Electronic dance music, or EDM, is taking over more than just major radio airwaves. Dozens of EDM festivals are popping up across the US. Atlanta is no exception. It hosted two EDM festivals in the past year. Both CounterPoint and the Magnetic Music Festival attracted more than 12,000 young festival-goers. Other EDM festivals like Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas attract thousands more.
At these festivals, the audience is the performer… the only person on stage is a producer… and high-energy music fills the air. One festival junkie at the Magnetic Music Festival spoke eagerly about the rise of these festivals. Alex from Atlanta says they are uniting a generation.
“I’m covering the Magnetic Music Festival!”
My fingers pounded the keyboard with pure excitement as I announced my next Coca-Cola story via social media. Moments later, the first of many responses bombarded my notifications. Remarks varied from, “you lucky duck” and “I’m so jealous,” to the sarcastic, “oh that sounds so rough.” But from setting up artist interviews, to filming three different stages at the same time, to sorting through hours of footage… covering music festivals is no free concert. Fortunately, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Last September I filmed the CounterPoint Music Festival in Atlanta. After covering the three-day festival as a lone ranger with a broken foot, I definitely learned a thing or two. But no matter how much you prepare, filming any story is never smooth sailing.
At the Magnetic Music Festival I had two major hiccups, filming crowds discretely and setting up artist interviews. I knew filming solo was biting off more than I could chew. There were too many stages, too many people (12,000), and too much ground to cover alone. Therefore I asked fellow UGA media graduate Nicole Castillo to help. Filming crowds is tricky because you want people to “act natural.” Footage loses authenticity when people wave frantically at the camera, scream shout outs like “hi mom,” or say/make inappropriate gestures because they find their antics hilarious. To prevent this behavior we made sure festival-goers acknowledged us filming them but let them carry on like we weren’t there.
The next obstacle—booking EDM artist interviews. Interviews are not just handed to journalists on a silver platter. Typically the more well known a person is, the harder it is to book them. I spent hours emailing, tweeting, facebooking, and calling managers until I finally had a break through. Adventure Club was booked. However, it was only a temporary sigh of relief. An interview is never a guarantee until it’s over. It took me hours to finally get in touch and meet up the day of the festival. But the wait was well worth it. After the interview I asked if I could film his show on stage. He responded, “Film away”. All my persistence paid off.
Post festival, nothing could have prepared me for the writer’s block that ensued. I had a few technical issues because the loud music deafened my camera’s speakers and I had hours of footage to organize. However nothing, and I mean NOTHING is worse than writer’s block. It’s not that I couldn’t think of anything to write. Instead, the problem was narrowing down what to write. EDM festivals fascinate me. Therefore I could write 100 different stories on the subject in 100 different ways. But more is not always merrier. My script became bogged down with too much information. Because I have covered EDM festivals before, I know more about them then the general public. This showed in my writing. I was not abiding the journalism cardinal rule: write to your audience. Once I went back to the basics—HIYAH!-- I broke through my writer’s block. At the end of the day, telling a good story is all just a matter of finding direction and teaching reader’s something new.
Meagan Priselac is a Digital Communications Intern at The Coca-Cola Company.