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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Fan is Not a Four Letter Word
Monday, June 13, 2011

Some amazing things happened at Sketch Tha Cataclysm’s most recent show at the Acoustic Cafe in Bridgeport, CT, but they didn’t just happen on the stage. Yes, the show put on by Sketch, Duece Bug, Ciph Diggy and Rabbi Darkside was fantastic, especially Rabbi D’s live programming of a beat using his beatbox skills, an iPhone, and a sampler, but one of the most memorable moments happened in a corner of the Acoustic after Rabbi D had just finished up his set. A fan, Jason “J-Burnz” Bernstein, approached him to compliment him on his set and find out what he had for sale. A package was put together, Rabbi D quoted him a price, and Bernstein then gave him more than the quoted price, saying the extra was “for underground hip-hop.”

It was an act that’s rarely seen in an age when people happily download everything that they can find for free. Bernstein, however, sees the importance of paying for an artist’s work. “Artists that travel to the next state over to share their vibe means a lot,” he says, adding “people need to support local underground hip hop. Whether they do it with cash or by going to more shows, it all matters, and it all makes a difference.”

The moral of the story is pretty clear – fan is not a four letter word. Artists need our support.

A lot of people convince themselves that they show support in other ways, for instance, by “liking” an artist’s Facebook page. Liking a Facebook page isn’t enough, though. An artist can have a million likes, but if none of those likes turn into sales what you end up with is an artist with faux popularity. Odd Future is a perfect example of this. The shock rap group released a ton of free music online, generated a huge buzz, but a week after lead rapper Tyler the Creator’s album debuted at number five on the Billboard album chart it dropped 80% in sales. What this shows us is people love him as long as they don’t have to pay for anything he does. In reality, that’s not loving an artist at all.

A drug dealer will sometimes give a person the first hit for free, knowing a customer will be back for more, at which point the dealer will charge them the going rate. The problem right now with music is there are so many people giving away that first hit for free that many listeners feel there’s no need to ever pay for anything. This has spiraled out of control to the point where artists are having a hard time generating any sort of a buzz if they DON’T give away their music. A line needs to be drawn, and it needs to be drawn by the fans. The fans are the ones with all the power in this situation. Now more than ever, with their dollar they can choose which artists continue on and which don’t. I’m not saying we have to go out of our way to pay our favorite artists’ rent, but if you like someone’s music, showing your appreciation by paying to go to a show, or purchasing an album, is important if we want them to continue with their careers.

For my home state of CT, another end result of showing support is that it leaves the artists who perform here with a positive feeling regarding performing in Connecticut. Even if a crowd is small, a handful of album, or t-shirt, sales can turn a sparsely attended show into something the artist saw a financial gain from. For an artist the math is simple - if performing in CT generates a profit, drawing more people the next time around will lead to an even bigger payday. Do you know what bigger paydays for artists means for the hip-hop fan base in the state? More artists coming to Connecticut to perform. This is something we constantly struggle with as a state as many tours simply drive right through us as they go from New York City to Boston.

If you enjoy an artist’s music, enjoyed their performance, and would like to see them come back and perhaps spread the word to other artists about how your town or city is a great place to perform, all you have to do is take ten of the dollars you were going to spend on alcohol and purchase an album instead. You’ll be supporting an artist you like, helping the state become known as an artist friendly place, and, quite frankly, you’ll probably get home a little safer if you skipped those last two drinks anyway. It’s a win-win-win situation, but it’s up to us, as fans, to embrace that idea of being a fan, and not think of the term as a four letter word.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:20 AM  
  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Tah Phrum Duh Bush said…

    On the real! This has happened to me a few times. There are still people who believe in what we do. This past weekend I had a show at a joint in Central Islip, Long Island. Cat purchased a CD and a Tee and was looking to scoop up my album that was sold out as well. He was so down for what he believed in. That is what keeps me in the game. Thanks so much for putting this article up fam!

  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Othello said…

    Especially with gas prices jacked up over $4 a gallon, supporting artists when they come out to rock Is essential to keeping a scene going and for allowing artists to be able to bring their music to a larger audience. On the artist side, people could learn a lot from artists like Tah, who do a great job of marketing themselves and their brand on stage.

    People are more likely to support when the product is dope and presented well to them. I'm definitely guilty of not having mercy available at some shows when people wanted to support, which is just not good business.

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