SX60: Day 13 – What Gets You in Where?

by Daniel Ramirez on February 22, 2016 in Travels,
SX60 Badges e1456175861811

There’s more than a healthy bit of confusion regarding what SXSW actually means, once you’re on the ground in Downtown Austin. With venues booked months in advance and different badges, wristbands and RSVP lists, it’s hard to know what all will get you into what party/venue. So, on this, the unluckiest day of SX60 – Day 13, we thought we’d let you know in advance what might tilt the scales of luck in your direction. Here’s a quick guide to what gets you into what show/venue/party/event/session.

SXSW Platinum Badge

This is the crown prince of all access. It allows you, for the most part, to advance to the front of the line for any Music, Film or Interactive session or performance. The Platinum badge grants you access to all the parties, sessions and events held by SXSW official. It is the measure by which all other access is judged and it is photo ID and QR code keyed to its registered owner. There is no transferring and no sharing. The Platinum Badge sales, over the past few years, have increased exponentially. Therefore, it does not ensure that there will be no line for your desired event. The best way to ensure that (see yesterday’s post) is to show up at least 30 minutes early. With a Platinum Badge and a little planning and early arrival, there is almost no event you can’t have primary access to attend (* – see exception at bottom).


Special to badgeholders for SXSW is the SXXPRESS PASS. This is the best possible access. It allows the badgeholder to skip even badge lines and be the next person let into a venue/session/screening, regardless of demand. A limited number of these are distributed per day/per badge, so get yours early and study how to be GUARANTEED to enter your chosen venue.

SXSW Gold Badge

The gold standard for Film & Interactive, the SXSW Gold Badge works much like its big brother, the Platinum Badge, in that it allows you to bypass lines for single-conference registrants for events/venues/sessions, but specifically only for Film and Interactive (no Music). Now, that access might not be that advantageous, as Film and Interactive Badge holders usually spring to upgrade to Gold. Badge lines are the same as above, and high-profile events and sessions mean one should arrive early to ensure attendance (* – see exception at bottom).

SXSW Film/Interactive/Music Individual Badge

Registering for any one of the SXSW iterations grants you access to all the parties, sessions and events held by SXSW official. It ensures that the particular content you want is addressed sufficiently, as you can attend any session applicable to your field. There are a few crossover events, so pay attention to the official schedule, but this badge grants entry before wristbands, tickets and stand-by lines (* – see exception at bottom).

SXSW Music Wristband

Basically, a pre-paid cover charge for all SXSW official venues, the SXSW wristband is the locals-only way to do SXSW. You must have a local Austin ZIP code to purchase (and wristbands are currently sold out), but this will get you through the door, but won’t allow you to bypass lines for the musical events. Additionally, in years past, this will allow some session access on Saturday & Sunday of SXSW Music (events held in the Convention Center).

SX Guest Pass

The SXSW Guest Pass enables anyone to attend a number of SXSW events, including the ever-amazing Flatstock (poster exhibition), the SXSW Gaming Expo, Music Gear Expo and the Outdoor Shows at Lady Bird Lake, which are always headliner-level acts, curated over a few days at SXSW. These passes can be registered for now and picked up at specific locations during SXSW, allowing you to experience a host of SXSW events. NOTE: This wristband is not to be confused with a SXSW Music Wristband, nor does it grant access to any official SXSW Music/Film/Interactive session/event/party.

SXSW Film Wristbands & SXSW Film Second Half Wristbands

These are a level below the Film Badge and grant access (via waiting in line for all badgeholders – Film, Gold & Platinum) to be seated for a specific screening and then access is based on capacity.A great way to see a lot of SXSW Films, this is the most efficient way of catching a World Premiere without a badge. However, with access being based on capacity and number of badgeholders attending, we cannot stress enough that this method requires EARLY arrival.

SXSW Film Tickets

Based on demand and capacity, some tickets may be available to attend SXSW screenings at the door for a nominal ($12) fee. Based solely on capacity, these tickets must wait for all badges and wristbands to enter, and then they will be seated. Not the most bankable way to see a film at SXSW, but not without its merit for second showings or films screened at the Long Center or Story of Texas Spirit Theater.

Specific Parties/Day Showcases *

– This level occasionally ignores all Official SXSW badges/wristbands and is based on capacity & RSVP

This is where the freebie-based SXSW-goer makes a living. Many sponsors/labels/films will host private and specific events, based on their willingness to RSVP ahead of time, wait in line for over an hour and stay in one place. A prime example of a wait that’s well worth it, year in and year out, is Rachael Ray’s Feedback, (link to last year’s event – closed link) held at Stubb’s annually. Featuring more than a handful of headliners over the course of the last Saturday of SXSW, Feedback also serves free food and beverage to those willing to wait to get inside. Rain or shine, this event is a MUST ATTEND (more when details emerge). Other private events and sponsored parties take place during SXSW, and if you’re willing to do the work (or read our “Who to follow” entry from a few days back), you can get into some great events, capitalizing on SXSW-adjacent venues. Examples of these have been Justin Timberlake at the Copper Tank, Prince at La Zona Rosa, Foo Fighters with Stevie Nicks at Stubbs, and an incredible performance at Spredfast’s SXSW Social Stage by The Flaming Lips and Future Islands.

For a complete breakdown on SXSW Official access, CLICK HERE.