Arts Desk

Head-Roc’s Mouth: Should DMV Musicians Pay $1,000 to Open a Show? Absolutely Not.

An occasional feature in which esteemed D.C. rapper Head-Roc shares what’s on his mind.

Last week, I got a text message from a well-known local hip-hop promoter. It said:  "I’m looking for a rapper or producer interesting in opening up for [a well-known local artist] at LIV [in April]. Connect me if you know someone who’d be interested."

Since I know a few stellar artists who would jump at the chance to open up for this particular artist, who has been getting it in on the regional and national level for more than a year now, I sent a text back over that said: "Pay?"

To which the promoter replied: "I need a team who can drop $500 to $1,000 toward the show in exchange for stage time and tickets to sell. Packages include enough tickets to make profit. $500 will get the artist 10 mins and $1,000 worth of tickets. $1,000 will get the artist 20 mins and $2,000 worth of tickets. The lineup will be full in about a week or two at most. So if you know someone who can flip it, have em hit me up sooner than later."

My response: “[Black Cultural Term of Endearment]... That is a motherfucking scam, and I will have no part. Are you kidding me? Don't ever send me no shit like this again."

The promoter responded, “Hahahhahaaha hilarious... it's a huge opportunity for some... just reaching thru my phone book don't take it so personal. And I don't scam no one."

“I am done being nice to you [Black Cultural Term of Endearment]," I texted. "God don’t like ugly. That shit you sent me is wicked."

Boldly, this cat sends back the following to my phone: “Explain to me how it's wicked? Many artists will benefit from the package I'm offering. Meeting with my first act in a few mins. They gonna give their tickets out for free to folks in their hood and use the event to launch their music video. It ain't for everybody... there is a place. Good morning to you too.”

I did not respond.

Don't get me wrong: LIV is a great spot to rock, and it's home to the champion of all D.C. open mics, the Gods’illa-produced Up and Up Open Mic on Tuesdays. (I have rocked there myself a few times; I love the stage and the space LIV provides for local rock stars.) But this promoter's pay-to-play deal? Look: Promoters are gatekeepers, and that's a valuable position that requires a lot of responsibility and a sense of a community's needs. In almost every art scene, we're dealing with economic predators looking to make a quick buck by preying on the desperation all artists experience at some point as they struggle to find places to perform and display their work.

Yes, I said "work." Creating art, especially professionally, is work. Just like how serving as a judge, lawyer, custodian, school teacher, food service worker, or waiter is work.

Now, raise your hand real high if you pay to go to work.
Raise both hands if you pay your employer to work for them.

This is a stick-up!

I wasn’t mad at the brother. But I was shocked. It ain't even funny how many times I've written about the irredeemable practice of requiring professionals to sell tickets to pack their own shows. The promoter of this concert said he sent out a group text that included me. He made a serious mistake.

I am revving up to plant the seeds that will grow into a grassroots campaign in support of the entire D.C. arts community, long frustrated with being robbed of their earnings by predatory practitioners of what I call sharecropping booking practices. The definition of sharecropping, if you don't already know, is just a hair—a gnat’s hair—above flat-out slavery.

It’s the responsibility of other gatekeepers and tastemakers in the community to step up to this kind of practice. Unfortunately, too many of my fellow movers and shakers continue to remain silent when this type of ugliness arises. Have you been wronged by a local establishment or promoter who disrespected you, disenfranchised you, or stole door or bar money owed to you for a night's work? Speak up. Many of the artists who complain to me about being robbed return to the some of the same venues, subjecting themselves to the exact same predatory practice over and over again.

Last week, I took to Facebook to air my thoughts on the issue, and I made a decision: I'm calling for a general artists' strike here in Chocolate City to begin on the first day of spring. As a professional artist, I have long instituted a policy that I do not pay to play a stage. Are you a professional artist working to earn a living that will pay your bills, keep a roof over your head, and feed your family? And are you being asked to devalue yourself for a promoter's profit? Consider putting March 20 on your calendar. A solidarity meeting will happen that day where we all can come together and discuss the problems plaguing us. Stay tuned.

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  • name

    You fundamentally misunderstand the concept of making money and this is why your business (you) is never going anywhere.

    The promoter is not "hiring" you as an employee. They are contracting with a business for a show. The fact that your "business" is a one man jam is irrelevant to the promoter. Businesses do all sorts of things below cost to make more money later. Ever heard of a black friday sale at Christmas? Businesses sell one product at or below cost, and make it up on all the extra do-dads and volume of people that come into the store and buy something else. The concept is lose money here, to make more money there.

    Are you contributing up front for security, rental fees, promotions, electrical? No, you're not. Your asking fro free money without providing anything of value in return. Go try to throw your own show and see what it costs you to even get the lights on. That's where the $500-$1000 comes from. It's called sharing the up front costs.

