The Blogger's Ultimate Guide To Covering A Music Festival As Press

This year, Quirky, Brown Love had the pleasure of covering both AfroPunk Brooklyn and Hopscotch Festival Raleigh and they were both absolutely epic.

If I could pinpoint one offline action that has helped Quirky, Brown Love grow as much as it has these almost two years, I would definitely give credit to attending music festivals as press. Doing so has allowed me to get interviews from celebrities that I only previously dreamed of meeting, as well as a lot of offline network for my brand.

Are you a blogger, new magazine editor or digital influencer that has been considering covering music festivals or other press events to grow your brand, but are not sure how to get started? If so, this article is perfect for you. I lay out every important detail to keep in mind when you are covering a festival.

1. Always Try To Get A Press Pass
If you are a digital influencer and can fit music festivals into your content naturally, definitely check to see if your favorite music festivals offer press passes. Make sure to check at least 3 months in advance, as press passes can be competitive to come by. Usually, there will be a short form that asks for your media links and topic of interest, so make sure you have a narrative for your story.
2. Hire An Extroverted & Professional Photographer
If you are able to afford a photographer with a wide-range DSLR camera, I would definitely say that it would be a good investment. Also, make sure that your photographer is extroverted. This is so important because they will most likely be competing with other photographers for space in the photo pit.

Also, music festivals are day long events, so you will come in contact with hundreds of people. As an introvert (or maybe ambivert), I get drained after being around people for more than an hour, so it was important for me to have someone on my team that gets energized from being around people. Plus, my photographer takes some amazing pictures.

Top to bottom: Erykah Badu, Junglepussy, Kelela, Suzi Analogue, Anderson .Paak and The Free Nationals

3. Contact Artist Media or PR Reps For Interviews
How cool would it be if you could have an interview with your favorite musician? Well, it's honestly not that hard. All artists have a media representative or public relations contact for interview requests, so it never hurts to ask. Where do you find this information? Randomly enough, I found all of my contacts on their Facebook fan pages. Seems to easy, but it worked!

Read Also: How To Start A Blog (And Run It Successfully): The Most Comprehensive Guide You Will Find

Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until two days before the festival; however, I was still able to land most of the interviews that I wanted. I definitely suggest reaching out at least a week in advance and let them know that you are press for the festival.

4. Stay At A Millennial-Driven Hotel
Long term readers of the site know that I travel often with Aloft Hotels because of the fact that their hotels cater to the millennial entrepreneur. Therefore, as soon as I found out that I was covering press for the Hopscotch Music Festival, I emailed to make my reservation at Aloft Raleigh. With my three night comped stay at the hotel, I knew that I was in good hands.

The modern boutique hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina is perfect for business travelers like yourself. Yes, music festivals are absolutely fun; however, you are on assignment as press and should therefore stay at a hotel that has been crafted to fit the needs of tech-savvy millennial travelers (even if you are not a millennial).
Aloft Raleigh- Book Now
Location: 2100 Hillsborough St. Raleigh, NC 27607
Within Walking Distance: North Carolina State University, Chipotle, in-house coffee shop and tacos and tequila restaurant, many cute shops and bars. 

As spiritual as this may sound, I'm a big believer that  energy and atmosphere play a big part into a person's creativity. Imagine trying to crank out your best ideas in a dark yet florescent light filled motel. That's just not going to happen. Staying at Aloft always puts me in good spirits and Aloft Raleigh was no different. 

The colorfully printed furniture, soft overhead lights and abundance of natural light kept me inspired to write and create all weekend long (this is why I also suggest Aloft for creative staycations). This location also had a second floor patio balcony that faces the university, so it was so relaxing to work in their modern-shaped chairs and face the prestigious architecture of the college buildings.

Takeaway: Choose a hotel that has an atmosphere that inspires you to be your best self.
While on assignment for a music festival, where you sleep is literally everything. If you have a hard time going to sleep and wake up groggy, it's going to have an affect on your productivity. 

Luckily, Aloft Raleigh has some of the most comfortable mattresses and pillows known to mankind. Both myself and my photographer stayed at the hotel and over breakfast, we both couldn't stop talking about how we slept like babies the night before! My room came with a large desk that would have been perfect for writing, editing photographs and scheduling my interviews; however, I could not be pried away from the bed other than when I absolutely had to leave for a set.

