Getting photo credentials for a concert or event doesn't have to be difficult. There are several gate keepers you can go through to get your photo pass, all of these routes require persistence, patience, and professionalism.
Just starting out
Before you contact any publications or publicists you need to have a rock solid portfolio of concert photos, otherwise it's very unlikely anybody will take a chance and give you a photo pass.
If you have any friends in bands ask them if you can take photos or just drop by a bar with your camera and ask the band for permission to photograph their set, they'll usually say yes if you offer to share some of the photos with them for their Facebook page, make sure they agree to credit you wherever they use your work.
Access through a publication
Generally, the easiest way to get a photo pass is through a publication, when your shooting for a publication this shows credibility.
To get a pass through a publication you need to have a preexisting relationship with the publication, If you've never worked with the publication before get the contact info for the editor and send them an email with a brief and simple introduction, a proposal of a few of the shows you'd like to shoot for them , and a link to your concert photos portfolio.
The publication's editor will typically deal with the correspondence for you to get you a pass.Keep in mind that the publication may expect their photographers to write a review of the concert to supplement the photos.
Access through the band's publicist or manager
If you plan to get credentials through the bands publicist/manager get their email contact info, email is usually best because it's the least obtrusive method. Bands often list their publicists or managers contact information on their website.
Compose a simple and direct email, be straightforward since these people get a lot of emails everyday and don't have much time. In the email state, which band, concert date, city, and venue your requesting a photo pass for. Include a link to your work, and your contact information. Make the email sound as professional and friendly as possible, you don't want to come off as a fan otherwise you will not be granted access.
This email should be send out anywhere from one month to two weeks prior to the concert.If the publicist approves you to shoot the show send a follow up email to them one week before the show to confirm your credentials will be ready.
Make sure to get the name and telephone or email address for bands tour manager/on site contact incase you have any issues getting into the show. Publicists and managers deal with a lot of photographers so it's possible for credentials to fall through.
At the venue
On the day of the show, remember that in order to pick up your photo pass you will need a valid I.D. otherwise you will probably not be let in.
Live music photography is a very competitive market so you won't always hear back from a publication or publicist when you reach out to them. When reaching out to the same people multiple times always stay friendly and professional and you will have the greatest luck.