    For the act looking to market their video to 10's of thousands of people it could cost them tens of thousands of dollars. Now they've got customers queued up and waiting for them for the measly cost of $1000. They just spent $1k and saved $9k because your a crappy business person. They're smart, you're not.

    What you should have done is taken the offer, recorded a CD and made a Tshirt and made your money off all the people who like your act. You.got.access.to.10k people.for.$1000.

    That's how business is done, foolio.

  • JS

    to "name" above.

    i can tell you have never been to LIV. It's an AWESOME spot to see a show... because it's quite small. Your claims of "access to 10k people for $1000" or "market their video to 10's of thousands of people" couldn't possibly happen because the room fits 250-300 people.

    If 250 come and you paid $1000 to play the show, you are paying each one of those 250 people $4 to check out your music. does that sound like a great deal to you?

    maybe you shouldn't chime in about a topic unless you know about the venue in question.

  • Ahmad

    This general strike should be expanded to venues and promoters that try pulling that polling nonsense every night. Yeah, this topic has been hashed and rehashed here but that practice is just as dirty.

  • Tom M

    Somebody had a great song lyric that was "you cannot win if you do not play." Could be updated to "cannot win if you do not pay." That said, no one is entitled to be paid "for their art". And not everyone is cut out for show BUSINESS. That is what it is after all -- B.U.S.I.N.E.S.S.

  • Erika

    I love live music and want to support local bands and performers. I go to see the music, purchase a ticket from the venue and order drinks from the bar. This business model allows venue, performers, and staff to get paid. Performers should not pay to play. If you are having a special event then you pay the venue for the space dedicated to your group and also get to decide who comes. Simple. If you are selling opening slots for performers sub par performances could be packaged with actual "talent". That's not fair to music lovers who are paying for a show to see a crappy performer who was willing to pay $1000. What could have been a memorable show for someone is being diminished by greed.

  • Lindsay

    While I also think this is criminal, this is still happening because there are enough artists who are willing to do it. It's a shame because then you're selecting the talent for your club based on who's willing to pay. If I were running a venue, I'd rather have a more curated calendar.

  • http://www.konshens.com/soulqemistry Dwayne

    i dont agree with the practice of pay-for-play...BUT for those who are desperate enough or have the ability to spend money on that kind of promotion, then i say more power to THEM! personally, i think your TALENT should put you in a position to command being PUT on a show as opposed to BUYING your way on.

    and to me, the real loser is the consumer...the person who has to sit in this crowd and watch a show full of dudes (or women) who's only qualifier to be on the bill is the fact that they had the ability and the gumption to spend their cash on being on the stage. does not set up the show to be enjoyed by anyone except for the guys on stage trying to make spending that money worth the opportunity.

    its not for everyone...and shows like that are just not for me.

    it makes it tempting to be "shady" like other promoters when you know exactly what we have to go through to put on these shows, but our integrity to the art of music just won't let us. because for us, its not about making money like most promoters. its about being able to bring new music to the world for people to discover and enjoy. without the people coming and or the artists self promoting, then you run the risk of not having good shows with truly talented artists. then when the opportunities die, then desperation kicks in...especially for the up and coming artists trying to make a name for them self.

    its not easy...its a very delicate balance that these artists are facing. i dont blame the one's who do pay-to-play, i don't even blame the promoters...its really about the consumers. they dictate whether or not events like that even need to exist! if they came out to shows the "conventional" way like in most other genres outside of rap music, then you wouldn't have these promoters feeling the "need" to do something of this nature JUST have a show for these folks.

    that is why me and Konshens started The CO-OP Entertainment Company and doing the shows like Soul Qemistry we've been doing for the past 5 years. we strive to PAY artist...its not much that we offer, its as much as we can, but at least its SOMETHING!

    its a vicious cycle that i hope will end, but it starts with artists NOT paying to play...the tactic only works if people are doing it...plain and simple

  • Irminsul

    You have GOT to be kidding me with this shit.

    I have seen the nefarious pay to play scheme blossom over the last couple of decades, but this is a new low. Upside down world if there ever was one. It is not the place or responsibility of the artist to "share costs" with some entity that is putting on a concert. It is a business risk of THAT entity alone. Period. Don't give me this bullsquish about a "business model". It is no such thing. It is, as the author of the piece above accurately noted, a SCAM. A stick up. The only reason this disease is still spreading is because there are still artists desperate enough...or dumb enough....to buy into it thinking they have no recourse. Well, you do. WE do. But we have to stick together and resist this atrocious development in the professional community.

    March 20th shouldn't be just a red letter day for DC artists. It needs to be nationwide.

