How it began
As someone who started from scratch, gaining access to music industry coverage in one way or another is not out of reach. Similar to anything else worth pursuing, gaining possible admittance to any show of choice nearly every night takes simple persistence.
Through photography, I’ve acquired nearly 50 concert passes in the last year.
I found my love for live music and photographing it after snapping a few unimpressive visuals with my recently bought entry level Canon at a local music festival. I considered this my portfolio. Although amateur, these photos were the beginning of everything I’ve experienced today.
During my transition to Milwaukee living, I was eager to attempt access into the city’s flourishing concert scene through the Pabst, Riverside, Turner Hall and mainly the Rave. This aspiration was met with complete disappointment. I still remember naively calling the Rave and asking how photo passes work; I was met with the “media outlet” response.
Contrary to popular venue belief, you do not need any media outlet affiliation to get in.
Building on Previous Work
I began blindly contacting managers (and even artists on Facebook messenger) in hopes to catch their attention. I targeted the Miramar Theatre as my starting point. The Miramar offered small enough acts to keep access hopes realistic, but also offered the most energetic, tight knit crowds hosting the best EDM shows in Milwaukee. To my surprise, offering them free photos for access (after displaying previous work from the local music festival) actually worked.
Out of the first 10 or more managers contacted, I received 1 yes.
1 yes and a couple additional photos from that show is all it takes to build an increasingly valid portfolio. Each week I continued to contact every artist manager coming through the Miramar. After building on previous work, 1 yes turned into 2, 2 turned into 4 and soon, I was photographing smaller shows nearly every weekend. I also held a portfolio filled with multiple unique artists, which is more appealing than a portfolio built on a single music festival.
The most important part of this process was to understand that photo coverage is equally valuable as a spot on an artist’s guest list.
How Small Turned to Big: MilwaukeePitPass.com
After realizing I could regularly get passes into the Miramar, I decided to target other Milwaukee venues and eventually worked my way into the Rave multiple times through repetition of the same process. Although contributing photos to a band’s tour documents is satisfying, there comes a point where building a personal portfolio loses it’s satisfaction value, and only takes one so far.
The focus from merely getting access to concerts shifted to documenting Milwaukee’s rich music scene through the formation of the city’s first online concert magazine: Milwaukee Pit Pass.
After the formation of an actual media outlet set out to specifically highlight all concerts in Milwaukee, photo passes and credentials are no longer a struggle. Instead, it provides the humbling choices of whether I want to photograph Good Charlotte at the Rave or Kansas at the Pabst, after taking into consideration the fact I photographed Yellowcard’s farewell show at the Rave the night before. It has provided opportunities to cover Art Garfunkel, Jimmy Eat World or Panic! at the Disco. It has given life to ideas that were previously empty aspirations.
The main goal of Milwaukee Pit Pass is to highlight any and all notable music acts to reflect the value of our city’s venues and musical potential to all that are interested, ill-informed or oblivious to its value.
Written by Bennett Young
P.S. Milwaukee Pit Pass also accepts contributors and has a growing team. All passes are provided through us. Check out our application on the contributor page.