The Live Show Is Not Dead

Let’s keep it real: if you buy albums these days you either don’t know how to find the latest DepositFile link for it, downloaded the album and still felt the need to cop a hard copy or still use a Discman with the cassette adapter in your car. Whatever your reason, chances are that your purchase is not going to fill that artists’ pockets after the costs of the album’s actual production effectively take any and every lucrative aspect of it from the rapper.

For artists to still complain that money is getting taken out of their pockets each time their album is showcased on your favorite messageboard is preposterous. If the person swacked it online, they weren’t going to buy the album in the first place. Premature leaks and cyber-bootlegging are about as commonplace as overpriced alcohol and digital cameras at a show. Every rapper faces it, most can’t find ways to overcome it, but all still take the time out of their so-called busy schedules to bitch about it.

Rappers not moving units shouldn’t throw the blame on the cheapskates of the hip hop world. Instead, more should use these on-the-surface hindrances to their advantage. When I spoke at a panel in Washington, DC, last month, producer-on-the-mic Oddisee spoke on how free music has provided new and more opportunities, including work with other artists of different genres of music or in a different country. During the blitzkrieg of promotional interviews Jay-Z seemed almost ecstatic when The Blueprint 3 leaked a week prior to its release, claiming that he enjoys it when people get to listen to it before actually buying it.

I think Shawn’s losing it a little with that statement.

Perhaps the most lucrative aspect of hip hop is the live show. Regardless of the too-short guest lists and Flip Cam footage that permeates throughout the Internets, there’s really no way to pilfer the live performance (unless you’re Carlos Mencia). After attending Nas and Damian Marley’s concert the other day, I’ve realized that nothing really compares to the energy of a well-executed concert. While labels have caught on to that and will only offer 360 deals that will effectively rape even the signee’s mother, touring is still essentially the best way of keeping those mortgage payments in check for rappers, particularly when their album doesn’t sell. Peep last year’s Freshmen from this very site’s print equivalent: none of their respective albums – or at least those that actually came out with an album – cracked the gold plateau, yet they’ve managed to stay relevant by being on the road like Bill Bixby ever since.

Except Ace Hood. But then again, nobody really cared about him in the first place.

Rapster community, just do us listeners all a favor and find other ways to make money. Barking at the world that leaks are killing your financial status will only make us continue to not buy your stuff. That’s word to the four albums I’ve loaded into the iPod in the past 24 hours already.

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  • latino heat

    i agree. in the last 2 months i have went to see Jay-Z, Kidz In The Hall and Devin The Dude. and next week i’m going to see Nas and Reflection Eternal. i said the same thing on this site a few months ago. nothing can match the energy of a live hip hop show, so go out there and support.

    although i did download all the artists albums i mentioned, legally. the Zune Pass is a beautiful thing. $15 a month, download all you want. without having to worry about the RIAA knocking on my door.

  • Kingp

    What’s more justified: an artist bitching that you didn’t buy it, or you bitching if you can’t get it for free.

    The live show isn’t dead. But people invest in musicians that sell the most records because money can be made off of them. Even if an artist only made 10 dollars more if he sold 300k in a week as a opposed to 85k, it would still make a world of difference to their career.

  • king kooper

    you’re bugging, music costs money to make, if you want to listen to it, buy it.

    • Danny Dee

      The cost of producing/creating music is almost zero now.

      Mac’s come preloaded with Garage Band and/or you can bootleg any program like Protools or Cubase.

      We live in an Attention Based economy now, if you aren’t making ur music widely available for free…kill yourself.

  • LV

    *dead* @ that Ace Hood comment.

    And hell yeah. Zune pass is the shit (though I still buy albums.. sometimes)..

  • epinz

    *shots fired* i c the whole NMC has alil somethin to say about lupe these days!!!!!

    i agree wit u though homie. i went to the little brother show last week and the shit was fires. they my favorite group and seein them live only made me like them more. shit, i went and copped another coppy of leftback just so they could sign the shit. and that shit is completely outa charicter for me. it was acually the first show i ever been to. i cant see myslef goin to any other shows other than maybe a nas show and atcq(which will never happen) but i c how it can make a fan of the artist apreciate the music and the artist more than just listenin to a cd and watchin a youtube video.

    • latino heat

      @ epinz

      never say never about another ATCQ tour. i’ve seen them twice in the last 4 years. they did a reunion tour in ’06 and headlined RTB in ’08. they’ll be back again.

