If you pay the slightest attention to the Philly music scene you will often hear many MC’s complain about the lack of love shown in the City of Brotherly Love. Its even more heartbreaking when they decide that New York would be the best location to continue their Hip-Hop career. Like really? Philadelphia already has an underdog complex, why make it worse by ditching your hometown for one of its biggest competitors. At least Los Angeles has a better climate. Its as if no one cares to be the solution. I mean it is easier to run than fight – I understand, but my sympathy is very short lived. I’m a woman who is more into solutions anyway.
Often times, you will go to an indie Hip-Hop show and the majority of the audience is made up of artist who are waiting to perform and their entourage that may or may not be attending the event sans cover charge. The rest of the audience tends to be only a handful of the artists’ fans.
It takes a village to raise a child and apparently it takes an entire city to revive a struggling Hip-Hop scene. It takes a collective understanding that every artist, curator, and event planner is out here trying to make and/or save a buck and that we shouldn’t try to short the next person. I would be living a very comfortable lifestyle if I had a dollar for everytime I came across someone trying to get into a party or show for free. Just because you know someone who is a part of the event, it does not mean that you are exempt from shelling out a few bucks. Please check your entitlement before you get to the door. Even better, lets not even ask the performer ahead of time – If they had free passes and wanted you to have them, they would have already been made available to you. This goes for most events – don’t assume that your relation to someone involved in the event is any more special than their relation to anyone else.
The only thing even worse than a patron trying to get into an event for free is an event planner who is not paying the artist. If you are charging $10 dollars at the door and none of your acts are getting paid, there is a huge problem with your operation. There are scores of reasons why an event planner may not break off a performer, but more often than not, that reason is based upon stupidity or straight up bullshit. If the venue is cutting into your budget, humble yourself, and pick a smaller venue. If it is the DJ that is too expensive, book someone who fits into your budget. If the most unfortunate occurs, and practically no one comes to the show, keep it a bean with the performers. The acts see how many people came through, they can guestimate the how much it costs to rent the space and equipment, therefore they know that they might not get paid. It just makes it worse when the artist has to play an involuntary game of hide-and-seek to find you and figure out if you are going to pay up. The number one piece of event coordinator advice that I have to give is, you don’t get paid until your artist get paid!
Currently, many of the health-conscious are big proponents of buying local produce. Its good for the local economy and is relevant to what your body needs since the produce is being grown in a similar climate. That same theory can be applied to supporting your local musician. When you purchase the mixtape of Sir Rapsalot from Uptown, or go to his concert, the money is going back into his pocket. Assuming that Sir Rapsalot and other musicians abide by the same practice, that money will go around full circle. Million dollar artist like Kanye are always going to have droves of fans flocking to their $100 a pop concerts. Skip the Yezzus tour and take yourself and ten friends to a show at Connie’s Ric Rac or upstairs at the Troc.
Take my advice or not. Just don’t be that guy complaining about the Hip-Hop climate in Philly and not do anything to try to change it. If that is you, you may be better off in New York.
To sum it all up here are some basic dos and don’ts when it come to support independent music in Philly.
Do pay to the musicians that you booked to perform, or at least be honest with them if and when any money issues arise
Do go to shows at small venues.
Don’t try to get into an event for free if it is not advertised as so.
Do buy local music.
Do share music of artist that you think are dope
Don’t assume that you are entitled to people sharing or supporting your music.
Do show verbal appreciation for talented artist.
Don’t stop hustling.