General FAQ

These are General FAQs about volunteering at SXSW. You can also view the All-Conference FAQs or Music Festival FAQs for more information.

NOTE: For the purposes of SXSW, the abbreviation "ACC" stands for "Austin Convention Center" and NOT "Austin Community College."

How do I register to volunteer?

Visit the Register page to learn more about the Volunteer Calls and registration process or click here for more information about how to apply as an Out of Town Volunteer.

What is the Volunteer Call?

The 2016 SXSW Volunteer Calls will be held at the Austin Convention Center (500 E Caesar Chavez) on Sunday, January 24, 3:00PM - 5:00PM, and Saturday, February 6, 3:00PM - 6:00PM. The third and final Volunteer Call will be held at the Omni Austin Hotel Southpark, (4140 Governors Row) on Saturday, February 13, 2016 from 3pm to 5pm.

During this time, you will check in, watch a brief introductory video and select your crews.

All-Conference Volunteers may sign-up for no more than 2 All-Conference Crews, and will typically start building their schedule at the calls. Music Festival Volunteers will have an opportunity to talk with the SXSW Staff and Crew Chiefs, and sign-up for ONE crew.

All local volunteers wishing to volunteer for SXSWedu or SXSW, new and returning, must attend a volunteer call in order to complete the registration process. If you are unable to attend one of the calls, or if the volunteer calls have already passed, you will need to contact a volunteer coordinator for more information.

NOTE: Many crews will fill up very quickly. We encourage you to attend the first volunteer call (Sunday, January 24, 3:00PM - 5:00PM) to have a wider selection of crews and schedule.

Click here to learn more about the volunteer calls and the registration process.

Why do I need to fill out a new registration this year?

In 2012, we introduced a new volunteer database system and have done away with our old system. We are starting fresh to make sure we have the most up to date information for our volunteers. We will be double-checking records from the old database for any history that we may need to transfer over. If you've use the Shiftboard system already, use your the same email you used to create your original record. Your updated reregistration information will be merged with your existing record. If this is your first year using Shiftboard, create a new record.

I'm a returning SXSW Volunteer. Do I need to go to a volunteer call?

YES, if you are local. This is how you will build your schedule. OOT Volunteers will receive their information via email. If you are not able to attend one of the volunteer calls, or have questions, please contact a volunteer coordinator.

Visit the Register Page to learn more about the volunteer calls and the registration process.

I'm a returning "Production" Volunteer, but now my crew is listed as an All-Conference Crew. What happened?

We've made some changes to our crew structure to streamline and simplify the volunteer process. Your crew will operate the same, but may have different perks and hours requirements based on the structure.

Is there a minimum age requirement to volunteer?

All-Conference Volunteers must be at least 16 years years of age in order to volunteer. Those volunteers under the age of 18 must have consent from a parent or legal guardian to volunteer for SXSW.

Most Music Festival Volunteers must be age 21+. The only Music Festival Crew that accepts volunteers under the age of 21 is Outdoor Stage.

If I volunteer, do I get to go see shows for free?

The perks you earn as a SXSW Volunteer will allow you free admission into most events associated with your perk. However, our volunteers are expected to put in a lot of time during the event. You may not get to see everything you want. We depend on all volunteers to show up on time and be ready to work for all their scheduled shifts. We don't take kindly to no-shows, aka "flakes."

If you're the type who wants to see it all and do it all during SXSWedu and SXSWeek, we strongly recommend that you buy a badge.

What kind of perks can I earn?

SXSW Volunteers can earn a variety of perks depending on the number of hours or shifts that are worked on either a All-Conference or Music Festival Crew. Visit the Perks page for more information on each perk.

Can I work all of my volunteer hours prior to the event?

No. Volunteer work prior to the event is minimal, and reserved for returning volunteers only. Volunteers working toward a SXSWedu Badge must work half their hours during SXSWedu. The volunteer's remaining schedule can be worked during SXSW. Returning SXSW volunteers may be able to work a portion of their schedule during SXSWedu while earning a Volunteer Gold, Music or Platinum Badge. Crews have limited hours during SXSWedu and cannot guarantee hours for those not earning SXSWedu Badge.

I don't care about earning a perk. Can I just volunteer for a few hours?

Sorry, but no. All volunteers must work a minimum number of hours. The size and scope of this event requires appropriate training for all involved. The crews can only run smoothly when the volunteers have been oriented in advance, and have committed a minimum amount of time to particular crews.

What is the difference between an All-Conference Volunteer and a Music Festival Volunteer?

All-Conference Volunteers may work on up to 2 of the 40+ All-Conference Crews that operate throughout SXSWedu and the 10 days of SXSW. All-Conference Volunteers can accumulate hours to earn a perk to attend SXSWedu or SXSW events.

Click here for more All-Conference Volunteer information.

Music Festival Volunteers work on only one crew. They work a minimum number of hours on one crew in order to earn either a Volunteer Music or Platinum badge. Music Festival Volunteers are not eligible for the Volunteer Gold Badge.

Click here for more Music Festival Volunteer information.

Can I work on both an All-Conference Crew AND a Music Festival Crew?

No, sorry. You must choose one or the other.

Can I earn a SXSW perk AND a SXSWedu Badge?

Yes, but you must work the required hours independently of each other. Please contact a volunteer coordinator for assistance.

I don't live in Austin. Can I still volunteer for SXSW?

Yes, we accept of Out-Of-Town (OOT) Volunteers. OOT Volunteers are not expected to attend the Volunteer Call. However, volunteers must follow the OOT Volunteer registration process to be eligible to volunteer.

OOT Volunteers are responsible for all of their own travel and lodging arrangements and must arrive in Austin with enough time to check-in at Volunteer Central and get to their first shift on time.

More information for OOT Volunteers can be found here.

What mandatory meetings do I have to attend?

All-Conference Volunteers are required to attend one mandatory pre-event meeting on February 27, 2016.

Music Festival Volunteers are required to attend 2 mandatory pre-event meetings, the Music Festival Meeting (Optional for Out of Town Volunteers) and usually a walk-thru of their designated venue or work area.

What good is having the badge if I'm going to be working the whole time?

If you want to volunteer for SXSW, you should know that you will not get to see everything you want. Your priority will be volunteering for the event, not attending it. However, volunteering IS fun and you will enjoy your perk when not working a volunteer shift.