How To Get Into Music Festivals For Free

Getting paid to be backstage at Rock on the Range 2010

Just because there’s a recession, it doesn’t mean you have to skimp on music festivals. You just have to get creative. There are plenty of ways to get into your favorite fest without digging into the wallet. Here are some tested methods from the staff at the Music Festival Junkies.

1.  Get a Job

Music festivals can transform a sleepy rural farm into a bustling city for up to a week. There’s no way locals can fill all the paying jobs. One year, I got into Bonnaroo by working at the Fuse Barn. I may have missed the daytime acts, but I was finished every night by six — more than enough time to catch plenty of bands.

Tips: Check Craigslist about a month before shows for help wanted ads. Your odds are increased if you live near the area (or at least pretend that you do). Competition is fierce for these paying positions.

2.  Work For Free, Hippie

Lots of festivals run on volunteer powered staffs. If you’re happy directing traffic for a few hours a day in exchange for a ticket, this is the job for you. These jobs disappear quicker than tickets for Glastonbury.

Tips: These positions fill up fast, so follow the official website/Twitter/Facebook announcements as close as you would watch the show.

You don’t get paid, but then again, you don’t work too hard

3.  Become a Rock God

Some of these concerts have roughly a billion bands playing and almost all the festivals highlight local talent. If they need a band, most festivals have an application process right on the website.

Tips: Start with applying to local festivals. And totally rock.

4.  Go to a Free Festival

The old maxim “you get what you paid for” usually doesn’t apply to free festivals. Check out this lineup from the Virgin Mobile FreeFest in Baltimore. And Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco. And the Siren Festival in New York City…

Tips: These can take some work to track down. That’s why you have us to dig them up for you.

5.  Gate Crasher

We don’t condone it, but we certainly can’t stop it. Gate crashing is a time honored art form that will probably land you a fine or in jail. If you must go the illegal route, at least check in with our friends at the aptly named Festival Crashers.

Tips: Get a big group. A couple of you will make it in. A couple won’t. A couple will probably get arrested.

I love you man

6.  Start a Festival Website

The coveted press pass. That’s how we get into most of shows. Write. Report. Photos. Almost every festival web site has information on how to apply for a media pass. And that’s all we have to say. We don’t need the competition.

Tips: Send us some clips. If we like you, you might find yourself hired onto MFJ.

Born during a sweaty, backstage, Bonnaroo downpour, the Chief Festival Junkie's mission in life is to dance, write, and travel to every great festival that this wide world has to offer. While his identity remains a mystery, you may have already met him, probably when he helped himself to your party favors.

1 Comment

  • June 19, 2013

    Adam Guthrie

    Hey guys and hello, i am very much so interested in traveling and hitting the best festivals around in my area which i reside in WV. Im 27 years old, music festy junkie, traveler, nursing major, and hipster, music is my life, who loves and lives life to the fullest and would love the amazing opportunity to try and break into the biz whether it would be writing, photos, or both. I am proficient with my writing skills, Micro Word, and id honestly would be both, analitical and critically critique bands, the subculture, and the scene if given an opportunity. I live in Fayetteville WV and am interested in ALL GOOD, Electric Forest, Floyd Fest this summer and Bear Creek in the fall. If you have any pointers or maybe are needing somebody to fill a gig or to graciously allow me to try out for this opportunity, you would not be disappointed and i would bust my Ass for your site to prove myself. Let me know if there is anything that i can do to get on MFJ family and Im in.. Oh and i also raft guide professionally on the new and gauley river here on some of the sickest whitewater in the country so if youd like to come and check it out id love to meet and take whomever down, on me of course!! Peace, light, and Festy lifestyle on! Thanks for your time.

    Adam Guthrie

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