator Jeffrey Tambor and fellow Arrested Development castmember Jason Bateman (regarding directorial debut Bad Words) reached capacity and then some, with badgeholders huddled around the closed-circuit television outside the doors. Similarly, the Inside Late Night with Seth Meyers panel attracted a line that doubled back on itself an hour before its 3:30 start time, and hundreds were turned away after doors opened and the room immediately filled.

Over at 6th Street venue Esther’s Follies, Aisha Tyler’s 4 p.m. Girl on Guy podcast had been cancelled (a new TV pilot forced the comic-actress to break her SXSW commitment), meaning the first comedy event most fans could actually attend was a 5 p.m. live recording of the Harmontown podcast. Though the late addition to the lineup—a bid by Community and Rick and Morty writer-producer Dan Harmon to up interest in the four Film screenings of his Harmontown documentary—was offered the Esther’s Follies locale freed up by Tyler’s absence, Harmon curiously insisted on the Hilton Hotel’s Liberty Tavern, a cavernous bar off the lobby with high ceilings and plenty of background chatter.
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SXSW 2014 Comedy Preview

jim-breuer-03The newest tech innovations, music from all over the world and copious amounts of smoked meat are all well and good (or in the case of Franklin Barbecue, reeeally good), but SXSW attendees shouldn’t overlook the impressive spate of comedy events scheduled for 2014.

With the likes of Bill Cosby, Portlandia’s Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, Jeffrey Tambor, Pete Holmes and many more taking the stage in Austin March 8-14, it’s one of the annual festival’s strongest lineups to date…and that’s not even counting the presence of Jimmy Kimmel Live, which will broadcast five shows from the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Center for the Performing Arts.

On the party front, Funny or Die, Above Average and IFC will all host shindigs open to badgeholders. Most impressive, the festival’s opening night kicks off with a party sponsored by Late Night with Seth Meyers, slated for 10:30 p.m. at Buffalo Billards.

Some of this year’s many comedy highlights additionally include:
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Top 5 SXSW Survival Tips

SXSW2014-BillI’m heading to Austin, TX for a week plus of music, film, crowds, Tex-Mex cuisine and very little sleep. Want to get the most out of your SXSW experience? Here are a few tips.

1. Pace Yourself to Avoid Burn-Out
I first witnessed SXSW in 2002 as an Austin resident. Since then it has evolved and expanded greatly. With the addition of the interactive part of the festival, and the potential growth from the eco and fashion areas, there is no sign of slowing down. Smiling yet? Or does this raise anxiety or depression? Regardless, if you are going to SXSW for the first time, you are in for a hell of an experience. Pace yourself. Sleep when you return home. Or build in down time if you know you need it.

2. Don’t Plan Your Experience
There are thousands of bands playing all over the Austin, day and night, at parties and showcases hosted by record labels, tech companies and anyone else you can imagine. The best experiences I have had at SXSW were completely by chance. Whether it was discovering the Catalan punk band Unfinished Symphony, bumping into Gwar in the convention center, mistakenly walking into Stubbs right at the beginning of The Specials’ set or seeing Talib Kweli and Jimmy Cliff across the street from Whole Foods. All of these things were random happenings. Don’t get me wrong, there are always a few events that I set out to see. Schedule only a few things every day. But realize that if you know about the greatest show of the day, so does everyone else. How long of a line you are willing to stand in for any given show? Consider that. Go with the flow and don’t be surprised if the best thing you see happens in front of 20 people in a place you’ve never heard of.

sxsw-bill3. Prepare for Transportation
Logistics. Don’t let them ruin your SXSW experience. Getting around Austin during SXSW can be frustrating. Cabs are usually a bad idea. Good luck hailing or calling one—only to have someone else steal it a half a block away. If you take a taxi from the airport, or at any other time, I recommend you get a card with the driver’s cell phone, tip big and ask him if you can call him and during what hours. It might take him (or someone else he calls for you) a half hour to get you, but at least someone will come and you do have a number handy. The later it gets in the evening and the festival—the bigger a problem this becomes. I have spent an hour outside a hotel trying to hail a cab at 1:30AM with 2 of the doormen out on the street trying to hail cabs. Car2Go is very active in Austin, but it may be too late to register as a new member in time for SXSW. Pedicabs can be a great option for getting from East 6th Street over to West 6th Street in a hurry. Or try local drivers when possible. They know the area and you could be supporting the local independent economy. Walking is healthy, free and allows you to see a lot more. Downtown Austin has a feet-friendly Walk Score of 86.