      • epinz

        @latino heat

        i would love to see them live. midnight marauders is my shit!!!!! the lb show last week was my first real rap concert and everytime they played a atcq song i fuckin lost it. if they ever do a live show in new york or the tri state area, im there.

        what up homie?

        • $yk

          e what’s up?

          Taino what it do!

          Last time I saw Tribe, Q-tip was DJ’ing on the lower east side of Manhattan.

        • epinz

          chillin homie, everythings gravy!!!

          i cant wait to see the tribe. latino got me opyomistic about seein them

        • latino heat

          @ Syk, same ol’ same, homie.

          @ e, between that new ATCQ documentary that’s coming out and Phife’s serious medical bills he has to pay now. i bet Tribe will be making their tour rounds sooner then later.

  • epinz

    i also still buy physical cds cuz i play em in the whip and cuz i like feelin like i own the shit. a cd is tangibal. i b feelin like at anytime i could lose all the music in the ipod. it just doesnt feel like i own it like a physical copy does. im not a conspiracy theroist but in the back of my mind i still b thinkin that at anytime “they” can just shut everything down. like “they” have the ultimate control over shit thats digital like music and money. physical money > debit/credit cards.

    • Lowedwn

      co-sign to the fullest

    • EmCDL

      2ndary co-sign. I still buy cds myself, and even though I usually end up uploading it on my computer and putting it on my Zune, its just good to have the actual cd on you. Even when I burn albums on my computer that I borrow from people, I’ll make a backup of it on a cd-r until I actually go out and buy the album myself (if the album is any good anyway).

  • W. J. Rice

    Co-sign, I attend around 10-20 shows a year. Which is fine for me. Once I saw Raekwon twice in the same week (release party and then an actual concert)!

  • $yk

    1/2 of these cats can’t even make a good song, what makes you think they have stage presence?

    And I agree w/epinz, if they changed the format of music, all of that iPod sh^t is dead. You gotta buy another unit and start all over.

  • Lowedwn

    The case can also be made that once someone peeps an artist’s live show they might actually feel more compelled to buy the album. I know that was the case when I saw Pac Div w/ Cudi, B.O.B. & Asher Roth @ HOB here in L.A. After the show me and the homie both felt like we had to go and cop whatever these guys had out ’cause we dug the show and their whole vibe. Now obviously they don’t have an official album out yet but you get the point. Shit, y’all know the Roots never sell major numbers on any of their albums initially, but once they tour behind that and people get an up close and personal experience with the music they wanna cop that album.

  • sup3rfr3ak

    Yo just look at tech n9ne the nigga is grindin puttin on sick ass shows. ive been to 6 shows (i think) and every one of his sets is always better than the last he just keeps on improving and bringing the hottest performances by far

  • mypopmkt

    y’all know the Roots never sell major numbers on any of their albums initially, but once they tour behind that and people get an up close and personal experience with the music they wanna cop that album.

  • caino

    l donwload albums, but if its somthing l really love etc, then l go and cop the actual CD.

    l love live gigs, l went to see KISS (yip the rock band, taking my nephew) and l gotta say some rappers should take a leaf out of their book! it was the best concert l have ever been to !!

    Some rap shows/concerts l have been to suck ! and thats stopped me buying their records……shout out to Obie Trice (maybe the worst concert l have ever been to!)

  • Danny Dee

    What everyone over 25 needs to remember is that there has been an entire generation after us that has grown up with free music.

    Napster was 10years ago and the labels still haven’t innovated.

    I say that to say, “digital natives” have no need for that tangible artifact but, studies show that having a physical product does help create demand. Look at what Freeway did with the Stimulus package.

    Your not in the business of selling plastic discs, your in the relationship business. YOu have to mobilize an entire “tribe” around similar pshycographics and add value with limited edition high value tiered experiences.

    Access > ownership

    (ie: rhapsody, spotify, zune pass, etc)

  • P. Harris

    I’ve said it before… fuck a record deal, get your name out and do shows… tax them promoters and club owners…

    Tash from Tha Alkaholics said it best:

    “Cause there’s no biz like shobiz if y’all niggaz ask me / Show money, that’s like pimpin, cause we get it tax free / Catch a check for 33, cut straight from SRC / Take it straight to any counter, cash my shit with no I.D.”