An infamous debate between the Promoter and the Artist.
Let's bring up both points. The artist's perspective "I shouldn't have to pay to perform in front of a large audience." The other point of the promoter's perspective being "how am I going to make my money back if you have no paying audience?" Some artists have no problem with it in the perspective as an investment to gain a bigger fan base, some artists think pay to play is sheer robbery.
LET'S TALK ABOUT IT!
Let's start with the Artist.
You are someone who has worked your ass off to pay to get the perfect production, the best content. Let's not forget your followers are going up every day on IG. The visibility is real (I don't use the word "clout") ! You perform a few local shows in the town you were born and raised in and grind to promote your up-coming show. Come the day of the show, about 5 people show up... At least someone came out right?? Am I right?? By the way, this was not a paid show and all of your 5 people had to pay $10. You hear about another artist in your genre coming to town to perform at a 200+ capacity venue and guess what? They have opener slots! You hit the promoter who may or may not have heard of you and they hit you with the "pay to play" option(s) with the POSSIBILITY of pay (results may vary).
What is the Promoter thinking?!
Here's what they're possibly thinking. They need MONEY! As you can see from the breakdown of Nipsey Hussle post, it costs a lot of money to 1, bring the headliner in and 2, for everything else. If the venue goes by the papers, they need to cover liability insurance, security, pay staff to do what they need to do, accommodate the headliner with whatever bizarre requests they might have, so on and so forth. Of course this isn't the artist's problem, but a promoter needs to know they can make money off of you. Time is literally money when it comes to a 10-15 minute slot. What's $50 to a promoter who just paid $20k+ for the headliner?
This is just a general scenario. There are a lot of different factors that go into performing. Some are pay to play, some are not, but you have to have your business hat on when deciding on what makes sense to spend your money on.
Interested in performance opportunities?