• Sean Whitmore

4 ways to get into shooting for or at music festivals and big events.

The festival and event coverage space is very very saturated. Everyone who owns a camera is looking to get in and shoot the biggest artists and trying to be the next claim to fame on instagram. I have been shooting events for 7 years now and to be honest not all of them glamorous. In total transparency there have been a few birthday parties, quince's and bat mitzvah's. Hey, no shame in the game though when it comes to learning and making money to supply your dreams.

The goal of this blog is to shed light on some resources that you should be aiming at and talking to get your name out their further to work your way up to the top of the event spectrum. The event space is a tiered approach from club scene, to smaller corporate events all the way up to mid-tier symposiums, to panels, to brand activations, and so forth. With hard work, a solid network, and willingness to shoot for free you can get there.

Person One | The Promotion Company

There are a TON of promotion companies out there that need content to support their marketing needs. The problem that I have seen first hand and heard through various conversation however is that videographers and photographers get absorbed into the aspect of the artist and get tunnel vision into shooting just the artist and not the fan experience. Granted some artists are huge and I personally am huge fans of them so it is rather easy to get sucked into. Remember the promotion company like the Live Nation's, C3 Presents, Crowdsurf Concerts, Real Music Events, Disco Donnie Presents, etc are all looking to make money in this space and you are hired labor to help create impactful visuals to drive sales and create the mindfulness of the brand. I have listed some key aspects to aim for when shooting various events for this kind of client.

  1. 60% Fan Experience

  2. 20% Artist

  3. 10% Vendor Activations (If needed)

  4. 10% Establishing Event Grounds/ Event Footprint.

Knowing who your client is trying to sell to will greatly appreciate your perceived value as a business minded photographer/ videographer and presents the client with a well roundedness that a lot of people gear towards. If you can accommodate their needs with minimal oversight that is a sure fire way to gain their confidence and get back in action for more events!

This is your best bet for a maximized budget depending on what kind of event you are filming. Offer them legit value for your services and refer to my blog on selling to help structure your deal to get the most out of your time. Why cause it's valuable!

Shot for C3 Presents & Live Nation | Camp Nowhere

Person Two | The Artist

Shot for Illenium for his run through Texas.

Shooting for artists is a lot of fun and really creatively fulfilling. You get to collaborate with them on a level that gives you freedom in your work to create superior visuals without the restraint for approval of an over arching entity like a promotion company, agency, or sponsor. With this however your content has to be top notch and very engaging as you are representing them and selling/influencing their vision of music and fan experience to the person buying the ticket to see them.

While many artists don't have huge budgets to spend on production crews they do spend money on a solo videographer that knows how to craft a story. I have listed a couple ways to maximize your time and value when working with an artists.

  1. Tour with the artist.

  2. Shoot the event the artist was at and sell the raw footage or offer to make more social ads for them.

  3. Network and do recaps for all of the artists that you can at the event.

Person Three | The Agency

Sometimes marketing agencies will take on festival/ events brands and do their marketing for them. Turns out in order to market you need material to market with! Tada! That is where you come into play. I have done this a couple times but the most notable one was with The White Unicorn Agency in Dallas, Texas. We traveled to Calgary, Canada to shoot Chasing Summer Music Festival. I was very young and would have done things a lot differently but was a great learning experience. Agency work is great to get into as a steady supply of work load however there are some draw backs as you are acting as the operator and only being paid for your labor instead of holding the keys to client per say. Meaning you don't get as much of the profit. BUT! You do get some awesome experience that you might not of normally had. Attached below is a daily edit done for Chasing Summer Music Festival in 2016.

Person Four | The Sponsor | Vendor | Publications

Festivals and events acquire entities known as vendors or sponsors to help offset some cost associated with throwing it. In simplistic terms the vendors or sponsors of the event give value in the form of resource, time or money in return for a footprint among other things at the event. Usually these entities love having content shot for them that shows the event, their brand and the people repping their brand at the festival. This option presents usually a more sizable budget that fits above shooting for an artist and underneath providing direct support for the festival/ event. These brands are always looking for social content creation and if you can give them an outlet for coverage you could be setting yourself up nicely for repeat work as they are usually traveling to different locations and events. For example, when I was with Arcpoint Studios we shot for Rockstar Energy at Ubbi Dubbi in Fort Worth. This was a great connect as they are always doing events and promotional work. Check out the video below.

Publications are another resource as well that usually have connections into the event world as they are usually creating content to write about. While this is the less traditional way into the realm of festivals but it is a viable one and with the right connections you can utilize the network to get into the other scope of people/ work. These resources are usually only allowed pit access but nonetheless some of my best photography and video has come from there. I would suggest reaching out to online forums, blogs, and news outlets to get press passes.

There ya have it! Four people to think about getting in contact with if you want into that next big festival or event! The key to all of this is networking, hustling, and creating content that engages with the target audience. Remember these events are trying to build a brand to sell and you are their visualization tool! Shoot smart and shoot often. Hope this helps! :)

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