In terms of concerts and festivals, music is having a monumental year. Fans are showing up in large numbers and spending more than ever before. Since 2023 began, the live performance industry has been on a hot streak, on track to exceed a record-setting $25B in global live music ticket sales. And according to the 1Q 2023 reports from Live Nation, the demand for live music is “unprecedented” and the #1 leisure activity that consumers are spending more money on.
Hip-hop, in its 50-year anniversary, is seeing the same kind of success for today’s and yesterday’s acts. Kendrick Lamar’s Big Steppers Tour is still ongoing and already the highest grossing hip-hop tour of all time. Just a few days ago, Drake and 21 Savage set the record for the highest grossing single performance. Two decades after his classic debut, 50 Cent is still doing huge numbers for his worldwide tour, selling over 800,000 tickets in only a week. Frankly, live music is the genre’s biggest cash cow and rappers are well aware of it. Some of them are even tailoring some of their newest sounds to accommodate the live experience.
But as rap reaches a new peak in live music, the potential for a decline begins to increase. One thing’s for sure, two things for certain: there have been way too many concerts and festivals this year. To a point where it’s become overwhelming. Ticket prices are insane, reseller bots are menaces to society, and there’s too many lineups and tours being announced simultaneously. Artists that haven’t hit the road since pre-pandemic times are touring with those who’ve been on the road nonstop since COVID restrictions were lifted. Rolling Loud is now the world’s biggest hip-hop festival for good reasons. But with their rapid global expansion, it feels like there’s one every other month.
The oversaturation is causing fans to be more selective than ever when trying to catch performances. Especially for a genre whose performances tend to consist of the same elements. Rappers are now faced with the challenge of innovating their shows to assure their following stays consistent with their ticket sales before show and festival cancellations continue to escalate. So we have three tips for rappers looking to hit the road or festival stages going forward.
- Don’t Wear the Novelty of Your Presence Too Thin
An artist can upgrade their stage design, lineup, or even their surprise appearances. But if they’re performing too many times at once, it will be hard to maintain their audience with the same routine or set list. By all means, secure the bag, but as an artist, please preserve some mystique. As ticket prices keep rising and more artists continue to announce tours simultaneously, buyers are less likely to choose the rapper that’s been on every festival and tour roster since everyone’s been back outside. If you’re an artist, then you know that each aspect of pursuing musical longevity is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your breaks and give yourself time to reinvent your sound. The most successful live performers in hip-hop today are the ones taking advantage of their “eras”.
- Make Your Performance as Interactive as Possible
Almost a decade later, Childish Gambino’s Deep Web tour and Drake & Lil Wayne’s 2014 summer joint tour are two of the most innovative shows we’ve ever seen. By utilizing live fan interaction during their tour stops, they built even more anticipation for attendees looking to immerse themselves into the “experience”. Since then, it’s been very few efforts to enhance live fan interaction and engagement using today’s technology. And there’s so much potential in incorporating it into the show. Especially when it aligns with the technology everyone already has in their pockets.
— It’s T As In… (@TT_FromMTV3) August 9, 2023
- Make an Album Specifically to Debut on Your Next Tour
Kanye West’s Donda listening parties gave music a peek into the future of presenting the live experience. Instead of touring to support their new album, let’s start seeing more unheard albums going on tour. For artists with strong fanbases, this is a potential success waiting to happen. Imagine Tyler, the Creator ending his musical hiatus with a surprise tour announcement and choosing to play a brand new album front to back instead of their medley of hits. Or if Playboi Carti did special shows for fans, dedicating entire set lists to all of his best song leaks. And the only way to hear any of it is at their concerts or festival sets. The shows, like the album itself, would take on a life of its own as a must-see live music experience.