An "application" is the way to be considered for a showcase performance slot at the SXSW Music Festival. A "registration" is the badge purchased by individuals to attend the various SXSW Music events (music conference panels, Artist Central, the SXSW Trade Show, music festival showcases, softball tournament/BBQ, and other special activities).
Band members do not need to purchase a registration badge to apply for a showcase. Domestic US artists who are offered a showcase can choose either a SXSW Artist Package or cash as payment for their showcase. All international acts receive the SXSW Artist Package. All applying artists, whether accepted to showcase or not, will be able to purchase registration badges at the lowest registration rate AFTER notification of status, if they choose to do so. There are no refunds (and no exceptions) if you purchase a registration at a higher rate or decide not to attend if you are not offered a showcase.