Wiz Khalifa’s Under The Influence Tour Came Together Like A Puzzle

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    The daunting task of masterfully constructing a hip-hop tour takes time and precision. For The Agency Group's seasoned booking agent Peter Schwartz, however, it's just another day at the office. With an astute resume that includes handling bookings for Wiz Khalifa, Macklemore, Big Boi, A$AP Rocky and Method Man, to name a few, Schwartz knows what it takes to assemble a tour. And after nearly 20 years in the industry, the creation of Wiz Khalifa's Under The Influence Tour in 2012 has become one of his biggest recurring accomplishments, with his strong-minded business acumen leaving him the envy of many agents in the business.<br /><br />Since the tour's inception, Schwartz has guided the number of shows on the Under The Influence Tour from an initial 10 two years ago to 20 last year, and with 22 dates on deck for this summer, the tour just keeps on growing, bringing a wide-ranging lineup for every type of hip-hop fan each time they hit the road. For <a title="tour" href="http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2014/04/tyga-ty-dolla-ign-rich-homie-quan-will-join-wiz-khalifa-new-tour/" target="_blank">the third installment of the tour</a>, Schwartz has enlisted the likes of Tyga, Jeezy, Rich Homie Quan, Sage The Gemini, Ty Dolla $ign, Iamsu! and Mack Wilds alongside headliner Khalifa (the lineup and tour dates can be found <a title="wiz" href="http://www.xxlmag.com/news/2014/04/tyga-ty-dolla-ign-rich-homie-quan-will-join-wiz-khalifa-new-tour/" target="_blank">here</a>).<br /><br />With this year serving as the tour's biggest undertaking to date, there’s plenty to suggest that the Under The Influence Tour will topple the attendance and revenue numbers from previous years. <em>XXL </em>spoke to Schwartz, who gave an in-depth look into how this tour came together, his criteria for artists seeking to make his bill, his most difficult challenge and which artists he sees with the biggest potential to break out after this tour. —<a title="carl" href="https://twitter.com/TheRealCL24" target="_blank"><em>Carl Lamarre</em></a>
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    <strong><em>XXL</em>: You've watched Wiz's Under The Influence Tour double in numbers of attendees since its inception in 2012. How have you achieved those massive jumps?</strong><br /><strong>Peter Schwartz:</strong> Well, I mean, the tour itself, we doubled the number of shows. So that was the real step. And of course, we did have an increase in the turnout at the same time. The first year was 10 shows. The second year was 20. And this year, we’ll have 22 shows.<br /><br />I think it’s growing because it’s a great brand. Wiz, he really brings out an incredible show, and he has managed to put together a really great lineup of talent each summer that the kids want to see. There aren’t many packages of any others out there like this that are on the road, especially ones with a reasonable ticket price. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve had such great success. It’s that it’s a very affordable show for the fans. You could buy a lawn ticket for $20. So that’s an incredible list of talent you get to see for that much money. It’s really a full evening and night of music. It’s like you’re really going to see a festival.
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    <strong>What made you go for artists like Rich Homie Quan and a Tyga this year?</strong><br />When we start out planning the preparation for the tour and then looking at what artists to go after—or we’d really like to have—there’s such a broad or big list that comes together for all the different possibilities. And then, it sort of does come together like a puzzle. And with certain artists, you know, you have to go through different variables with the artists in terms of availability, interests or just, you know, negotiating the deal. And there are different factors as to who we end up getting.<br /><br />So, as you start to craft your wish list, some things come together and some don’t. And the ones that do start to develop a certain pattern. I do feel like the first two years it was a little bit more of a mixed bag in terms of the different styles, I think which is what you were alluding to. It was a little bit of, you know, one act was a little bit radio style, one act is a little bit more <em>Pitchfork</em> style, alternative. In this case, it did sort of come together as what’s more of a chart radio-type of lineup. But I think that [the tour] started putting together some really good artists and stacking something a little stronger than what we’ve had in the past.
