Click - Zsa & Claire - for video

The greatest music, film, and technology conference in the world is held each year in Austin, Texas.  Known as “South By Southwest” (but usually abbreviated to “South-By” among the locals), this combination conference and festival lasts for 10 full days.

During that time, over 1,300 bands, hundreds of movies, and the great minds of technology descend upon our fair city for an orgy of parties, seminars, sessions, screenings, and general good times.

This year, I had the good fortune to attend the four-day music portion of the fest.  Here’s what I learned:

In an era of digital recording and production, viral marketing, and instantaneous global distribution, the art of the sale remains alive and well.

Think about it; the members of over 1,300 bands from Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK, Japan, Cambodia, and from half the states in the U.S. came to Austin to showcase their talents.  They packed into vans, trucks, rickety old school busses, and Chrysler K cars.  They got in front of their customers and they played their hearts out.

Each band put on six or seven shows a day – traveling from club to bar to restaurant to parking lot.  And when there was no room anywhere else, they busked on street corners and handed out CDs.  I spoke with folk singers, aspiring country music stars, post-punk head-bangers, and Mac-toting electronica wizards.  They described to me their recording styles, the talent and quality of their bands, and their touring schedules.  They pressed CDs into my hand and made me promise to look them up on the Web.

In short, they were selling like madmen!

In many ways, these folks are classic entrepreneurs.  They bootstrap travel and accommodations, perform demos (shows) for their prospects and customers, and distribute tons of marketing material.  In spite of all the digital resources at their command, at the end of the day, their success or failure comes down to old-school, shoe-leather selling.

Toward the end of South-By, I ran into the two women featured in the YouTube video above.  Going by the name “Zsa & Claire”, they hail from Singapore.  They handed me a CD as I went from one venue to the next – and I’ve still got it in my CD player.

In honor of Zsa & Claire, and all these inspirational, hard-working performers, I hope you’ll enjoy their video – and remember how awesome music…and selling can be!