Journalism Tips: 5 Unique Way To Cover Vans Warped Tour 2015

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This Friday, June 19, marks the official start of Vans Warped Tour 2015. There are more than 50 artists performing over the course of the tour’s near two-month run, and based on what we’ve seen online it appears many of our followers have already been received press credentials for whatever date is closest to them. If that applies to you, congrats! Covering Warped Tour is a fun and essential part of developing as a young music writer, especially if you have any interest at all in one day working in/with alternative music.

Whether it’s your first time covering Warped Tour or your eleventh it can be hard to know just what to highlight in your future blog coverage. I know your basic instincts will tell you to go for your favorite bands, as well as the headliners that will no doubt perform for thousands every day, but if you really want to make the most of your time at Vans Warped Tour 2015 we here at Haulix have a few suggestions that will not only challenge you, but also expand the type of coverage you’re able to offer readers. I know stepping outside your comfort zone can be scary, especially when trying to build a career, but if there was ever a place to take chances and really express yourself it’s while covering the world’s largest traveling music festival.

Warped Tour Now Has a Comedy Stage!

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For the first time in its history, Warped Tour is adding a comedy tent to its numerous stages and attractions. This years festival will see Beth Stelling, Chase Bernstein, Dave Ross, Eli Olsberg, Eric Schwartz, Grant Cotter, Sammy Obeid, and Sandy Danto joining the mix of over 100 bands already on the bill. Some may think the combination of music and comedy in a setting like this is strange, but festivals like Bonnaroo and Sasquatch have long-proven the opposite to be true. Comedians, like musicians, grind it out every day to chase their dreams of entertaining crowds of all sizes for a living. The performers on this year’s stage may not all be household names yet, but that could change overnight, and just like the musicians on tour your coverage could help them take their career to the next level. Plus, highlighting this part of Warped encourages Kevin Lyman to bring it back next year, and to be perfectly honest we really want that to happen. So please, help us out!

Did you know you can basically go to school at Warped Tour?

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The Entertainment Institute (TEI) is a music education platform that gives people access to musicians and professionals currently working in the industry through customized workshops, both online and in person. During Warped Tour, TEI offers one-on-one classes with Warped Tour artists and staff on a variety of courses, including Entrepreneurship with Fronz from Attila, Vocal Technique with Bradley Walden of Emarosa, and even YouTube 101 with online personality Bryan Starz, all for the low price of $25 per session. For coverage purposes, you could attend a class and report on your experience, or you seek out those who attend a variety of course and highlight a variety of experiences to help future attendees better decide which, if any, classes may be right for them. There are probably a dozen other ways to tackle this part of the tour, but those two should at least get you started. Be creative!

You Can Never Have Enough Feedback From Parents

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Warped Tour implemented a pretty cool policy a couple months back in order to encourage more people to bring their young teens to the festival that grants parents free admission. This was a move taken years after the tour implemented a reverse daycare for parents, which features shaded areas, seating, air conditioning, and a variety of other amenities to allow for a small escape from the noise and chaos of the Warped grounds. Most people know all of this exists, but every year only a few outlets have the idea to ask parents about their experience at the festival. This could be done in a very direct fashion or in a fun and creative way, like having parents list the bands they saw, or even challenging them to review certain bands on the tour. Finding adults willing to participate may be a challenge if your date is fast-approaching, but people with weeks left to plan may want to get an early jump on this if its something that interests them. If you need help winning over parents, we encourage offering them money or your services to perform any chores they may need handled.

Nonprofits May Be More Important Than Ever This Year

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With all the talk of sexual assault and the allegations made against several Warped Tour performers new and old in the last six months, it’s not hard to understand why Kevin Lyman has made a public statement regarding his efforts to extend an invitation to organizations that focus on sexual abuse, cyberbullying, predator awareness and teen suicide to encourage them to come out to Warped Tour this summer. This is one of many moves the festival is making to try and ensure the safety and well being of all attendees, so it should be a no brainer that those who do participate deserve a bit of your time. This issue has become bigger and bigger in recent months, and the people representing the organizations trying to inform people about these awful things, as well as help these who have been preyed upon, need all the aide they can receive to bring their existence to the attention of young people who think Warped Tour is only about the bands on stage. Your coverage of these groups, or any of the groups on tour (To Write Love On Her Arms, for example) could literally save lives. That isn’t something you can typically claim about artist interviews, especially those captured in a festival setting. Think beyond clickbait and try doing something good for others. Trust us. It feels good.

Offer Readers The One Thing No One Else Can: Your Experience

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While I would never encourage anyone to forgo interviews completely, I’ve often found the most compelling content created around Warped Tour are the firsthand accounts of writers on the ground at various dates. The play-by-play to someone’s day at festival filled with over 10,000 attendees, 50 bands, half a dozen comedians, numerous nonprofits, food vendors, and more is the kind of unique content no other site can replicate. By sharing your perspective you’re able to offer exclusive insight on the tour, as well as better engage with your readers in an authentic way. This isn’t you speaking on the tour through a structure discussion with an artist who is doing 5-20 interviews a day, but rather your thoughts, feelings, and experiences as expressed by you in the written word. There may be no better way of connecting with readers than through material like that, but in order to make it great you have to be completely honest with your audience. Be bold. Take chances. Say what you really feel and, with a little luck, people will connect with it and encourage you to share more.

James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.