Re: South By Southwest Festival
I've been to the sxsw music festival and it's an absolute blast if you're going to just enjoy the music (as opposed to going for work purposes)!
If you're planning on going, you should start looking for a hotel now. But even then, it could be too late. The hotel rooms fill up incredibly fast in advance. If you can find a room, I would think you could find $200 a night, but it could be more like $250 in downtown. If you don't care about close proximity, then I think you could easily find something under $200 a little ways out. But you'll find it's not all that convenient.
I don't know how long you're planning on going by. Maybe the other parts of the festival are less crazy than the music one. Unfortunately, I don't know the answer to the film portion, as I haven't been.
Your best bet is to buy a wristband for the music festival. It's still pricey, but a much better deal than the badge. The only real value the badge has is the panels and the badges get let in first to the shows. This will matter for some shows, but not for most. As long as your close to the front of the line with a wristband, you're not likely to have any problems getting into shows. I've never gone without having a badge or a wristband. I think you could probably do it, but you'll probably have issues getting into some shows. Nearly every artist plays multiple shows and some play parties that you can RSVP to for free. Some of the best ones though are private/exclusive and you'll need to know someone to get guestlisted for.