‘Uncommon Approach’ is a column written by Paul “Nasa” Loverro, owner of independent label Uncommon Records. With this frequent column, he gives readers an all access look at the ups and downs of running an independent Hip Hop label in this day and age. An in-depth column from the perspective of an Indie label owner. This time, part 1 of his column “New York Shitty”.
‘Uncommon Approach’ is a column written by Paul “Nasa” Loverro, owner of independent label Uncommon Records. With this frequent column, he gives readers an all access look at the ups and downs of running an independent Hip Hop label in this day and age. An in-depth column from the perspective of an Indie label owner.
You can read part 1 HERE.
2- The Death of All Ages Shows
I haven’t been to a show that wasn’t 21 and Up in quite some time. I remember going to shows at 18 in Manhattan. People that were 21 got stamped that they could drink, I didn’t, meaning I couldn’t drink. It was a good system. The Giuliani/Bloomberg era has eroded all of that and along with it the heart of any potential music scene of any kind. Everybody knows that music is for the kids. The kids may not understand what the heck they are hearing fully, but they are the most excited about it. I know I was. I’d show up early, camp out at the front of the stage and wait for the show to start. I didn’t care about drinking because I was so excited about the music, even when I hit 21 I didn’t drink at shows because I wanted to really take it in sober. Ok, I was a nerdy kid, but all of us have that inner-nerd and they usually come out of us when we’re 18. By the time you hit 21 a lot of kids have left for colleges or have just stopped listening to music (seriously, some people are very fickle, we’ve all met them). I’ve had conversations with a lot of heads that have said, the “biggest problem with the underground is the only people that listen to it are older”. That wasn’t always the case. Back in the days we’d be concerned if a club enforced a 21 and over policy because we felt it would crush turnout. Most of the fans were between 18-21 then, not the other way around. The pressure on venues to card heavily and the huge penalties they face for not doing it have created this situation and hurt turn out in NYC.
3- Artists not supporting Artists
This has two phases to it. Firstly, if I can POSSIBLY make it to a show thrown by someone I’m down with, I’m there. AND, I’m there with money in hand to pay to get in. I don’t miss many shows in New York nowadays. Despite this article, I have thrown more shows and attended more this year than any year in recent memory in New York. This is because I really want this scene to pop off again. I was there in the 90’s and saw this town when it was healthy, it breaks my heart to see the talented artists that I consider friends (not mention myself) perform for hardly anybody when they should have packed houses to rock for. These heads are really good, like really fucking good! Even the most average head here in New York will scorch most emcees that come in from out of town. I’m from New York, I’m obligated to say that.
The thing that kills me is when I get invites to shows from people I know that NEVER EVER come to my shows and then have the nerve to kill my in-box with invites to theirs. That’s some major bullshit. Not for nothing, if everybody had my attitude and supported each other here, we’d have a scene that made money and was more fun to be a part of. We’d also have enough people to fill venues with all the artists supporting each other, because at the end of the day it starts with us. The non-musician fans would follow with some dedication show by some of the artists. But it’s not like that, because a lot of times people are just plain selfish- straight up.
Secondly, what about the cats from New York that you’d consider “draws”? Back in the days you could go to shows and see more established cats and what not headline gigs with some up and coming dudes from New York opening for them. You NEVER see that shit anymore in New York. Then people wonder why scenes die. On a very serious tip, a lot of the dudes (not all) that pioneered the indie scene here in NYC in the 90’s NEVER do shows and NEVER give back to NYC anymore. Most of these cats either A) Don’t live here anymore B) NEVER rep NYC in their music or their actions and play some “anonomys home town” shit or C) Don’t give a damn about anything but their own next dollar and next tour. I can’t even tell you how many QUOTE un QUOTE headliners I’ve booked that didn’t even do anything to promote their OWN appearances. Not even a Myspace mention. Then they wonder why the crowds are light but still want to collect dough.
So what have we learned from all of this and more importantly, how can these sorts of things be fixed?
Some of these issues can’t be fixed. You can’t fight city hall on All Ages Shows, but you can get more creative on the venues you choose. Maybe it’s a house party instead, maybe you end up rocking in a park again with a damn boombox if your under 18, but whatever it is in life- if you want something and want to be a part of something you have to fight for it.
As far as the war on cogent communication that’s being waged by oversaturation, I think the most valuable thing you can do is make sure you COLLECT EMAILS, especially locally. When people sign up for your list, make sure you know where they are so you can send targeted emails out (learning that the hard way myself). Always make sure you bring a sign up to any show that you do, fuck around and bring it to other shows with Free CDs of your music. Make it happen.
The last one is simple. STAY HUMBLE! Don’t let success go to your head. Don’t let the fact that someone will give you 800 bucks to play in an obscure town keep you from rocking for 100 in your own backyard. Support where you come from! Support the next generation! That next generation starts with you right now! If you see a show thrown by a homie- SUPPORT! You never know, going to that show, may land you one for yourself the next month. Even if you see a show that’s being thrown by other local emcees that you don’t know, but you feel them, go down there and introduce yourself. You can’t start a scene going in alone, you’ll need friends. Meet as many people as you can- find out who is really down for what your doing and keep those people close.
We can rebuild worldwide, we all just have to roll up our sleeves.
Stay tuned for more columns