By Ashley Aron
In the land of concerts, there is a glorious compilation of names put together by band members, their crew, and the venue that can act as your golden ticket for the evening. It’s called the guest list — a list of people who, by some connection, are (as you might have guessed) guests of a person working the show. In other words, free admission!
Now, the big question is how does one get on this magical list? Ninety-five percent of the time, it’s because you’ve got a friend in the band or crew but, regardless of how you get on the list, there are some common courtesy rules you should keep in mind.
· IF A FRIEND INVITES YOU — Sweet! Make sure you talk to him or her beforehand, preferably the morning you friend arrives at the venue, so that you can confirm you’re on the guest list; nothing worse than driving all that way and finding you can’t get in (true story). Also, confirm whether you’ve got a single guest list spot or a guest list plus-one. The former means only your name is on the list, while the latter means you and ONE friend whose name doesn’t have to be on the list will be admitted. Don’t be a douche: remember to say thanks!
· WARNING: THE GUEST LIST IS NOT A BACKSTAGE PASS — Being on the guest list is technically free admission as a guest, but do not mistake it as an invitation to follow your friend backstage and try to snap pictures with Jonny Bassist. If your friend INVITES you backstage, that’s another story, but don’t assume anything unless they explicitly say so. The bigger the tour, the tougher the security, and do you really want to try to fight your way past the Hagrid-like security guards? Didn’t think so.
· SO YOUR FRIEND IS ON THE TOUR BUT HASN’T INVITED YOU – IS IT OK TO ASK? This one’s a tad complicated, so let’s break it down:
— Is this really a friend, or just acquaintance? If you aren’t good enough friends to name the person’s hometown, top three bands, and favorite pizza topping, don’t bother.
— What position is your friend in? Is he or she a band member, tour manager, merch person, or groupie? Band members and TMs will probably have higher priority in claiming guest list spots than most. If your friend is just taking photos for a few days on tour, don’t pressure him or her into getting you in when they might not be able to at all.
— Where/when is the date you’re trying to get guest-listed for? Is it a Friday night hometown show, the city their management is based out of, or a music industry hub? If so, then guest list spots are probably limited. If it’s a show on a weeknight in Bumblefuck, Nowheresville, then you might have a pretty good shot.
· “BUT I DON’T KNOW ANYONE ON TOUR!” JOIN A STREET TEAM. Many local bands and venues have street teams whose job is to help promote and create buzz about shows. For example, I’m a part of the street team for Equal Vision Records. In return for putting up posters for tours coming to Syracuse, I get a guest list plus-one for the date of my choosing. Guest list spots are often an incentive for street teamers, so see if a nearby venue or your favorite band has one for you to join. Even if there aren’t guest list spots available, it’s still a great way to get involved with your local scene.
· TRY TO GET LUCKY. Keep tabs on contests, drawings, or other ways you can win free tickets and/or guest list spots to an upcoming show. For NYC locals, Music Geeks, the team behind shows at Gramercy Theater, Irving Plaza, Roseland Ballroom, and more has a mailing list; it includes weekly ticket giveaways. Hey, you never know, right?