  • DJ All City

    Yeah I totally feel the real disgust behind that an artist can feel. I am a graphic designer, dj and city socialite. And I cant tell you how many times the venue wants me to design, promote and dj the damn event. Shit it might as well be my event in total. Im not your fuckin ad agency and street team. It costs me enough just to get music and be talented enough to practice and play a good set. Promoting it is another cost entirely. I dont have all the solutions but this is definately a relevant issue to explore and deal with, so other folks dont get screwed in their quest to make art and show their work.

  • ned

    Where is it written that a person is required to be paid for their art? Aren't the practices being described in this article similar to what helped spawn the whole harDCore movement? If you don't like label or venue practices start your own label and venue or find alternatives...right? The term 'starving artist' exists for a reason.

  • Andrew

    Does the headlining artist know the promoter is using their name to take advantage of other artists? It appears this promoter is going beyond the common scumbag practice of using artists to facilitate advanced ticket sales by dangling the chance to open for a marquee act in front of artists.

  • Another Anon Artist

    The owner of LIV is just awful when it comes to artists. He will smile to your face and then screw you over as soon as he gets the chance. And he will.

    He is not a decent human being.

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE....

    First, I am the promoter of this show.

    Second, Fat Trel was initially booked on this show as a judge. It is the final round of the 3 simultaneous leagues I have running (a Record Pool, Beat Battle, & Freestyle Battle). Then since he was coming all the way here from California, I paid him more and upgraded the show to a full performance.

    Third, there were originally gonna be ZERO openers on this show but due to demand I changed that policy. I work with over a hundred rappers on a person level & I have thrown over 300 hip hop shows with over a thousands artists (including hip hop hater #1 Head Roc).

    Lasty, have any of you actually done the MATH???

    LIV's Capacity = 350
    Opening Acts = 6
    Tickets Per Opener = 50

    350 - (6 * 50) = 50

    The amount of tickets the promoter has left = 50

    I presold 300 tickets for $3,000. How much do you think Fat Trel costs??? How much do you think LIV costs??? If you actually did the math, you would see that the people who will make the most money off this show are going to be Fat Trel & the rappers who open up the show for him.

    The dude who left the first comment was on point

    "Businesses sell one product at or below cost, and make it up on all the extra do-dads and volume of people that come into the store and buy something else. The concept is lose money here, to make more money there."

    If I make any profit on this show, it will be from sponsorships not from ticket sales, do the math!!!

    "Where is it written that a person is required to be paid for their art? Aren't the practices being described in this article similar to what helped spawn the whole harDCore movement? If you don't like label or venue practices start your own label and venue or find alternatives...right? The term 'starving artist' exists for a reason."

    hell yeah! you fucking feel me...this is bigger than one artist, my goal is to create a SUSTAINABLE PLATFORM for DC RAP. The only way it will be sustainable is if the artists take ownership of this shit & get involved...stop looking at promoters as the end all solution becuz that's how you turn someone who has a passion for doing this shit into a broke burnt out hater.

    Fuck with my movement or get the fuck out the way but you can't stop it...

    #1vsM

  • billy

    whats the point of a promoter if they are requiring artists to buy time and sell the tickets to their own performances themselves?

    the promoter isnt 'promoting' shit in that case and should not call them self a promoter.

    there was a great article about this same thing in LA Weekly last year.

  • Gadget

    Got the same text. After he responded with the price the opening artist had to pay, I declined. I refuse to have my artist pay the headliner's salary for the night. I like the venue but you would never get 300 people in LIV. Never.... You would never make that money back and the chance of gaining maybe 5 fans is really not worth it...

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    billy - I do not call myself a promoter, other's gave me that name. I'm a web developer.

    Gadget - It's not for everyone, but don't get it twisted, there are lots of hip hop teams who could easily move 50 tickets to this show.

    I currently have 3 openers, they are ALL GROUPS. It's nothing for a group to put together the funds collectively & it's nothing for a group to sell tickets collectively. Y'all got the game twisted cuz you are solo artists with no contact lists... no fans... no movements behind you. Those are not the artists who should be opening for Fat Trel in my opinion.

    I am not here to be a rap critic, I'm not gonna say someone should be on a show cuz their music sounds like Fat Trels...I don't care. However, if I'm going to put up thousands of dollars for a hip hop show that I AM NOT RAPPING ON...digest that part. Most hip hop promoters throw shows and they rap on it...i don't hop on stage and hog the glory.

    I don't really give a fuck who views what i do how becuz at the end of the day y'all fuckas ain't doin the shit. Get off your ass and rent out venues, promote the events every day, and make it your responsibility to owe thousands of dollars. You do all that once...then... kiss my ass...do it a hundred times... then come talk to me. I put in work for the DC hip hop scene.

    Y'all are bitching about 1 show I've thrown what about the hundreds of shows I've thrown & the thousands of artists who've performed on them without paying fees.