Leave your car parked. The combination of traffic, scarce parking, over-priced parking and alcohol makes getting around SXSW by car a really bad idea.

4. Eat and Drink Like a Local
This is Austin. There is scrumptious food everywhere. Whether you dig Mexican food, barbeque, street food or even vegetarian—there are plenty of good places to find good eats. There are a lot of day parties that feature free food and even free beer (mostly light beer, not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially if you are pacing yourself).

Food and drink recommendations:

The Texas Cuban: South Lamar (Cuban sandwiches, fried plantains, Ting, free Lonestar tall boys on Saturday mornings)

Mother’s: Hyde Park (vegan and vegetarian cuisine)

Curra’s Grill: South Austin on Oltorf (great Mexican food, incredible avocado margarita)

Casino El Camino: 6th Street (best burgers and Bloody Mary’s in town)

Ruby’s BBQ: University area (lessor known piece of Austin music history, good BBQ too)

5. Go Off the Beaten Path at SXSW

There are special parties and happenings all over Austin—both official and unofficial SXSW events. If you get tired of 6th Street, there are plenty of alternatives to explore. The newly redeveloped east side is a short walk from 6th Street, and so is the fairly new Rainey Street District. Both areas are packed with bars, restaurants and food trucks, with music showcases all day and night. West 6th Street (@ Lamar Blvd.) is another hot spot. There is usually a bigger showcase (that’s where I saw Talib Kweli and Jimmy Cliff) there at Waterloo Records and many smaller showcases at the clubs and a couple small stages at Whole Foods. Austin is riddled with a slew of SXSW events. Venture out. Have a plan to get back safely.

Music recommendations:

Chicago Made Showcase (official): Tues. March 11, 8pm @ Red 7

Bipolar Sunshine @ SXSW (official): Tues. March 11 @ Latitude 30

SXSW Reggae Showcase (official): Wed. March 13, 8pm @ Flamingo Cantina

DigSin Dig Party (unofficial): Thurs. March 13, 1pm @ Majestic Austin

SXKeyBar (unofficial): Fri. & Sat. March 14/15 @ KeyBar

SXSW Outdoor Stage at Butler Park (open to the public w/ pass): Thurs. Fri. Sat., March 13/14/15

Enjoy yourself. Soak it all in. Be open to new experiences. Feel free to holler at me on Twitter and let me know of any cool events.

Music >

Austin’s Wildfire Festival and 3 Months of Reggae

185037-250Music festival season is fast approaching and our site is already starting to fill up with tickets to festivals all around the country.

One of the first big events of the season is, of course, SXSW in Austin, Texas. Originally started in 1987 as a way to showcase independent music, SXSW has turned into one of the biggest interactive media events in the country, complete with corporate-sponsored showcases featuring big name acts, high-tech trade shows and media startup conferences. Attendance has sky-rocketed from 700 attendees in its first year, to over 40,000 attendees today. As a result, being able to see bands has become a bit of a challenge for the average music fan.

That’s why we’re excited to be ticketing a real “independent” festival in Austin that’s focused on a genre of music that we deeply love here at Brown Paper Tickets: reggae! Our music doer Billy Geoghegan has been playing in reggae and ska bands for years and you’ll often hear a reggae beat coming out of the computer speakers of many of our employees’ desks.

So, when we see that we’re ticketing a festival like the 4th Annual Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival, we naturally want to spread the word and support it in any way we can. It’s going on during SXSW, so if you’re in town for “South By” and want to experience some high quality grooves in a beautiful setting, then Wildfire is for you!

