the first thing to do is, don't sign those contracts that limit what you can do with your images. Doing so will mean that you can't put them on your website to show you can shoot concerts, Don't trade the rights to your photos to be given to the artist for a press pass. This'll just make it that much harder for you to earn money when you do finally get into a rhythm of covering shows, because the bands will not only be of the mindset that photographers will do it, but in addition, others coming up behind you will think that that's the way to get a foot in the door. It's not.
So, how do you make images like the one above?
That image was made just a few months ago, of the very very popular artist Mya. She was singing at an outdoor no-ticket venue, where photography was allowed.
There are countless places where you can hone your skills without selling your soul. And yes, when you take pictures and sign away all (or even some) of your rights to your creative works, you are, to one degree or another, selling your soul. Don't do it.
Summer festivals are chock full of GREAT artists at state fairs, outdoor performance theaters at amusement parks, beach concert series, and so forth. Local radio stations often sponsor local concerts in outdoor areas. In LA, there's Jimmy Kimmel's Pontiac Garage, in NYC, there's the NBC Outdoor Concert Series, and so forth. Go, make pictures, and practice. Take great pictures - ones that you own, and can offer to publications, or demonstate your capabilities on your website so concert-oriented publications will hire you. Further, there are a number of venues and artists where taking pictures is perfectly ok. One touring now is the hip-hop oriented Screamfest, (above left), where 50-cent was performing. For this image, I was wandering amongst the seats (i.e. not in the buffer), so this is an image that any ticketed attendee could have made. There are, of course many other concerts where you can do this.
This image below was made of Hillary Duff at another outdoor ticketless-cameras-ok event that she was performing at. Here, while it looks like I am in the buffer, I'm not.
How do you get up close/up front? Buy the tickets first, if it's a ticketed venue that allows photography. If it's a festival, go alone (and not with a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend) because there's almost always a single seat open near the front as others take their seats in pairs. This also works for ticketed photography-ok performances - often a single seat will be available very close to the stage, and since you're there to work (or, practicing working), having your significant other there is going to be a distraction to the work at hand, if you're taking this seriously.
Further, get tickets to shows you may not normally go to, since you'll need to know how to work a variety of performance styles and genres.
If there are no seats, get there early, or cautiously make your way to the front.
Once you have a collection of images that show you know what you're doing, and they're attractively shown on your website, then begin making the pitch to concert-oriented publications/outlets.
Oh, and one last thing - if you think that your $300 flash can light the stage better than a $10k-$1M lighting truss, operated by a skilled technician who took all day to get the light perfect on stage, then stop taking pictures and revisit lighting 101. Aside from the fact that your flash is a distraction to the artist, your photos will look like snapshots. Let the lighting guy do his thing, and then wait for just the right blend of main and fill, along with artist expressions to give you just the right image, but hurry, you've got about 20 seconds left before you get the hook.
P.S. - The lighting's tungsten indoors, but you're shooting raw, so it doesn't matter, right?
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Primer
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Multiple Shooting Positions
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - VIP Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - All Access Credentials
So, You Want to Shoot Concerts? - Getting Started, The Right Way
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.