    Real talk, if you can't put $500 behind your movement...I DON'T WANT TO REPRESENT YOUR WEAK ASS HIP HOP MOVEMENTS. It's groups out there who will make money off this show & you will see them on many of my fliers cuz they will reinvest that money and keep getting their name out there and together we will throw successful events.

    " I like the venue but you would never get 300 people in LIV. Never.... You would never make that money back and the chance of gaining maybe 5 fans is really not worth it..."

    Please come to LIV on April 28th, you will eat those words lol. I got 500 people in LIV in October.

    WHERE ARE THE RAPPERS WITH REAL MOVEMENTS BEHIND THEM????? Y'all hit me up, let's work. The rest of y'all lazy, welfare rappers who think you should get paid for existing...GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY!!!

    #1vsM

  • LOL!

    This is why the DC rap scene will never amount to anything. A bunch of pretentious prick ass rappers who refuse to invest in THEIR careers.

    Don't get me wrong, $1000 for a 20 minute set at Liv is absolutely horrendous...especially considering your garden variety DC rapper makes about $11.25/hr at UPS. But as a person who has a attempted to work with many of these local "artists" on a professional level before, I can tell you that many of them are very unappreciative with absolutely no knowledge of business or how the entertainment industry works. I mean, why do you think Fat Trel moved to Cali?

    DC is home to some of the sleaziest venue owners, worst studios and promoters looking for a quick, unrealistic come up. Oh, and a lot of the rappers here act like their owed something just because they wrote some song their girlfriend liked (the bitch is lying you suck). Put this all together and mix it up in a big pot and I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, the DC rap scene- one big, steaming pile of disillusionment and utter fuckery.

    Good luck with the show though!

    p.s. Head Roc, I'm sure you're intentions are pure but I've heard the road to hell is paved with this same material. You sound like an angry old man rather than the music veteran that you are.

  • http://www.divasnrides.com Ron The Don

    Industry Rule #4080, record company people are shady. Then again, the local music scene has its share of shady people! The music business attract those who can't run a successful business out of a wet paper bag. It's clear this so-called promoter isn't a real promoter. He was looking for cheap labor to do his job. The only this can stop is when artists stand for themselves, work together and seek alternatives to business practices that hurt not help artists.

  • DCSuperSid

    I've heard this argument for years, and there are definitely two sides. I don't a problem with artists paying $10 at an open mic, because the promoter does have to cover his own costs.

    I think it's funny that rappers who haven't even sold one CD yet will get insulted because they have to pay $10 to perform.

    The main problem with this story is the promoter is expecting the rapper to sell 50 tickets. Once again, if the artist hasn't moved any units, and is offering his CD for free download, how is he going to sell 50 tickets? That is a scam.

    It is sad that a lot of gullible (and probably young) artists are going to get burned. Hopefully they will "charge this one to the game" and not be deterred from investing further in their careers.

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    DC Super Sid, selling 50 tickets is not a scam. I started out promoting shows because I was originally rapping on them. I opened up for the Beatnuts at Sonar and we flipped 50 tickets coming from DC and rocking in Baltimore. I did the same thing when my group opened up at Sonar for Zion I & The Grouch. So from my experience, if you have a hip hop movement & you can't flip 50 tickets to a show with an international headliner...the scam is your career. Quit that rap shit if you can't flip 50 tickets in your hometown...real talk.

    I know a thousand rappers, all I'm doing is thinning the herd. I don't want every rapper in the DMV on my show only the ones who are confident in their movements.

    "It is sad that a lot of gullible (and probably young) artists are going to get burned. Hopefully they will "charge this one to the game" and not be deterred from investing further in their careers."

    You're crazy, every young artist on this show will benefit the fuck out of knowing me & working with me. I do this shit everyday...

    #1vsM

  • http://www.Forthedmvonly.com Judah

    This is pure comedy!!!! Pay to play will never die. Its the way of the world we live in. Sometimes you gotta pay to play and get JERKED a time or two to NOT pay to play anymore. Salute tho!

    Create your own shows and fanbase and not have to worry
    bout this situation.

  • http://www.Forthedmvonly.com Judah

    Oh.....one more thing. I usually notice that promoters that utilize the "pay to play" idea usually dont have the Capital(MONEY) themselves to book the artist, lock in the venue and dont have network and resources to promote the event.

    So the Pay to Play way is thier way or throwing thier events.

    Right or wrong depends on the person and how u view it. Half empty half full.

    BUT I WOULD PAY TO PLAY FOR A DAMN THING..Hahahahahhahahahahhahahaahahhaha

    Pure comedy!

