South By Southwest?

I am thinking of going to the festival in 2016, as part of a road trip from the UK. I have looked at the website and find it pretty confusing. Is it an event for civilians or for the industry? The site talks about buying expensive tickets to attend conferences, marketing lectures etc. I presume I wouldn't need that just to turn up and look for small venues, bars etc, to listen to some music and have a few beers, which is all I want. Do you pay to go to the small venues or do the artists manage on tips and CD sales? I presume there would be a number of acts each evening at the same site, I would be very happy to pay for that.

Sorry if this is all really basic stuff, but I am confused. Would you guys who have attended, recommend a trip? It sounds a lot of fun and a good way to look for new artists.
Thanks David
I live in Austin, where SxSW is held. It's my understanding you buy a wristband that allows access to the shows and I think you can upgrade (ie spend more) to get even more access. But I think the basic would give you ample opportunities to hear lots of music. The venues are mostly bars around town and you wouldn't need to rent a car--taxis, walking and the new Uber and Lyft services. Downside would be hotels--you might look at Air BnB for more reasonable choices. Weather can be fantastic or cold--flip of the coin that time of year. Good luck!
I'm not sure it is worth buying a wrist band for 'all access.' It gives you
priority but not a guarantee, for access to some of the bigger name shows,
but there is plenty of music available at venues for nothing. Basically,
Austin is invaded by 1/4 million hard-partying people, and if that's your
thing, you might enjoy it. I find it a little overwhelming, but I may be older
than you. Back in the day, it was a place where A&R people from labels
went to hear new bands (and sign them or not). Today, it is a giant branding
festival, with every corner and crevice of town rented out for kiosks, trucks
and 'outreach' by big data, food companies and gizmo makers looking for
eyeballs. Austin is actually more fun at times other than SX, because there
is a vibrant music, art and food scene there 365 days a year, but as long as
you are prepared for a slow motion riot of youth, lines, and a lot of noise to
filter out, you could have a good time (or not). The wrist bands also get you
into various symposia at the Convention Center, discussing everything from
how to market your band to the future of music. Some interesting stuff if
you are selective.
PS: other times to come: ACL Festival; Austin Record Convention (if you
are a vinyl enthusiast).
I have been to SXSW several times, but it was in the first few years of the concept.

It was a magical and wonderful adventure each time. With that being said, you couldn't pay me to go now.

SXSW has become a major commercialized zoo. I agree with Whart. It probably depends on your age and anxiety level.
A "badge" gets you into seminars and such and probably some shows which wristbands won't necessarily get you into. I enjoyed the seminars during my "badge" year, but that's me and it was about 25 years ago, somewhat different back then as has been previously noted.
A badge won't get you in to everything--I can't imagine what it took to see Prince at La Zona Rosa a few years back for instance. And then some things are accessible without even a wristband. I'm betting you could have an outstanding time with just the wristband. Any way you slice it there will be some regrets because of inability to get in or to be in two places at once.
Thanks guys, it sounds like it has become to big and commercial. That seems true of many succssful projects. I will rethink my plans