Music festivals are prone to receiving a lot of flak for their ticket prices. Three years ago a standard ticket for both Rocking the Daisies and Oppikoppi was at least R200 cheaper than it is today. For those of us on a strict student budget with an extensive love for all things music, the trip to Darling or Limpopo can be difficult to swing. Fret not! There are a number of ways in which you can wrangle your way into a festival for free – provided you are willing to put your best foot forward in exchange.
1. Do Your Bit, Pick Up Your Shit. Sound familiar? These are the guys who parade around the camping grounds dressed in green and fronted by a comedian with a loudspeaker; they hand out dustbin bags and urge you to refrain from being a “tosser”. You’ll be required to do about two or three hourly shifts a day in return for a general ticket. Usually you’ll have to put down a deposit too which is returned to you at the end of the festival.
How to get involved: Trashback is a multi-national, volunteer-centric organization which revolves around environmental consciousness in general. They set up a number of depots around Rocking the Daisies where you can drop a bag of trash in exchange for a free shot of tequila – among other things. You can apply as a volunteer here (https://trashback.org/contact-us/)
2. This option was subsequently removed after the organisation did not wish to be featured in the article.
3. Be a journalist – in any form. Are you a blogger, photographer or videographer? Apply for a media pass. Even if you don’t contribute to a high profile publication, if you’re interesting and passionate enough the festival may still grant you a general ticket in exchange for some coverage of their event.
How to get involved: you will need to have a dab hand at writing or photographing, as well as currently contributing to a publication (be it a blog or magazine) as festivals don’t usually take on freelancers. Then you can apply for a press pass here or here.
4. Become a Jäger Girl/Guy. Or boy. This goes for pretty much any of the sponsors at the festival which usually include Jägermeister, Bos Ice Tea, Olmeca Tequila, and Sedgewicks – you name it. Besides, everyone loves the person with free stuff.
How to get involved: There are a few companies that specialise in promotion teams but we’d recommend Point Blank Promotions who provides promotional staff to a wide variety of brands – many of which in turn run campaigns for a number of other brands. You can apply to become a promoter here.
5. Bartend or man a stall. Granted this is one of the less enjoyable ways to get in: long hours on your feet with a restricted view from the confines of your respective tent, not to mention endless queues and drunken festival goers to contend with. On the bright side, you’ll most likely work in shifts and with just the right amount of luck you should be free to roam either day or night – depending on the flexibility of your stall.
How to get involved: Ensure you have a product to offer which will appeal to the target market at a festival – food, festival essentials and boho clothing usually do the trick – and then ensure you have what it takes to handle the business of a festival’s food or bar scene. You can then apply for a stall as a trader here.
6. Volunteer for the Festival. Interested in event organizing or simply seeing what it takes to put a festival together? Take the highly rewarding opportunity to apply as a volunteer for a festival. Not only will it give you some behind-the-scenes experience in the field, it also may give you the opportunity to meet and work with some of the biggest names in the industry – depending on the jobs you’re given.
How to get involved: Rocking the Daisies run a highly successful volunteer program – aimed at those with a love for all things music and festival orientated. Apply here.
7. Manual Labour. This ties in with the previous point – although you will have to be quite clear as to your preference when applying. The set up and pack down are probably the most grueling aspects of the festival – but someone has to do it and why can’t that be you? Granted it will mean close to 10 days in total on site and a lot of back-breaking work, but it also means you’ll essentially have the whole festival weekend off to enjoy the party.
How to get involved: See above. For other festivals, if you can’t see a visibile link to a volunteer program anywhere, don’t be afraid to contact the festival directly.
8. Walk or Cycle. In order to maintain their green objectives, Rocking the Daisies select a handful of people each year to either walk or cycle and some 75km from Cape Town to Darling. For you fitness freaks, or in fact anyone up for a challenge with a juicy reward at the finish line, this promises to be quite an experience.
How to get involved: The handful people involved in these initiatives are handpicked from thousands of applications, so make sure yours is as convincing as possible. Applications usually open several months before the festival so make sure you get in there fast. Apply to walk here or cycle here.
9. Wristband volunteer. Although processing and distributing wristbands can be an arduous task, you’ll work in blocked shifts and usually have either the day or the night off and free to party it up.
10. Be in a Band. Probably the simplest and most effect way – provided you in fact possess some musical talent of course. Not only does this push your musical project further into the local limelight, it’ll also earn you a little street cred on the scene. Furthermore, with the exception of your set, you’ll be mostly free to do your own thing.
How to get involved: If you think your band has what it takes to rock a festival crowd, as well as having a decent bit of experience and press exposure under its belt, apply to perform here or here for the two upcoming Daisies and Koppi.
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