  • http://www.Forthedmvonly.com Judah

    Pre-paid Legal

  • http://www.Forthedmvonly.com Judah

    Cell Phone Pyramid Schemes

    Hahhaahhahahahahahhaha

  • http://www.Forthedmvonly.com Judah

    Insurance- You pay monthly JUST In CASE something happens. And then when nothing happens.......YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WASTED ALL THAT MONEY.

    Pwhahahahhahahahahhahahahahahah America

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    thank you for opinion Judah. please risk thousands of dollars throwing a show that you're not performing on and walk in my shoes before you make easy judgements from the sideline. imma get my shows done by any means necessary. call it what you want... doesn't bother me at all. at the end of the day, if there were more of me, this scene would be more active... #1vsM

  • DCSuperSid

    Tyrone, in today's economic climate, you're not going to find too many local artists who can sell 50 tickets.

    Your rationale is flawed on two main points. You say if the artist can't sell 50 tickets it's their fault and they need to get out of the game?

    And you also keep implying that the success of your show will validate your methods. Your show may very well be successful. You have stated numerous times that you are an established and experienced promoter. But those dudes who can't sell those tickets are still getting scammed.

  • http://www.konshens.com/soulqemistry.html Dwayne

    i try to stay nuetral on these subjects...mainly because i really dont give a damn what any artist, venue or promoter do to sustain themselves...i'm very much a "to each is own" type of guy. however, if the onus is put on the artist to sell tickets because they SHOULD have a network of people to sell to, then just the same the promoter SHOULD have a network of people to sell to if they call themselves a promoter (and Tyrone, dont get defensive on this one 'cause i'm talking in general and not directly about you and this article...i know your work and what you put in to this DC RAP game).

    thats why i maintain that if you select artist that you know are good and have a following, then if promoted correctly (no matter WHO does the actual promoting...the artist vs the promoter) the event SHOULD be successful without the tactic of making them pay upfront. EVERY business have RISK involved. EVERY genre of music have shows. what i don't understand is how this have seem to be so prevalent in the rap/hip hop game in particular???

    thats why i always bring it back down to the consumers and the people who SHOULD be coming out to support these shows and these venues. IF promoters were taking time to create better shows by putting on quality artists and not one's who only qualification is having enough money to on the show, then maybe people wold enjoy them more and come back. every business is sustained on REPEAT business. once you build the BRAND that QUALITY artists are gonna be on a show, the you will see the QUANTITY of people you want and expect without these tactics.

    again, the people getting "scammed" is the audience. they have have sit through 5 acts of artists they had no intention of seeing or even know, JUST so they could see the ONE artist they came to support or bought a ticket from? thats the REAL tragedy to these types of shows to me! and thats EXACTLY why i don't frequent alot of open mics or shows like this. i'll do it just to keep my ear out for something new, but to have to sit through all the other bullshit artist along the way is too fucking exhausting for me...and i usually have a reason to be there...what about your average joe music lover? you think they WANT to spend their money for that?

    so the focus should not be on ending this practice...the focus should be on how we can come together...pull our resources to have the capital to have a "headliner"...and then pool our resources to have the network to reach out to more than just the circle of people in our lil worlds that we THINK is so grand and far reaching. THEN we will see the numbers of people coming out...THEN you will have shows that have artist based on TALENT and that you KNOW people will ENJOY and want to see, even if they never heard of that person before they paid that admission at the door.

    thats how people who support "other" genres do it...if people in this city stop trying to be the next "kingpin" of the city then we can have the COALITION we need to have exactly what we all want...THATS what NEEDS to come from this article...not more divisiveness about a practice that will never go away as long as ther are no other options...PERIOD!

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    the more i think about it Judah... i don't like your point at all. you are a producer, you can charge upfront for beats...it's the same thing i'm doing. if you listen to your own logic you would never charge for beats & you would only make money off the back end of the finished song

    "you're not going to find too many local artists who can sell 50 tickets." - DC Super Sid

    again, you underestimate the hip hop scene. i don't need to find "too many", just need the few for my shows... i have them on deck... no worries.

    "thats why i maintain that if you select artist that you know are good and have a following" - Dwayne

    hey Dwayne... mark my words... I WILL NEVER EVER THROW A SHOW AND JUST PICK ARTISTS TO OPEN. that's why it's a small circle of artists who get favoritism on every show. the people who will grind and put in work are the people who will fuck with shit the way i do it...

    the audience isn't getting screwed... if 50 people are coming to see FOE Borda Boyz & Fat Trel, they will be happy. if 50 people are coming to see Good Hood & Fat Trel they will be happy. if people are coming to see Swag Godz & Fat Trel...they will be happy.

    again... i think all of you are talking about what you don't know about. i have my shows, i have my network, i have my artists...we gonna build what we're gonna build with or without your love or help.

    i think all of you should shut that shit up personally until you go spend thousands of your own dollars & DO NOT PUT YOURSELF OR YOUR ARTISTS ON THE SHOW...then you you can talk to me. til then, y'all just blowing hot air

    #1vsM

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    and i apologize for being so defensive...i have nothing against anyone personally. i just feel like i'm being attacked without a good reason.

    there are tons of promoters out there, i'm small time... why you ain't fucking with them? why you ain't calling them out? y'all just stay at my throat...it's all good though. i can fuck wit that all day.

