Recently on the Punk Junk Magazine Instagram we asked you all if you had any questions for us as people who run a website, are a photographer, and have worked on tour before. So we picked a few of those to answer!
How do you get started handling merch for bands?
A: I got my friends merch gig with a local band that I was friends with. They ran their own merch and eventually just asked me to do it. They were a band that played maybe two or three shows locally a month so it was very low risk to have someone who’s never done merch handle some money and counting behind the table. It’s just really knowing people and who needs help.
O: Funnily enough, Ally can be credited to landing me my first merch position! For a while, I was helping out when I finished up my photography duties and I was able to learn a lot from her- having a kickass merchandise manager as your real life best friend definitely comes in handy!
Is it hard to find content for the magazine?
A: Depending on the type of content we’re looking for. Reviews and interviews are great, there’s so many amazing artists we’re willing to promote and are willing to give us the time of day to interview them. When it comes to pieces like “A Day With - “ or just the bulkier pieces, it can be more challenging to come up with an original idea or a way for our site to stand out.
O: As a photographer, it can definitely get frustrating when the site isn’t getting approved for certain shows, or it seems to be a “dry spell” of attention grabbing tours coming through our city; there are certain things that we, at Punk Junk, have absolutely no control over when it comes to content. Not to mention, there’s a lot of pressure to make our galleries and reviews stand out from the sea of others flooding the internet! We always want our readers, and subscribers, to be immersed in our content which means we need to constantly be making sure it’s inventive and noteworthy!
K: We currently have a few publicists that we keep in contact with and they send us bands, and artists, to review- which is probably the easiest part. What's hard is creating "hot" topics that we want to give our audience.
How do you get connected with the right people to do merch for a tour?
A: 99% of the time it’s who you know. Networking is everything with touring and really the music industry. Sometimes people will post about jobs freely on Facebook, Twitter, or other sites. But 9.9/10 times someone will hire a person off of recommendation (with experience) than someone random.
How do you snag a job as a concert photographer?
O: There are honestly so many different ways to go about shooting concerts. The most common, and most reliable, way to get approved for shows is by working with a publication but it’s not your only option! There are plenty of photographers successfully landing shows on their own; not to mention, when you’re starting out as a music photographer, you’ll typically be shooting in venues that don’t require a photo pass which means you can focus on building a portfolio and shooting to your heart’s content, rather than worrying about working with other creatives. Working independently is definitely a choice worth exploring but, in a lot of cases, publications truly help in regards to approvals. From there, it tends to be a lot of cold emails and hoping for the best! It’s worth mentioning that building relationships, and genuine friendships, within the industry can play a big role. By introducing yourself at shows, or making little connections that eventually build, you open doors for yourself as a photographer and a lot more opportunities tend to come your way.
What bands do you typically look to shoot for?
O: I always love shooting shows that are high energy and have a lot of crowd involvement so I tend to lean towards rock, pop punk, and punk artists! I always love shooting artists who are using their platform for good by spreading some kind of message with their music or performance. Not to mention, it’s always extra special when I get to shoot an artist that I’ve been a fan of, but I also love discovering new artists from the pit. As an artist, I think it’s important to keep an open mind about the kinds of musicians I seek out to shoot because I’d never want to pigeonhole myself with one genre, or one type of performance; I’m always open to trying something new or shooting an artist I’ve never heard before!
What’s the most challenging part about what you do?
A: It depends on the job. For working for the site, it’s just thinking of new and innovative ideas to make PJ stand out. As for merch/touring, I think the most challenging thing is being taken seriously a lot. Most of the time everyone’s great and your job is easy. But there is almost always that one patron, one local staff, or even tourmates who questions you being on that tour (in my experience, not every tour is like that). Almost every show someone assumed I only had my job because I was dating someone in the band, which was literally never the case.
O: When it comes to Punk Junk, it can be difficult trying to find new and inventive ways to keep our site growing. As for photography, like Ally mentioned, it can be challenging when people don’t take you, or your position, seriously. I have had countless negative experiences from concert attendees, local venue staff, tour personnel, etc, over the years and it never seems to get any easier to deal with; whether it be inappropriate comments questioning my ability to do my job, how I got my job, or my professionalism, getting drinks thrown at me, or having local staff physically remove me from the crowd, I’ve experienced a lot. It’s disheartening, and frustrating as hell, when all you want to do is your job and yet, these people who don’t know a single thing about you feel the need to hinder you from doing so.
K: Honestly, just trying to make time for the magazine itself. With having to work so much, and being a full time student, it's definitely a challenge to keep the balance and keep your passion in the industry.
How do you even introduce yourself into the industry as a crew member?
A: It’s easy to develop skills for future touring jobs in your local scene. Whether you’re doing photography, running merch, or managing an artist. Once you have any of that kind of stuff under your belt, it’s a million times easier to network with other people doing the same thing you are and also people higher up/more experienced. I don’t know a single person that I’ve encountered that would flat out not give advice or insight to someone who wanted to know more about working in the industry.
O: When I was starting out, the people around me really hammered in the fact that it never hurts to introduce yourself. Now, as I feel more comfortable in that environment, it’s easier to make those connections. For example, if I was shooting a show, I might go up to the artist after the set to introduce myself and let them know a little bit about what I do- almost every time, they want to hear all about it and some even want to know if, or how, we could work together in the future! Like Ally, I don’t think I have ever come across someone who wasn’t willing to chat, even just for a few minutes.
K: I still have a hard time seriously introducing myself as a professional so I try to slip it into conversations; usually, I'm (low key) hoping they don't really hear or I wait until one of my co-founders step up and says "yeah, we're Punk Junk Magazine. How are you?"
Does being homesick get easier the more you tour?
A: Definitely! I’m gonna be honest, I was never really home sick, even when I was projected to be gone for 2.5 months on my first tour. I always made time to talk to my family when I could. And I was out with people I had considered my best friends so it was kind of just a really weird and long road trip we did.
If you have any more questions, or want us to do another article like this, feel free to tweet us @punkjunkmag or message us on Instagram @punkjunkmag!