If barbecued brisket and a live band sound like a good idea to you, you may want to head to Austin for South by Southwest festival, held this year from Friday March 10th to Sunday March 19th.


South by Southwest Festival (aka SXSW) is held annually and is the largest music festival of its kind in the world. Performers range from newbies with buzz to established legends. Artists are frequently discovered here and can later be signed to major labels. Artists who broke out after their SXSW performances include M.I.A., Janelle Monáe, Grimes, John Mayer, and The Strokes. The festival also hosts artists as keynote speakers; some of them include Dolly Parton, Lady Gaga, and Willie Nelson. SXSW also has a film festival and a tech festival that run at the same time.


With so many musicians descending onto Austin from all corners of the world aiming to entertain the over 160,000 attendees, it takes a lot of coordination behind the scenes – including immigration coordination!


Luckily McEntee Law Group knows music, immigration, and music immigration! Not only are we located in 2112, a music/tech/film incubator associated with Fort Knox Studios in Chicago, but we have plenty of experience preparing visa petitions for musicians and their crew, as well as other folks in the industry.


In fact, we recently successfully obtained an O-1 visa for Pixie Weyand, who you might see at SXSW. Pixie is Australian and is a creative thought leader at the forefront of the music industry!


In the past, we’ve also successfully worked with many legendary bands and artists including Glen Hansard, The Coronas, The Darkness, to name but a few. Who knows… your favorite band may be next.


It’s important to note that some performers playing at SXSW may not need a visa. Professional musicians may be able to fall under the so-called “Showcase Exception”. This would allow them to enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program (known as ESTA) or a B visa to perform without compensation at music industry showcases. The idea is that musicians playing a SXSW showcase isn’t labor, but a demonstration of skills that include things like composition, practice, and performance. This means that a group playing an official SXSW related show is displaying their talent and inviting future bookings, a showcase, as opposed to a paid gig. Note that traveling under this Showcase Exception is very limited and to use this, musicians can only play official SXSW gigs.


We know live music is one of the things we missed most while locked inside during the pandemic, and now that restrictions are lifted, we can’t wait to get out there and see a show. With over 300 artists and performers from across the globe, SXSW is the perfect opportunity to dive back into the scene and see the next big thing. We’re particularly interested in Balming Tiger, an alternative rap group from South Korea, Irish folk metal group, The Scratch, and electronic music pioneers, New Order from Manchester, England. If you see us there, say hi!



Written by: Hilary Hatton, Law Clerk at McEntee Law Group 

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