A really popular question from aspiring music photographers is "How do I get a photo pass?" or "Why can't I get a photo pass?"
Well, I'll tell you how I do it, and maybe it'll help you.
First of all, I work for a publication. That always helps because it gives the band an incentive to let you shoot the show.
I get contact information from the band's facebook or website. If it's not listed my boss can look it up for me on Celebrity Access, which typically provides the band's management contact. The publicist is the person you need, so you can email the manager and ask that your request be forwarded to the band's publicist.
**Note that kindness is key. ALWAYS say "please" and "thank you" when requesting credentials. It doesn't matter how many shows you've covered or how many big names you've shot. I've been on the other side and let me tell you, it's so much more pleasant when you're dealing with a photographer that seems very appreciative; it also makes you want to try a little harder to help get them access to the show. Don't be cocky or rude, even if the publicist seems to be that way. You'll want to be on their good side for the future.
Send your request a couple weeks out or so. Make sure you include your name, publication, link(s) to your work, and of course the date and venue of the show. If they don't get back to you within the next week or so, send a polite follow-up email. Most of the time you won't get confirmation until only a couple days before the show.
For example, I've dealt with a publicist who always responds to my initial request saying "Thanks for your request. I will let you know closer to the date if we can accommodate." And her definition of "closer to the date" is the MORNING OF. If I follow up with her the day before, though, she'll usually confirm with me then. She's never rejected me for anything, but the lateness is a bit irritating.
Once you get confirmed you'll be put on the guest list at the box office window. Occasionally a ticket might be mailed to you.
But it doesn't stop there; after the show make sure to post your coverage in a timely manner (ideally 24-48 hours) and forward the link to the publicist. If you're unable to do that and you think it'll take at least a week, make sure you let the publicist know. They may not even care, but it's just common courtesy.
And that wraps up the process.
As you keep shooting shows (and especially once you start covering festivals like Warped Tour) you'll start getting added to publicists' email lists. I get at least 20 press releases per day in my inbox. I definitely don't have time to look through all of them, but if I get a press release about a show I'd like to attend it's nice to be able to just respond to that email, instead of having to send a "cold call" type of email.
**Tip: when the band comes back to town and you want to shoot their show again, "reply" to your last email correspondence with their publicist and just change the subject to the current show date you're requesting. That way, if they don't remember you, they'll be able to see what you've done for them in the past.
If you have further questions feel free to comment or email me at AmberStokosaPhotography@gmail.com.