Festival Coverage 101

Photo by Robert Altman

Consequence of Sound was founded on festival coverage. From the very beginning, we’ve attended every festival from Timbuktu to Portland, Maine. Or Portland, Oregon for that matter. However, over the years we’ve changed our approach to coverage, from full-on reports to lists and rankings.

These days, we’ve broken down our coverage into two signature styles: “From Worst to Best” or “Top XX Performances.” Ideally, we’d like to go for the former, if only because it’s the most comprehensive way to cover a festival. However, sometimes a festival doesn’t warrant that scope and lends itself to the latter.

Senior Editor Philip Cosores handles each festival on a case-by-case basis, but to help clarify some of the expectations, we’ve put together a one-sheet of all the requirements and materials that go into covering a festival, starting with its pre-production, production, and post-production stages.

Pre-Production

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Photo by Philip Cosores

Prior to attending any festival, we typically like to drum up hype by running a few anticipatory pieces. We have a few established features in place, but we’re always open to new ideas.

Tiny Fonts – This is traditionally Jeremy Zerbe’s territory, but anyone can do it. The conceit behind this feature is highlighting 10 minor acts that have been relegated to the bottom of any lineup. It’s a way to put the spotlight on those we’re interested about. Because of this, any of the acts featured need to be covered in the festival write up. [Examples]

10 Songs [So and So] Needs to Play – This one doesn’t apply to every festival, but let’s say an artist is returning to the stage for the first time in a long while over the weekend. Well, then why not offer 10 songs we’d like to hear from them? For example, this year we’ll be running one for LCD Soundsystem and Guns N’ Roses ahead of their debuts.

Production

cos kaplan friday 2 Festival Coverage 101

Photo by Heather Kaplan

You’re at the festival, you’re seeing bands, you’re taking pictures — that’s not all, though. You’re also witness to a unique chaos, and we’d like to capitalize on that energy by running a few mini-features each day.

Five Weirdest Things We Saw Today – As you go about your daily business, keep your eye open for any eccentricities. Take a photo, type a funny caption, and post it to Instagram. We’ll collect them all and run it as an article for the site that evening.

Five Best Things We Ate Today – Rinse and repeat, but add a few more cents in your Instagram post.

Five Best Flags and Signs – This one’s self-explanatory, is it not? Keep your eyes to the sky and snap whatever signs tickle your fancy. Similar to the above, you’ll want to post on Instagram and we’ll collect them to run that evening.

[Festival Name]’s Best and Worst Dressed – You’re catching our drift by now. This one requires a little finesse as you’ll probably want to talk to whoever you photograph. This could include the fashionable or those in cosplay. Your call.

Post-Production

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Photo by Ben Kaye

It’s all over. The festival’s closed. Everyone’s gone home. Now, it’s time to make a sandwich, kick back, and relax. Not really. This is when the clock starts ticking louder and louder as your mind screams, “You gotta finish the report!”

“Worst to Best” – This report requires a 600-800 word introduction that gives an in-depth summary on the weekend as a whole, focusing on the pros and cons and the in-betweens. You can pepper this with some history, maybe a few quotes, but it should have an authoritative voice and capture everything outside of the bands. As for those, you’ll want to capture at least 25 acts for this to work, and the write ups will range from 100 words (worst) to 150 (mid-level) to 300 words (the best). [Example]

“Top XX Performances” – Similarly, “this report requires a 600-800 word introduction that gives an in-depth summary on the weekend as a whole, focusing on the pros and cons and the in-betweens. You can pepper this with some history, maybe a few quotes, but it should have an authoritative voice and capture everything outside of the bands.” The twist here is that you’ll want to write at least 150-200 words on each act, especially since they’ll all be top performers. [Example]

Preparation: Whether you’re attending alone or with a team, you’ll want to create a Google doc that outlines everything you’re covering. Consider this your source book for the weekend, where you can post your personal ratings for each act on a scale of one to 10. By doing this, you’ll be able to easily rank or chisel down your top performances. This document, however, must be shared with your teammates and Philip Cosores and include the acts, times, stages, and who’s writing/attending.

Photography: Every photo needs to be over 1,000 pixels either vertically or (ideally) horizontally. Each photo should be labeled by the band name and include your full name at the end; for example, “radiohead-philip-cosores.jpg.” You’ll want to zip up each day’s work and send via Google Drive or Dropbox, though preferably the former.

Deadline: We need all materials within five to eight hours after the festival’s conclusion. Our recommendation? Start writing as the weekend unfolds, and as always: communication, communication, communication.