Takeaway: Make sure that you are able to get a good night of rest. With the hectic days ahead, you are going to need it!
Another important aspect about covering a music festival that I'm sure that you have thought about is dressing the part. 

Therefore, if you are traveling out of town for the festival, I'm sure that you have packed up all of the best clothes from your closet. I do the exact same thing, so no judgement! Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to finish washing and drying all of my clothes for the festival; however, I was so delighted to find out that Aloft Raleigh had a guest laundry center on every floor, along with a huge closet to hang up everything. 

I also had the opportunity to wash all of my clothes before I left so that I could focus on work instead of dirty laundry when I got home. Smart, right? It absolutely saved my trip!

Takeaway: Choose a hotel with guest laundry just in case something happens to your favorite outfit. Also, wash your clothes before you leave the hotel to save time with dirty laundry back at home.
While staying at Aloft, I learned about their Make A Green Choice program which is what makes me a dedicated fan of the hotel brand. Hotels that wash guest sheets every day are wrecking havoc on our ecosystem. Although it may seem small, by opting in to not have housekeeping come to my room everyday of my stay, I know that I am making a difference for future generations on this Earth. As even further incentive for guest participation, the hotel will give you a $5 voucher to the Re:fuel snack bar in their downstairs lobby or 250 Starpoints.

Takeaway: Choose a hotel that has a mission close to your heart. It'll make you feel better during your whole trip.
5. Know the lingo
A "set" is the same thing as a show or performance. So if a PR rep says to meet the artist before set, that means to show up with plenty of time to interview before they perform. Also if you want to tell an artist that you liked their performance, you could say something like, " your set was amazing" or "you just killed your set. Great job!"

A "phoner" is a short phone interview, usually lasting about 15 minutes. These are the two terms that you will hear the most when it comes to interviewing an artist.

6. Dress Like You Belong Backstage
Nothing is more embarrassing than having a security guard try to keep you from getting me, I've been there. What I've learned is that confidence is everything and one undeniable sign of confidence is someone who is interestingly dressed. Yes, interestingly. It will also make you stand out to the artists that you are interview. I wore a quirky lemon wheel purse and some cubed earrings as statement pieces to my outfits and got so much attention.
7. Have a Calendar App and Good Voice Recorder
If you were able to score some interviews, it will be important to keep up with them all. Realize that schedules change, whether it be for flight delays or sound checks, so make sure to have a calendar app to document any changes.

Now that you've booked the interview and are backstage, it is time to get the content. Know, however, that there is going to be a lot of background noise and you can't really ask the artist to step outside (the fans would absolutely swarm). If you have an iPhone, the recording app actually works very well. Make sure to test it out before it's showtime.
8. Connect With Other Media Outlets/Bloggers
As introverted as I can be, even I will admit that it is absolutely necessary to connect with other professionals in your field. Music festivals are a great time to do this. The best way I have found to do this is to see what other media outlets will also be covering as press by checking the festival's social media or by searching the hashtag (the latter has been most effective).

After you have your list of media and bloggers, you should invite them all for a short happy hour at a relaxing spot. After covering a music festival, the last thing any journalist is going to want to do is go to a crowded bar. This is where having a millennial driven hotel comes into play yet again.
I hosted my meet up at Aloft Raleigh since I was already staying there and it made for the perfect and most intimate networking event. Every Aloft hotel has a lounge area called the W XYZ bar. Because I wanted to make a good and lasting impression, I got the 'okay' from the hotel manager, made little goodie bags and bought everyone a round of drinks and sandwiches.

It may sound like a lot; however, it is really easy to plan an event when the venue speaks for itself. Everyone was so impressed by the interior aesthetic of the hotel. Also, the people that came to the event were all interesting people, including bloggers, magazine editors, stylists and small-business owners. 

Now that I've left a lasting impression on the invitees, if I reach out to them down the road, they will remember me and hopefully associate me with the colorful spirit that resonates in Aloft Raleigh.
If coffee houses are more of your thing than bars/lounges, you can also easily go to cute coffee shop Jubala, downstairs for a quieter affair. 

All Photography: Joshua Aurelius Galloway

*Thank you so much Aloft Raleigh for turning my business trip into an unforgettable weekend with my comped stay and your amazingly helpful staff!

What music festivals are you hoping to cover this year?

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About Us

Quirky, Brown Love is a media outlet for quirky, brown millennials. EST 2014.

Email Bryanda Law, Editor-in-Chief