(Originally published during SXSW 2000.)
by Robert Wilonsky and Michael Corcoran
1. Before you sign a record deal, look up the word “recoupable” in the dictionary.
2. Rock critics don’t sell records, they only sell them back.
3. Your manager’s not helping you. Fire him or her. Same with your publicist.
4. When you talk on stage, you are never funny.
5. Never start a trio with a married couple.
6. If you want the Austin Chronicle to write about your band, don’t lead off your press kit with a review by Rob Patterson.
7. An 8 p.m. slot at SXSW is nature’s way of telling you it’s time to break up.
8. Other telltale signs: Audience members are wearing earplugs, and you’re an acoustic act, you’ve got a girl in the group and still can’t get booked on the KLBJ morning show, “Spinal Tap” isn’t funny anymore..
9. When you sign to a major label, claim to have inked the best contract ever. Mention “artistic freedom” and “guaranteed three-record deal.”
10. When you get dropped, insist that it was the worst contract ever and that you asked to be let go.
11. Listen, either you break it to your parents or we will: It’s rock ‘n’ roll, not soccer. They’ve gotta stop coming to your shows.
12. When you put together your bio, remember this: No one cares whom you’ve opened for.
13. If you sound like another band, don’t act like you’re unfamiliar with their music. (“Oh, does Rage Against the Machine also do rap-rock with political lyrics?”)
14. Never have dancers or painters onstage.
15. Never name a song after your band.
16. Never name your band after a song.
17. Don’t ever think it’s a good idea to be drawn for the cover of your CD.
18. Never enter a “battle of the bands” contest. If you do you’re already a loser.
19. The proper response to a request by police to move your van is “yes, sir” not “hey, man, I thought this was the live music capital of the world, man?”
20. Don’t tell people you run into that you’ll put them on your guest list unless you know their names. Nah, fuck ’em.
21. Drummers can take off their shirts or they can wear gloves, but not both.
22. It’s not a “showcase.” It’s a gig that doesn’t pay.
23. If you’re signed to a label from your hometown, you’re not signed.
24. If you go from being a musician to a spoken-word artist, you can’t go back.
25. SXSW oxymorons: “major label interest,” “demo deal,”
26. “Blues genius,” local supergroup,” “big in Finland
27. Playing San Marcos and Alpine doesn’t mean you’re out on tour.
28. Don’t stop your set to ask that beers be brought up. That’s what girlfriends/boyfriends are for.
29. If you use a smoke machine, your music sucks. Ditto a light show.
30. No song should be longer than the time it takes to smoke a cigarette, drink a beer or get a table at Vespaio.
31. Cut your hair, but do not shave your head.
32. Do not wear shorts onstage. Or a suit. Or a hat.
33. If you’ve played SXSW more times than Giant Sand, keep it to yourself.