Getting A Photo/Press Pass For A Music Festival Is A Tough Process!

Written by | March 29, 2017 2:23 am | one response


What does it take to be selected for a press pass at a music festival? There is still a great part of mystery in the process for me. Sure, I understand that res/photo passes are highly coveted, I understand that high traffic websites are the first selected for big festivals like Coachella and the FYF fest, I understand that many festivals already have top notch and famous photographers and couldn’t care less about my small tiny minuscule contribution,… but why is it so hard to get a press/photo pass for medium to small festivals?

I was denied a press/photo pass for this new When We Were Young fest at the Observatory in Orange County, the lineup is great and full of popular artists (Morrissey, Descendents, Cage the Elephant, Fidlar,…) but it’s pricey (GA is $200 for the weekend) and it’s a new festival, so why wouldn’t they want more publicity? It’s happening in less than 2 weeks and it’s not sold out. There are still tickets available for a single day ($100), so it’s not as if the festival was a complete sold-out in advance success already, and it’s on April 8 and 9th, in just 10 days.

Furthermore, the last time the Observatory hosted a festival, the Beach Goth Festival, things didn’t go very well at many levels. First, parking was a nightmare: ‘The lack of easy transit or even helpful signage meant that fans either ponied up $30 to $50 for the few on-site parking spots available (they sold out early afternoon), doubled-back to the O.C. Fairgrounds and took a shuttle to the site or rolled the dice and parked at a nearby condo complex praying to not get towed,’ reported the LA Times… then the organization had many problems: ‘Once inside, almost everything but the main stage was, quite literally, impossible to see’, continued the LA Times, and I am only scratching the surface, I was not there but the whole thing was a disaster, it rained a lot and this ended in a lawsuit. You have to hope the organizers of this new WWWY festival have found a few solutions before hosting a festival in the same location.

I didn’t get one for WWWY but I will continue to apply for media/press/photo passes in the hope some of them will grace me with one. It has happened before and it will happen again.

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One Response to “Getting A Photo/Press Pass For A Music Festival Is A Tough Process!”

  1. Lil Mike

    I do not know how long you’ve been involved in rock music, particularly promotion, but the reasons photo passes are not doled out like candy are numerous. Photographers often annoy bands and fans alike, and if the camera person is obtrusive, and simply there for their own glory, they do little for the event organizers or attendees themselves. For a long time, particularly the pre-internet/cell phone era, almost no recording devices were allowed in venues except for reputable print media with high circulation magazines, and definitely no audio or video, unless officially sanctioned, such as a TV network affiliate or syndicated program. Almost all cameras were turned away routinely, even pocket Instamatics, as the image and rights to photograph bands were tightly controlled by the acts and their management. While everyone has a cellphone now, the festivals themselves don’t really need publicity after the event is over, so your photos on your website do nothing for a promoter risking tens of thousands of dollars upfront, after their event has ended. The photos may of interest to fans or artists, but do little for an event promoter after the fact, however valuable they be to you to attract traffic to your webpage. Promoters need ample press and attention beforehand to sell tickets, not reviews afterwards. I came to your website after seeing a youtube link to some videos I saw you posted, and honestly, the sound was generally overloaded, and there was no editing whatsoever to highlight particular tracks or even an effort to name the songs I saw posted. I lost interest quickly in the haphazard clips I checked out, and I think a review of your youtube analytics stats might tell you how long people are viewing your uploads. If the “Average View Duration” numbers fall off dramatically after 30 seconds, you aren’t sustaining people’s attention, and this is probably due to somewhat poor quality of the video. These types of amateurish uploads do little to pique public curiosity in an artist, help the artist or their label promote an album, or even represent them in a manner they might be grateful for. If you want to be involved in music festivals, work with promoters or artists directly to help publicize their events, or volunteer onsite, perhaps even securing a valuable role for yourself. There is always much to do for big events, and if you are short the cash it takes to buy your way in, then offer to pay your freight via work exchange. Complaining publicly from your website about the failures of venues and promoters taking financial risks to organize large scale and expensive events won’t help endear you to those you seek approval from much… I do wish you good luck with your venture, but wanted to explain some of the underlying principles I see in event organizing, artist relations and promotion.


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