    #1vsM

  • The Last Jedi

    The essential problem here is the promoter is staging a skills contest whereby the 'prize' is an appearance in someone else's video. While it's very debatable whether charging $500 *for the chance* of appearing in a video is appropriate, it's certainly not ethical. In no way should this offer be confused with the conventional exhibition/promotional fees a private venue charges artists for use of a space.

    The tragedy here is such behavior passes as standard industry practice in the entertainment industry. No one among Fat Trel, Master P (the owner of Fat Trel's recording label), LIV, or the 'promoter' is risking anything as would a real entrepreneur. In fact, they're all exploiting their would-be (junior) partners. The 'producer' claims he "pre-sold" (?) 300 tickets @ $10/ticket -- near capacity of LIV, BTW -- and yet suggests it's not enough revenue to cover talent and whatever guarantee LIV charged him. Does that remotely describe a competent entrepreneur?

    In actuality the 'promoter' hasn't sold anything to anybody except the 6 suckers who've paid $500 each to hock his tickets. He offers none of them a commission or override on their sales. And he's got the audacity to claim he's building a "sustainable platform for DC rap"??

    Bruh Roc is calling for an artists strike. I'm don't have a lot of confidence in that as a solution for several reasons, including the inevitability of scabs -- artists greedy, gullible, or desperate enough for face time and cash to agree to just about any condition imaginable. A boycott might be more effective *if* fans were presented alternative venues to see artists supporting the boycott. Either way, more artists are going to have to start behaving as entrepreneurs in order for them to achieve genuine change. And that means the artists are going to have to ante up some $$$.

  • DC SuperSid

    Tyrone you ask "Why are you being attacked"? and then you said "Y'all just stay at my throat", and you say we're "Haters" because we don't agree with you??

    Let me remind you that you inserted yourself into the conversation. Head Roc's column referred to an anonymous promoter. You voluntarily made yourself the center of attention, then you complain because people are coming at you, lol

    The Last Jedi: What Tyrone really means when he says "sustainiable platform for DC rap" is actually a way for the hip-hop promoters themselves to profit. Tyrone is correct that he didn't invent the model, other promoters have used it successfully for a long time.

    It's a great for the promoters. Unfortunately it's not great for the artists. They will run around spending money for about a year - until they're broke - then the promoter will simply replace them with another act.

  • The Last Jedi

    I understood Norris' comments, DC Super Sid. As you've gone on to illustrate, the comments are just empty rhetoric. An industry business model structured upon inuring one's self at the expense of partners and consumers isn't sustainable.

  • http://frostgiantkills.com Frost Giant

    To ned way above, no, DC Hardcore did not involve Ian MacKaye shilling tickets to Teen Idles gigs.

    Pay to play is a joke, and I notice that it's far more rampant in hip hop and metal than anywhere else. Yeah, you can say that if someone can't flip 50 tickets then they don't deserve to be on stage, but what about all the people who buy their own tickets and give them away? Think it doesn't happen or do the promoters just not care because they got the money? If an artist can draw 50 heads and you know they can, there's no reason to make them sell tickets, their name on the flyer will bring in those heads.

    Now, the lament of the promoter who wants us, the artists, to share their costs... really? Are you going to share mine? I need a new guitar, Mr. Promoter, kick in a couple hundred. It will benefit you when we sound better on stage. How about a van, Mr. Promoter, so we can extend our reach and play in other markets? It will benefit you next time you book us because we will be better known. How about you kick in $$$$ for recording costs? We could use a video too. Share the cost with us, right? That's what you are asking us to do while promising these absurd pie-in-the-sky prizes.

    Yeah, artists may not be guaranteed a pay day, and I've done my share of free gigs, intentionally and unintentionally, but I will never do the promoter's job and hustle tickets and give you money so I can do my thing. I'll busk on a streetcorner with a guitar case open for donations before I give someone my hard-earned money to play a ten or twenty minute slot- and likely not even a good one, but opening just as the doors are letting in. Predatory bullshit, needs to stop.

