The Internet is a really great thing. I think it’s safe to say all of us here know that. I mean, look how much FREE stuff it’s gotten you over the years. From your dorm room days of downloading old Metallica albums one track at a time on Napster to some free booze around the city now and then, is there nothing the Internet can’t get for you?
Well, I figured out a long time ago that although it could get me free music and cheap drinks before a show the Internet, fickle mistress that she is, couldn’t actually get me in to a show or concert. In fact, usually the Internet is a terrible marketplace where even face-value tickets carry $10 convenience fees and Craigslist, the go-to secondary market for all things cheap, is a mess of scalpers and people who are just trying to make a buck off of Pitchfork’s Best New Music list. But all that was before I discovered my inner William Miller and that he knew how to score free tickets.
Let me get something straight, I kind of hate music writers. I mean I like to hear about what people like, but the fluffy descriptions of some new band’s prominent use of a Playskool tape recorder on their latest record do nothing to tell me about the band’s sound. And the endless comparisons to earlier bands that I’ve never heard of feel like underhanded attempts by the writer to give me an inferiority complex. So the natural thing to do is to set out on your own! Start that music blog that you write in your head every time you listen to a new record. Write down what you would tell your friend if he asked you what you thought of a new band or album or song or whatever. It doesn’t even have to be the newest or the hippest, just write about what you like or you’ll find yourself trying to hard and there are already a ton of bloggers out there who beat you too it. Remember: the goal here is free tickets, not an immensely popular website (although that would be nice).
The next step, once you’ve got like…I dunno three posts or so up on your site (which probably still has the default theme for your blogging platform of choice) is to start emailing PR reps. PR reps for small-to-mid-level bands are some of the friendliest people on the Internet. And by friendliest, I mean they’ll never stop sending you emails once you get on their mailing list. This is OK if you’re a bit obsessive about music anyway because oftentimes you’ll find out about bands that are coming to town before the venues even announce it. On the flipside, PR reps love to sound super excited about every band they represent even if you think the band is total crap, so you’ll have to do some filtering to find the good stuff.
Once you see a show announcement for a band you like, then start emailing them back. Ask nicely for a press pass to a show and tell them you’d like to “provide some coverage” or “hype up this band” or drop some other buzzwords that make you sound like you know what you’re doing. I’m 99% sure most (surely not all) PR reps don’t actually read the sites that request press passes to events and they certainly don’t have the time to go looking up how much traffic you get so they won’t notice if you’re mom and your old college roommate are the only people reading the site. Also, it’s always a good idea to request a +1 so you don’t have to go to the show alone. Or you can disguise this by requesting a Photo Pass and bringing your friend who is a “photographer” along. (Borrow someone’s fancy DSLR for added authenticity.)
And that’s pretty much it! You’re already on the list so go enjoy the show. Although it is a good idea to actually write a review or even just a wrap-up of your impressions from the show in the days after. Send a link for your review along to the PR rep who put you on the list so they’ll start to think you’re legit. And if nothing else at least you can use the “I’m a music blogger” line to pick up members of the opposite sex.