In 2009, Kevin McStravick scoured the streets of South By Southwest without a clue. This year, he might be the most informed person at the festival.
McStravick has been reviewing every single band on the SXSW lineup for his website, Operation Every Band, since 2011. This year, that number hit 2,061.
As its name suggests, Operation Every Band reviews every band, labeling each with a popularity index based on Youtube views to gauge how crowded each show will be.
His team also compiles playlists of recommended music and creates a suggested hourly schedule for the five days of music. The “grid,” emailed to customers who donate $10, helps festival goers navigate the hundreds of show options available at any given time.
“I’ve always been the person who recommended bands to friends,” McStravick said. “That’s been forever, and this is a natural transition to recommending to more friends.”
McStravick and his co-founder Nate Headden co-write the website's content beginning in October, when the first round of bands is released. McStravick writes about 85 percent of the reviews.
“We would probably be listening to this music even if no one was reading [the website,]” Headden said. “In a lot of ways, we are doing it for ourselves.”
McStravick and Headden’s wives, Alison and Amelia respectively, also help with the project. Alison, a professional photographer, takes photos for the website and Amelia deals with all creative aspects like the website’s design and logo.
“It’s a family affair,” McStravick said.
40,000 people follow the website on Tumblr. McStravick said the website is beneficial to attendees, who often need guidance when navigating SXSW, as well as the bands, who benefit from the exposure.
“If we can be small part of someone else picking up [a band], and who knows, getting a tour or the right connections, that’s hugely rewarding,” McStravick said.
Correction: The creator of Operation Every Band is Kevin McStravick, not Kevin McStravnick.