We’ve spent quite a bit of time comparing rap and EDM markets, and the next indicator that these two worlds have more similarities than most will admit to is the new trend of headliners being supported in venues by people who are paying for the opportunity. London’s Tendai explains that this is a very real situation in today’s dance clubs, and that it can work in two ways. An opener can either pay a cash sum for the opportunity, or promise to sell a certain amount of tickets, of which that act would get no percentage of. A message from a promoter offering Tendai this opportunity was uploaded to mirror his statement:
This particular instance was one that used the classic bait and switch method. A promoter contacted a performer and offered a slot for a party, and an interested DJ was offered a promotional position where they had to make a deposit in order to lock their time slot, and that deposit was only to be paid back once the performer sold a certain amount of tickets. Asking DJs to pay for their slot results in a lineup that’s filled with those that have the deepest pockets, not those that have deepest crates. This is what happens when investors set the price, though. There’s little left for the rest of the market, and everyone fights over the crumbs.
It’s also a reminder that things aren’t always what they seem, and could be an indicator for things to come. When the wrong people are involved in a scene, bottom feeders that have no business in the business and no concept of how their actions affect the longevity of the art will do anything to make a quick buck. I’ve seen photographers shoot for free and kids sell tickets or “invite all” on Facebook in exchange for the equivalent of a $20 ticket, and it’s completely wrong. It sets a fucked up standard, and devalues the art.
As we begin to talk more about the importance of Facebook likes, SoundCloud plays, and witter followers, this all ties together. In a perfect world, a DJ would get booked for their DJ skills, would make enough money from shows to hire a team to manage their content, and a promoter would bring a crowd that fits a lineup that has earned their spot with skill. This isn’t the case though, and those that look like they’re popular are getting booked over incredible musicians. Fair-weathered fans that don’t question the structure of the lineups or the acts booked are also to blame, and nobody is talking about how the entire system can be rigged.
What can we do to change this? Keep calling people out that are doing shady business. Keep pushing to see if SoundCloud will do anything to change how easily fake plays can be purchased. Continue to send upset messages about how Facebook has killed their fan pages with paid promotions. Support your local DJs and independent promoters. Spread your money around to different venues. Stop putting in work for venues for free. And realize that anyone doing anything “for the love” is taking food off of someone’s plate.