I really want to use this blog not only to unify artists, but to uplift those artists and make them realize how valuable they are. Without art, there is no quality of life. Without music, there is no beat to put your story to. Without still art, there is no background. And without writing, there is no history. Art is a part of an individual’s very BEING. So why should an artist have to pay to share that?
I appreciate going to venues with incredible sound systems and being able to see what Hip-Hop, R&B, and Soul have matured into. What I do not like is having to sit through 4 or more mediocre opening acts who have only had to sell tickets to the event to have that spot on the stage. It is frustrating to sit through, sometimes uncomfortable to watch, and saddening to understand. I am a supporter of the promoter, I am not throwing shade. It takes a good amount of time and energy to host and pack a show. Great promoters are the key to a musician’s success. But what about those promoters that really aren’t doing anything? If you have 4 groups of people hustling for you, well, then you’re in a higher position than you think.
So let’s just break down this idea of pay-to-play as simply as possible. The promoter books the main act, and let’s just say that artist’s Manager charges the venue $15,000. That promoter is going to make a certain amount of money off of the door, and possibly the bar. Let’s say the venue holds 750 people, and the venue sets ticket costs at $35 a piece. Just in ticket sales (without the extra cost of fees and parking), they’ve paid for the artist and have an extra $11,250 in their registers. Let’s say the bar serves half of that crowd 2 drinks each and they make $5 off each drink (that adds up to $3750). That is $15,000 is raw profit. Even if the promoter is only making 10% of that, he is still taking home $1500. And all of this is without artists paying to open for the main act.
I recently attended a show that featured one of my favorite rappers of all time. Upon arrival I walked in and I wasn’t really feeling the opener, so I got a drink. The next opener was good and I started to get into my zone, and that’s when it went downhill. There were two more openers, one seemed like he was rapping as a hobby and the other forgot half of all of his verses. Needless to say, the crowd was not pleased and the mood got pretty tense. Obviously, once the main act hit the stage all was forgotten and forgiven and the night ended on a high note. But what did those opening acts get out of it? If they were good, they got some good exposure, but if they were bad they just got booed ad laughed at.
And let’s get to the real fact, the audience just paid to see two hours of music that they would have never wanted to hear. None of the acts had any musical similarities to the main, and only one matched his energy. That one should have performed right before the main act, but he probably didn’t sell enough tickets. On the flip side, the artists all just entertained people enough to get those same people to buy drinks that they made no money off of. That main artist got his, because he is seasoned and would never pay to perform anywhere. The damage goes deep, and artists really need to start understanding their money before we all lose the true joy that comes from a great live show. Know your worth, and know that if your music truly speaks to people that you will develop a fan base that will pay good money to see you!