If you are looking to get in free to an event that starts in a few hours, stop reading this article. However, if you are a music fan who wants to put in the effort to contribute to the scene in a way that allows you to skip ticket prices on all the shows you go to, then this is the article for you. From working in the music industry for the past three years, here is some advice on how to see your favorite artists, without being a huge DJ or begging the guy at the door. You don't have to have high status, and no - you do not have to be female. You just have to have a passion for events and music, and be creative!
If you are new to the music scene, want to get experience working events, or simply seeking an easier way to snag tickets, volunteering is a great way to earn festival passes. The cool thing about volunteering is that even large events like Lightning in a Bottle and Electric Daisy Carnival need volunteers to help run the events, and you don't need any special talents or experience. Just apply online in advance (they usually have a volunteer form), and be willing to give up one day of the festival to help out. Most festivals require a deposit however, in case you show up and "get lost" partying. However, volunteering one day gives you a fatter wallet for food / lodging / festival supplies and you still get to see your favorite acts perform!
If becoming a full-time event promoter is not your thing, you can still earn free tickets by getting a group discount. Most promoters earn a free ticket for every ten tickets they sell (exact number varies by the company) and they will shoot you an extra if you buy for all your friends. If not, approach the event company directly to buy / sell tickets for a specific event. For example, there may be a specific show that you know your friends are going to, like Life in Color: World's Largest Paint Party. By selling tickets for this one event, you can earn your own comped pass, and maybe make some extra commission!
Do you write tons of emails, proposals, or other assignments at your job? Would you rather write about music and upcoming events? Don't psyche yourself out - you don't have to perfect a manuscript in order to gain media passes to shows. Event companies need press and favorable publicity in order to call attention to their events. By writing festival previews and reviews, these promoters will issue media passes in exchange for your coverage. How do you get started? Approach a music blog that has a decent following, and let them know you attend many events. The opportunity will almost always be unpaid, but getting involved in the scene and never paying for shows makes the writing worth it. Plus, your editor can clean up any imperfections in your prose and send you writing assignments, like the chance to interview artists.
Just as bloggers earn media passes in exchange for their writing, you can earn photo passes by taking pictures at events. Experienced photographers can actually get paid well to take official event photos, but if you are reading this article, you probably don't have that expertise yet. However, you can still get a free ticket without being a pro photographer - just get involved with a music blog or other publication that needs pictures, and apply for photo passes on the event website. The event producers base their picks mainly on how much traffic the blog gets, so reach out to popular websites. Pair up with a writer friend and you two can attend events as a team!
Another long-term way to start attending free shows is by selling your craft at events, or helping out a friend with their business. If anyone you know runs a company involved in the music scene, such as clothing, jewelry, crystals, or even apps and online websites, they may need people to represent their brand and make sales at events. If you have your own craft - even better! Either way, apply online at the event website for a Vendor Pass and you can earn media passes while making money and spreading the word about your business. Vending is also a great networking opportunity, and you might meet some friends who are navigating the industry just like you.
Let us know in the comments - and being a bottle rat doesn't count!
Photos by Bobby Reyes