  • http://www.konshens.com/soulqemistry.html Dwayne

    Ty, first of all, me and Konshens HAVE spent THOUSANDS of our own money to give artists a platform to perform! so, don't talk to me about what i do and don't know about. secondly, i prefaced my coments by saying that i'm NOT attacking you but that i was speaking in GENERAL terms about the practice of pay-to-play. and like i said, if its work for some then that's coll for THEM...all i'm saying is that "I" don't agree with the practice, nor would i succumb to it for any purpose...even if it do reduce the financial risk of the promoter. maybe your defense of the subject so feverishly is because deep down inside you know it's not right, but its an option. an option you chose to be a part of of for the purpose of creating an opportunity that fits the needs of whoever is in the position to use that opportunity. and for that, if nothing else, i commend you actually! i give anyone props who can create an opportunity for people to shine...but sometimes the means doesn't always justify the means TO ME (my very personal opinion that has absolutely nothing to do with you and/or this article in particular).

    when its all said and done...do what you do homie...i'm not mad at how anybody makes there bread and how they butter it. and it may be true that people will come and enjoy the entire show no matter who is on it...again, what i'm saying is that my experience with that has not always been good...not saying everytime was bad or horrible, just not what gets me to buy a ticket generally.

    i would be the first to say that nobody SHOULD be coming down on you in particular homie. i've been faced with this as an option before as well...i could have very easily been doing shows of this nature for years...but "I" choose not to. nothing wrong with it from a promoter stand point...and its nothing "wrong" with it from the standpoint of the artists who choose to use this opportunity...'cause in the end everyone on that level is getting what they want out the deal. my personal belief stills comes down to what quality of an experience are giving the very people you are doing all of this for???!!! feel me? or maybe you don't feel me...and its cool if you don't see it from that aspect OR if your experience has been different and the crowd you frequent don't have an issue with it, then cool...its all good...keep doing whatever works for you and your folks dawg.

  • http://www.konshens.com/soulqemistry.html Dwayne

    Ty, first of all, me and Konshens HAVE spent THOUSANDS of our own money to give artists a platform to perform! so, don't talk to me about what i do and don't know about. secondly, i prefaced my comments by saying that i'm NOT attacking you but that i was speaking in GENERAL terms about the practice of pay-to-play. and like i said, if it work for some then that's cool for THEM...all i'm saying is that "I" don't agree with the practice, nor would i succumb to it for any purpose...even if it do reduce the financial risk of the promoter.

    maybe your defense of the subject so feverishly is because deep down inside you know it's not right, but its an option. an option you chose to be a part of of for the purpose of creating an opportunity that fits the needs of whoever is in the position to use that opportunity. and for that, if nothing else, i commend you actually! i give anyone props who can create an opportunity for people to shine...but sometimes the means doesn't always justify the end TO ME (my very personal opinion that has absolutely nothing to do with you and/or this article in particular).

    when its all said and done...do what you do homie...i'm not mad at how anybody makes their bread and how they butter it. and it may be true that people will come and enjoy the entire show no matter who is on it...again, what i'm saying is that MY experience with that has not always been good...not saying every time was bad or horrible, just not what gets me to buy a ticket generally.

    i would be the first to say that nobody SHOULD be coming down on you in particular homie. i've been faced with this as an option before as well...i could have very easily been doing shows of this nature for years...but "I" choose not to. nothing wrong with it from a promoter stand point...and its nothing "wrong" with it from the standpoint of the artists who choose to use this opportunity...'cause in the end everyone on that level is getting what they want out the deal. my personal belief stills comes down to what quality of the experience you are giving to the very people you are doing all of this for???!!! feel me? or maybe you don't feel me...and its cool if you don't see it from that aspect OR if your experience has been different and the crowd you frequent don't have an issue with it, then cool...its all good...keep doing whatever works for you and your folks dawg.

  • http://www.konshens.com/soulqemistry.html Dwayne

    if you really read what i was saying Ty, i was trying to take some of the heat off of you and this particular situation that this article was written about, but then you want to turn what i'm saying into an continued attack on you. i'm being real Switzerland right now homie...trying to stay neutral and on no side of this argument that the article initially ensued. i'm on the side of everyone doing what will make all happy...and it may not always be the easiest or the less riskiest way of doing things, but sometimes you just gotta do what feels right. and to me, pay-to-play is a practice just don't "feel" right. but hey, in this business sometimes you gotta put "feelings" aside and realize that this IS a business...so do you homie...i have no beef with you or any promoter for that matter.

  • Black Roab

    I'm with the first commenter. I'm embarrassed for the writer of the editorial piece. I'm also embarrassed for all of the 35+ year-old men still trying to be nationally known rappers with still not a clue as to how to apply effective business practices to their performance career.

