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Out Roar Against Pay To Play!

With a growing hip hop community, local artists are starting to get much more notoriety for their craft. As a way for artists to display their talent, many hip hop promoters in the surrounding cities of Boston and all throughout Mass in general are known and very popular for charging these artist to perform at local venues, bars, and clubs. This system has been around for quite some time now. It is utilized as a strategy for new artist to get more fans and sharpen their skills. Some promoters have also adopted the idea of charging artists for slots to perform with the responsibility of selling their own tickets to generate profit.


Voices from multiple local artists have been heard in regards to this. Terry Borderline being one of them states, "why should artists pay to perform when the events manager is reaching out most of the time because they favor the artist and know that the artist has the skill needed to bring a crowd to a venue.” He also mentions that it can create mistrust between the artist and promoter mainly because the promoter will never trust the artist until he/she is paid. The artist will think the promoter is incompetent because they didn't receive a sizable audience or didn't profit enough from it. This concept leaves the artists feeling like in the end the promoter is the one who always wins. This approach just seems that it is more beneficial to the promoter rather than the artist. He also believes that there are many innovative ways in which a new artist can work towards getting paid for shows. Here are some of the following: receiving grants from places like "Live Arts", or going to artist workshops and learning tips on how to profit from shows. Borderline as well as Sassie have teamed up together and since have managed to create their own movement towards putting together their own shows. They have successfully marketed themselves in ways where their shows have gradually been growing at various venues such as “2twenty2” in Boston MA, “The Jungle” in Somerville MA, and many others.

There are also selective promoters and event managers that cite things differently. Chris Hayes Founder of New England Mix-tapes has stated, "Artist that are building a name should "pay to play" and use the opportunity to market themselves and make money for themselves and if they can't sell 20-40 tickets for people to come see them perform then you should quit entirely". Chris Hayes has done numerous “pay to play” successful showcases for artist at “The Middle East Night club” in Cambridge MA, also been stated from multiple artist that it has been an “exhilarating experience” being in a legendary venue with a packed crowd.


How should artists approach looking for shows? pay to play? look for free showcases that are fully stacked with artists, or just design your own event with the cost of more marketing?


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