So that’s it, then.
It looks like 2015 was my last Bloodstock as a member of the media.
Why? Not entirely sure, to be honest. I’ve been covering the festival for The Wyrd Ways Rock Show since 2009 (the year Europe headlined), and I’ve always worked bloody hard, interviewing bands performing across all stages. Never trod on anyone’s toes or rubbed anyone the wrong way while I was there. Met a lot of excellent people, too.
I put in my application in May, listing (in detail) what I’d done since 2015 and laid out my plans for the festival itself and the aftermath. Basically, I’d be writing entries live from the event as well as recording interviews with as many bands as I could get my hands on for broadcast through the rest of 2016 and into 2017. I also stated that would mean I would need media tent access so I could get, at the very least, wireless internet access, preferably a hardline.
Based on last year’s experience, I knew that it was pretty much impossible to record decent quality interviews and write anything meaningful in terms of website content from VIP. It was fine if you were just reviewing, but doing interviews? Not practical at all. I’d made the decision a week or so ago that if I didn’t get media tent access, there was no real point in accepting.
I had a bad feeling about all this.
The bad feeling only got worse when responses to my emails, starting last week, were met with “sorry for the delay”, followed by some excuse, or by someone passing the buck, and telling me nothing. By this time I knew people who were applying through Cosa Nostra PR (who seem a damned site more organized, going by the odd encounter) had already been sorted out, which meant interview slots were already being booked up fast. Again all I got from AC Promotions was static. Turns out that two weekends before the biggest festival they look after, when surely everything should have already been sorted out, the staffmember whose job it was to sort out the applications had taken the weekend off. Again. He’d done the same thing the previous year. And the year before.
Ever had the feeling someone really didn’t give much of a shit? That they really couldn’t be bothered doing any work? In comparison, The Noise Cartel, who looked after the event before, worked their arses off. Nelly, Adam, Steph and Nina (as well as various interns through the years) never sat still for more than a moment. To be fair to them, the Cosa Nostra crew were the same, from what I’d seen and comments I’d heard. I saw them moving around the tent from the outside and out in the media area and VIP. AC Promotions? Didn’t clap eyes on them the entire weekend. The year before, I don’t remember seeing one of them move from his seat or take his eyes off his phone for more than a few minutes at a time.
Last year, according to reports from friends of mine who have various radio shows and websites around the country, the media tent was pretty much empty. I can say pretty much for definite that I was the only person out in VIP doing interviews. Looking around, there were also several big names from the independent media scene conspicuous by their absence. Mick The Beard for one. If there was anyone outside the organisation who was a bigger supporter of Bloodstock and what they do, well… they must have been invisible. Yet Mick wasn’t there, and hadn’t been since the new PR company too over. As I said, he wasn’t the only one.
OK, this may well damage my relations with AC Promotions, if not destroy them. I’m really struggling to care, to be honest, since their content has become less and less useful to me and less frequent. Nick and his crew at Nuclear Blast, Andy at Metal Blade and Napalm, Mike at MEPR, the aforementioned Noise Cartel people, Lynne and Marc at Rocksector, Dante and his team at Spinefarm, the folks at ElevenSeven, Lulu at Incendia, Roland at Work Hard PR, Scott at ClawHammer PR, Gary at Frontiers, Becky at Pioneer, Judith at BJF, Emma at Pluggin’Baby, and many others all provide a MUCH better PR service and work harder even with the grassroots like myself.
Like I said. Very disappointing.
Can’t say I’m angry. More I’m hugely disappointed that a festival that’s all about giving smaller bands exposure on a big stage is being hamstrung in that effort by a PR company that really don’t seem to give much of a shit about those selfsame up-and-coming bands and the likes of me and my fellow podcasters and zine writers who spend our own time, money and passion on the only untamed musical style left, trying to help them in their job of elevating the profile of Metal.