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    The Last Jedi, i get what you're saying... but you don't get what i'm doing. my model isn't about the promoter profiting, my model is about the entire system not losing money so that more shows can continue.

    y'all are thinking bout one show... i'm currently booking 30 shows. so sustainability is in reference to the platform. if you're familiar with the DC hip hop scene, you'd know there are few platforms....even very few open mics.

    i don't really give a fuck how any of you view what i do. i also have lost too many thousands of dollars throwing shows to listen to you idiots tell me how i'm making money & others are losing money.

    my philosophy is simple. we throw the show together...or we keep it moving. y'all are so focused on the prehistoric role definitions of promoters & artists that you can never be on my page.

    i got into throwing events becuz i am an artist. my model is fair to artists... and the artists benefit the most from my model.

    it's very easy to critique...my challenge to you all... do something...

    #1vsM

  • http://dcRap.com Tyrone Norris

    DC SuperSid you are not digesting my model

    "It's a great for the promoters. Unfortunately it's not great for the artists. They will run around spending money for about a year - until they're broke - then the promoter will simply replace them with another act."

    If I setup a show with a national act, in a licensed venue, with months of lead in time & the artist has enuff tickets to double their money... if they get burnt out, they didn't hustle enuff.

    I focus on working with hip hop groups becuz they can share the initial overhead & it's much easier for them to flip their tickets & make their money back.

    When more people start adopting my mindset & start losing yours, the scene will really learn about INDEPENDENCE!

    Y'all act like these rappers are 12 years old and not adults with lives, careers, & responsibilities. If i was doing like these other promoters & selling JUST STAGE TIME, your arguments would be valid.

    Y'all are lunching every time you say anything along the lines of the promoter profiting & the artist getting screwed. Either do some math or stop talking out your ass!

    & DC Super Sid... you're writing articles in the Examiner about events where promoters are charging artists to perform but you're not talking down on those promoters... you're promoting their events for them!

    There are tons of promoters who don't get a fuck about the artists, I know plenty of them. That doesn't represent me...I have always put on for my city and gone the extra mile for artists. The rappers support what i do, all the negative feedback comes from the peanut gallery.

    #1vsM

  • Charles

    I guess I am in the peanut gallery here. And maybe that is because all I know of you (Tyrone) is that you have taken other peoples shows and put your name on their flyer to present it as your show. So maybe you ARE doing a good thing, but your bad rep precedes you. Now, as far as you saying if a rap group doesn't have such and such number of fans, or the capital to invest in their careers you don't want to work with them anyway, that can be flipped back to you sir. I f you don't have the capital or promotional backing to put the show on yourself, why should they want to work with you?

  • The Last Jedi

    For someone who claims not to give a f*ck about the opinions of others, Tyrone, you're certainly spending a lot of time showing otherwise.

    What you're doing is easily understood. It ain't physics. On the one hand, you're charging artists a grand to enter your contest. I have no problem with charging entry fees in principle, but $1,000? On the other hand, you 'ask' all contestants to sell tickets on your behalf and offer them no compensation. They assume your risk but get none of the gate? That's beyond foul.

    Nothing sustainable can result from a straight pimp move like your events. I'm sure there is no shortage of tricks out here for you to hustle out of $1,000. Then again... you're here claiming you've been losing money to date doing things your way. It turns out you're not even a competent pimp!

    As much as many artists need to come to grips with the fact they're in a business and as businesspeople they're responsible for heeding various (legit) business practices, you could learn several things from many of the posters to this thread. You might surprise yourself by actually creating something sustainable.

  • Kris

    This SCAM sounds like its from @DCrap ... He is always trying to hustle artists out of their money and not helping them.

  • DC SuperSid

    For the record, I don't have a problem with promoters charging artists $10 or $20 to perform for an open mic or showcase. In fact, if you've read anything I written in the past about this topic, or even in this thread, I've never opposed artists paying a "reasonable" fee. But what Tyrone is doing is way over the top. The artists aren't "partners" they are "victims".

  • Mikeyprs

    No matter what way you cut it mate(Tyrone), You've essentially asked a performer/artist to hand over money (in one way shape or form) in the exchange of stage time/performance slot correct?

    Therefore you are a P2P Promoter, simple as that.

    You moan about dropping thousands of $$$$ on putting a show together... Well no-one ever told you to did they? no one put a fucking gun to your head and threaten to pull the trigger if you didn't use this "business modal".

    A Promoter, promotes... funnily enough your job title is in the fucking name. the artist is the talent... not you it's down to you to ensure the artist gets the right exposure on the right show at the right venue at the right time... given that part of your job is also Marketing... ok given that the Artist will also need to market themselves to their audience and in anyway shape or form they can but when it comes to a show, you need to be the driving force behind the marketing the artist just helps it along.

    Regardless Fella, either suck it up and stop sounding like a broken record or jack it in and get a 9-5 it's that simple.

  • Mike

    Mikeyprs you are contradicting yourself. You just said
    "no one put a fucking gun to your head and threaten to pull the trigger if you didn't use this "business modal"

    Well noone put a gun to the rappers head and said they had to participate. If a rapper wants to do it let them do it, yall some hatin dudes

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