Now in its fourth year, the Wildfire Reggae and Arts Festival will take place at The Music Ranch from Thursday, March 7 to Saturday, March 9 and will spotlight more than 30 bands offering a cross-section of the reggae genre, from ska to rocksteady to roots, dub and beyond. Past headliners have included Collie Buddz, Lynval Golding (of The Specials), HR (of Bad Brains), Common Kings, Contra Coup and Josh Heinrichs. This year offers another stellar lineup: Don Carlos (of Black Uhuru fame), Gyptian, Marlon Asher and the Farmers, The Expanders, Mike Love, Alex Marley, a large selection of DJ’s and more. They expect over 4,000 attendees this year and there will also be camping in a beautiful 80-acre oak tree forest. You can pick up daily passes, three-day passes or the coveted VIP passes right over here.

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Powerful combination: How to mix music and philanthropy

You can make a positive impact on the world through your events. We were lucky enough at SXSW to ask three music industry insiders how emerging musicians can create change. Their insights apply not only to bands and solo artists growing their careers, but to all of us that hold or organize events. You have a stage. Here’s how to use it for good:

Size doesn’t matter.

Of your audience, that is. As long as you have one fan, you have one person you can impact. Mike Martinovich, manager for My Morning Jacket and Flight of the Concords had this to say, “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing pubs, or an arena, you can make a difference. Collect emails. Collect a donation at the door. Tweet. The earlier musicians do it, the sooner it becomes institutionalized within themselves and their fans.”

Erin Potts, Executive Director at Air Traffic Control Education Fund agreed. “Musicians have historically been important allies in social justice… music helps people feel personally connected to issues. Musicians have incredible reach. Even small, beginning artists have email or social media lists larger than most non-profits.”

Respect your authority!

As an entertainer, you hold the great ability to reach and influence others on a very personal level. Andy Bernstein of HeadCount (which promotes such established groups as Pearl Jam, Phish, Death Cab for Cutie, and Dave Matthew’s Band) explains, “Social currency is everything. Musicians have the power to bring issues to the forefront with their social currency.”

Tip: You can watch Andy tell exactly how he helps artists make an impact in this video.

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Event Tips >

10 ways to get more cash out of your fundraising events





For all the time and effort poured into your fundraising events, you’d like to raise the most cash possible. Transforming a meh fundraising event into a cash cow can be simple. Really. Here are ten of the best ideas we’ve seen for getting more out of your fundraising events.

Ten ways to get more out of your fundraising event:
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Building community with events

We had the privilege of sitting down with Dave Olson, VP of Community at HootSuite, at SXSW this week. Listen as he talks about building community with events online and through social media.

Want more help and advice on pulling off successful events? Subscribeto our twice-a-month Event Success newsletter!

See more articles here.

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Fair Trade Music Bash in Austin this Wednesday

This Wednesday, March 14 in Austin, Texas six great acts are coming together to christen a brand new venue. Once called The Empanada Parlor, the venue at 709 E. 6th St. has been though some changes in the past few years. It’s newest incarnation is definitely the nicest one yet. Now called the Easy Tiger Bake Shop and Beer Garden, the place is looking nicer than ever, turning out great food, serving great craft beers and, once again, adding live music to the menu. This will be the first show at this familiar place with a new face and it will be followed by four days of two-showcases-a-day fun.

The first soulful showcase is being thrown by none other than Brown Paper Ticket! It seems a given that the fair trade ticketing company would throw a fair trade music bash. Right?

The show is free, but if you register online and get a ticket, you will receive a cool free gift at the show.

The line up is truly awesome with national and international acts and even two well known comedians!

Here it is….

12:00-1:00 LZ Love Band
1:30-2:30 Graham Wilkinson
2:45-2:55 Mike Lawrence
3:00-4:00 Bruce James Soultet
4:30-4:40 Kristine Levine
4:45-5:30 Chic Gamine

Chic Gamine “Closer”

Graham Wilkinson “Focus”

LZ Love “Been Lonely”

Come and out and say hello, raise a pint and show some soul!

Music >

Just For Laughs Chicago – The Pet Projects Series

The Just For Laughs Group was founded in 1983 with a focus on comedy festivals, television productions, live shows and talent management. The Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal is now the largest comedy event in the world and welcomes 2 million people every summer.

Brown Paper Tickets is proud to be ticketing this year’s Just For Laughs Chicago Festival‘s Pet Project Series at The Playground Theater from June 15 to June 17. The Pet Project Series is where some of Chicago’s finest comedians are given an hour to showcase their Pet Projects.
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