Something struck me last night. Something that surprised me.
I’m not really sure I want to go to Bloodstock anymore. Certainly not on my own as a paying guest.
Between 2009 and 2015, I was there as media. That meant access to the media area and VIP. It also meant I was there working. I saw what bands I could around interview schedules. Those years left me with some excellent memories and some people I can count as friends. For most of those years, I’ve had company, since Sarah (and later, David) came along and worked alongside me doing interviews, taking photos and so on.
2010 (when I was there on my own) was still OK thanks to some awesome people. Dan, Rod, Kev, Red, Emma… you’re all a big part of the reason for the fond memories of that year, despite me missing Sarah and David.
Then came 2014, when AC Promotions tightened their grip on the radio side of media. Media outlets were limited to two people per team. Some of the most active promoters of Bloodstock were denied space. The atmosphere in the press area was muted. It wasn’t as much fun anymore. Things got worse in 2015. Not only were media outlets limited to two people each, they also severely limited access to the media area, which meant people like me, who weren’t on “proper” radio stations (even though we had demonstrably bigger audiences than said radio stations) were kicked out into the VIP area only.
In 2016, despite me telling AC, in no uncertain terms, that not being allowed media access in 2015 had severely damaged the coverage I was able to provide to Bloodstock and offering some possible solutions that would keep everyone happy if implemented, I was only offered VIP again at very short notice. I turned them down saying I couldn’t do the festival justice with such short notice (most of the interview slots would have been taken by the time they got round to telling me – I’ve wondered ever since if that was done on purpose as punishment because I complained), and since I didn’t have media access, the quality of the material I would generate would suffer, which meant Bloodstock wouldn’t benefit as much.
For 2017, despite mental illness problems at the beginning of the year that really screwed up my ability to get the Rock Show done, and keep up to date with music and so on, I applied again for media access at Bloodstock. Again, I stated that media access was important, since it would allow me to do more interviews and keep the sound quality etc up. I also suggested that I would be liveblogging and filming. I repeated and reinforced my assertion that denying me media access (and an enclosed space) would mean that the quality of the interviews I would be conducting would suffer.
A few weeks later, they emailed to say I’d been turned down.
When I emailed back to ask why, they basically repeated my reasons for needing media tent access back at me as reasons I wasn’t going to be getting media access and why NO ONE was going to be interviewing in VIP.
So they used the rational I had set out to petition for full media area access (word for word, mind) as a reason to not only deny me media access, but to chop VIP media. I also found out that Red wouldn’t be there and stalwarts of the press room like Hayley Leggs weren’t going to be there either. I’d been told that in 2016, the media area was virtually empty, and it was looking like it was going to be even quieter in 2017.
Obviously I was both appalled and fucking furious. Not just for myself, but for the other people who do what I do, working from the grass roots, just because we love it and the bands who now wouldn’t be getting any sort of media exposure at all. Let’s face it, Metal Hammer, Kerrang! and the Radio One Rock Show aren’t going to be interested in some band who played in the M2TM tent in the middle of Saturday afternoon when they’d been talking to the band that had been headlining the RJD Stage the night before.
I emailed the Gregorys and the response I got shocked and horrified me. Apparently they were happy with the way AC were running the media area. They were happy that a PR company was excluding the majority of the media outlets who would have given most coverage to the bands they were proudest about bringing in: the competitors and winners of the Metal 2 The Masses competition.
So… yeah… a little disillusioned. In a flash of righteous indignation, I blustered about getting a VIP ticket and setting up a rebel press area in the Serpent’s Lair… but despite the announcements of Judas Priest and Nightwish… that’s £300 that could go elsewhere. The experience of applying for the last couple of years has really tarnished Bloodstock for me. I love the festival. The atmosphere is similar to the likes of SOS, despite being many times the size… but is it just the anxiety and depression whispering in my ear, or am I really not welcome, which was how AC made me feel? If I get a VIP or standard ticket, I’ll be there on my own. That’ll probably mean (from bitter experience), that’s how I’ll stay, which means I’ll be totally miserable, and will spend most of the weekend wishing I hadn’t bothered.
This really is where the social anxiety thing I’ve got really fucks me over. I don’t really have many friends because I’ve just not been able to make any on my own. Maybe I really should just stay at home…
Sarah had offered to get me a standard ticket for Christmas, and I’d sort out a VIP upgrade myself, but… well… do I go? Or do I take up the other suggestion of a limited edition Stormbender?
Answers on a postcard…?