How to Land on Stage at Ultra with “No Credentials”

no-credentials

Before being aligned to one of the most relevant sites in the game through Complex, I had no idea how to get my foot in the door. I made a conscious decision to take music seriously in the spring of 2011, and have since done sit-down interviews with Birdy Nam Nam, Kill The Noise, Skream, and tons of other artists. My DJ mixes have netted over half a million streams across several platforms. I did the DJ mix for Munchi’s Trap Bubbling, which is nearing 100,000 plays. I’ve written up hundreds of artists. But we all need to start somewhere.

My personal experience was different. My ability to pick winners in electronic music has been undeniable, and I used my first position in the industry at a small (but highly regarded) website called Generation Bass to archive my opinions. My first interview was with a then-unknown producer named Dillon Francis. I booked him for a show in Chicago with Craze, Dieselboy, and another overlooked act, Heroes x Villains two weeks later. Dillon Francis‘ co-sign of my good friend and cameraman Definate got us unrestricted stage access to film Skrillex in Tennessee. That video went viral. And every move I made from then on got bigger and bigger.

Why does any of this matter? Because anyone that wants to make moves in this industry needs a game plan in order to stand out. You have to be able to think 10 steps ahead. This industry isn’t unlike a chess game with thousands of pieces. But now that an inconceivable amount of money is being spent and earned in the industry, everyone wants to hop on the EDM bandwagon. It’s getting harder and harder for photographers and writers to gain access to the small pool of talent that shapes the market. On my rise to the top I have eyed up guestlists and given someone else’s name, lied about my credentials, and called in 1000 favors.

And just to prove that they could do in one day what took me two years to accomplish, Cruz + Jacob documented how they went to one biggest festivals in the United States with no credentials, snapped a picture of an all-access laminate, and used it as a reference to photoshop and print their own. They hopped on a boat, hitched a ride on a golf cart, and followed Skrillex right onto a stage at Ultra. People pay hundreds of dollars for passes, and getting additional access is the ultimate flex for anyone documenting the scene right now. This duo paid nothing, and got the most exclusive access possible.

Why would this duo take so much time and effort to dupe the system? Who knows. But one should watch this mini-documentary and keep in mind that people have to jump through hoops in order to compete. The festivals that I am graciously invited to now couldn’t seem to find a spot for me on their list last year. Our access and relationships give us a heads up on content that a smaller site simply can’t get their hands on. And while we get the better end of the deal, we can’t help but to sympathize with the hundreds of sites and thousands of writers that don’t get a spot on a guest list simply because their site isn’t getting the clicks that ours is.

The industry has been over-saturated by people that are incredibly casual with their hustle, and the availability of affordable DSLR cameras seemingly turned everyone into a cinematographer overnight. Though this film fails to highlight the importance of Jason Ano and his work with Skrillex, as well as the fact that Stephen Vasquez was years ahead of his time with The Electro Wars, it does a great job documenting those that were groundbreakers several years ago and how their history is being diluted by novice enthusiasts. EDM as a market is a relatively new thought, and it’s easy to forget the pioneers that made it possible. No Credentials does an amazing job at giving us insight on how our history intersects and interacts with our past.

It would be easy to write this off one way or the other. You can marvel at how cool it is that Cruz + Jacob found a loophole in the system, or you can ask why these loopholes exist. I will continue to stand my ground and state that the EDM bubble isn’t anywhere close to bursting, but this is an indicator of times to come. Tougher restrictions on access, a wider separation between those that can get an artist or a festival coverage and those trying to get their foot in the door, and people within the industry exposing the pitfalls are going to crash in waves. Give this piece a look, and let us know what your thoughts are.

  • DJ Amy Robbins

    Amazing. And it’s so true.. Night life IS a complete joke. Ten bucks on that every club owner just sits back and laughs at how much money they make while monkeys get drunk and try to get laid.