I would have to consider this year's SXSW a success.  Despite early set backs and odd little mishaps..we got to see some absolutely spectacular shows.

We really had no clue what to expect this year as we were using wristbands to get into shows and not badges.  We saw absolutely no indication that the badge was needed. If you wanted to attend the conference interviews and discussions then the badge would be required but otherwise, wristband is the way to go.    The wristband got us into everything.  In fact over 70% of the shows we did get into even a wristband is not necessary.  We RSVP'd for a 100 different parties and we're only asked once for our confirmation.   SXSW can be done by anyone.  So many great parties like the Aussie parties, Paste Magazine parties, Music For Listeners at Lazarus Brewing and even British Music Embassy day parties all allow anyone to enter...no badges needed.  Add to that the great events put on by Hotel San Jose and Waterloo records, Yeti and multiple radio stages, you really have alot of choices.
The official night showcases are a bit different and for many of them the general public can get in but you would have to pay $10-20.  Wristband folks get in if you show up at a reasonable time but if it's a popular event, you may run the risk of being shut out because badges would get preference at the door.
Overall it wasn't a concern for us.
SXSW is nowhere as big as it used to be.   Covid has taken its toll on the business and obviously the decision to take on The Army as a main sponsor would play a role this year with about 5% of the bands boycotting official shows.  The amount of bars participating seemed lower and the big shows were fewer.
But if you wanted to see new bands, it still offers more then enough to keep you going for five days and nights
Austin is not getting any cheaper.  We had to stay in multiple hotels to try to reduce costs.  The problem is that the start of the music portion of the festival crosses over with the end of the film/Education/interactive portion of the festival so the city is packed and the hotels are booked solid...to get a room you pay a premium. That also meant the city and showcases got quieter as the week went on, which meant showcases on Friday and Saturday were not too busy.
We have found that booking into hotels that do not require paying upfront ideal as the cost of the rooms fluctuated and went down as you got closer to the festival so we rebooked a few times and saved a bundle. I won't even go into how much more a good beer and food costs during the festival but sometimes you just have to go for it...
The festival is not perfect but we were happy that we were still able to see as many bands as we wanted and spent significantly less then years past (on wristband vs badge) as well as paying less for hotels.  It will make the discussion as to whether to attend SXSW 2025 a little easier.
This year we stayed in Austin for a couple of extra days, as it turned out staying meant paying significantly less for the hotel and flight home so we're able to enjoy the city when it was quiet, eat at our favorite restaurant and walk the water bike/home paths. It really was a great way to end our trip.
We are very happy to have gone this year.  It was great to discover we could still do day and night shows.  We know our limits and won't push it in the future but it's much easier to make choices when you spend alot less on your access to the festival.
If anyone has any questions regarding the festival and what to expect, please pass them on! We will do our best.
Jim & Sandra