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    <strong>When trying to create a tour of this magnitude, how much time and preparation goes into making this event come to fruition?</strong><br />We started working on this tour back in November. So it’s been about six months from when we started planning until the actual announcement launched this week.<br /><br /><strong>So dating back to 2012, the premiere tour, which tour was the most difficult as far as trying to put together and why?</strong><br />To put together? In terms of lineup, I think the first one was the easiest. And, ironically, it gets more challenging by the year, even though the tour is that much better and stronger every year.<br /><br /><strong>What are the deciding variables in the decision process when picking certain artists to be a part of the tour’s lineup?</strong><br />We start with a big list, and then we start working through it. Obviously, Wiz helms his tour. So to get his take, of course, and find out what he likes, what he’s feeling and what will make for a great package. There’s an entire team of people—management, promoters and everybody involved—who kind of weigh in different thoughts. And when we look at artists, obviously we look at ones who sell tickets. That’s a huge variable. That’s what we’re trying to do here of course; sell out these shows if we can. So we’re looking for good ticket sellers.<br /><br />We want great live performers. We’re looking for some chemistry, of course, between whomever we’re putting together so it does have a good flow and the pieces all fit in the puzzle. Obviously if an artist has big record sales, or they’re an artist with a lot of radio play. Or maybe, it’s someone who doesn’t have a big radio [presence], but they have a really big social media presence. So it’s a really wide variety of different things that come together. We’re looking for artists that the people are going to like and that Wiz and everyone involved likes.
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    <strong>Are there differences in constructing a hip-hop tour from a rock and pop tour?</strong><br />They’re probably a little more challenging. I would think a rap tour is a little more challenging.<br /><br /><strong>How so?</strong><br />Just dealing with everyone’s views and opinions. There are definitely artists who always want the biggest look or the best spot. You know, I think it’s a challenge finding the right positioning and getting the artists to play in a certain order where they’re comfortable with the artists around them. Many artists feel that they’re bigger than they are, and they all want the best spot, which is completely understandable because everyone is looking for the best position they can get. So managing that is challenging.<br /><br /><strong>You have a pretty stacked resume ranging from Wiz and Macklemore to Big Boi and A$AP Rocky. From a fan perspective, which artist did you enjoy working with and watching perform on tour the most?</strong><br />Ah, that could get me in a lot of trouble. [<em>Laughs</em>] It’s a tough question. I really hate to sound like a politician, but I really like seeing them all. I mean, there’s something about, to me, being at the show and seeing it all come together. And sometimes, in a way, I feel like I can get equal gratification from seeing an incredible show from, let’s say, an Irving Plaza—which has a housing capacity—and of course there’s a whole other magic when I look at an Under The Influence Tour set and see Wiz performing in front of 25,000 people.<br /><br />You see the incredible work [Wiz] puts in and the reaction from the fans. Just that energy, I feel like I can get that with so many of my clients. Even on the tour last year, you watched Rocky’s set, and it’s like, “Wow!” I watch Wiz’s set, and I’m going, “Wow!” And then, it could be a much smaller show and I get that same vibe. You know, one thing that I’ll say that I do feel about my roster as a whole is that they really are all great live performers.
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    <strong>Which artist on the Under The Influence lineup do you feel has the potential to break out because of this tour?</strong><br />I think Ty Dolla $ign. He’s breaking out right now, for sure already. He’s doing phenomenally, and we have him headlining a tour in May of his own. I also think Mack Wilds. He’s not the highest on the bill, but I feel like he’s got an incredible live show. His first album got a Grammy nomination. It got recognized, and I feel like he’s one of those artists that with the next album or two, I think he’s really going to shock people and take off. So, those are probably two in terms of younger artists that I think will take off.<br /><br /><strong>This is year three for the Under The Influence Tour, and a lot of people believe this tour can have longevity. Speaking from a long-term perspective, how much bigger can this tour possibly get?</strong><br />That’s a good question. I think a goal of ours and Wiz’s in particular is to keep trying to grow it and get it bigger. We’re doing very strong business in these amphitheaters, which are quite large. I think, ultimately, it would be great if we could sell them all out and not leave an extra ticket out there. I think that would be exciting.<br /><br />These are—besides going to stadiums—the biggest venues in the country. I think a way it could get bigger is if, you know, again, adding more market, because we did last year 20 and 22 this year. But we have changed some of the locations. We don’t repeat performing in every one of the same markets. So this year, we’re trying Cleveland, Milwaukee and St.Louis. We’re going back to Camden; the Philadelphia market, which we did not do last summer. We’re adding in Virginia Beach this year. Also, Scranton, Penn. So we are expanding, in terms of hitting new markets. So I think we could not only try to really blow out the venues from the following years, but also, maybe it could turn into 30 amphitheaters. And then, we could hit some more markets and we could grow it that way. And, of course, try to add some bigger artists as well, keep the size and look of it, and get bigger every time. That’s our hope.

Previously: Tyga, Ty Dolla $ign, Rich Homie Quan And More Will Join Wiz Khalifa For New Tour
Peter Schwartz: Hip-Hop’s Booking Agent [OUTTAKES FROM JUNE 2011 ISSUE]
Wiz Khalifa Spends A Day In The Hood In “We Dem Boyz” Video