A night out on the town, Tulsa to be exact. Normally this would involve a movie, a bar, maybe dinner, but this particular evening something something different caught my attention. Rappers vs. Poets II, seemed interesting enough. A hip-hop event happening and on a Friday evening nonetheless. For Tulsa, this is a very big step in a city, where this wasn't always the case. A local rapper named Verse stated in The Voice magazine,
“They had all these pay-to-play shows at clubs, where you had to sell a certain number of tickets to get your slot, or pay for whatever tickets you didn’t sell. It just wasn’t legit.”
But this event seemed pretty legit filled with poetry, rappers, battling, a real hip-hop atmosphere. That was until one thing stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a $12 admission fee. I know 12 dollars thats nothing, but in Tulsa for a local event that seemed like a little too much. But why is that? If we breakdown some of the normal activities that we consider entertainment then it would be a little something like this; 1) The average movie ticket during peak hours is around $12 with tax. 2) The average drink is $6 to $7 depending on the grade of alcohol you get, so 2 drinks and a tip and your already over $12. 3) Dinner at a restaurant on the cheap side is around $9 to $10 plus a tip and there you have it the price of admissions. But why is it so hard for us to think that an event in Tulsa is not worth as much as what we get from the other things that we routinely spend on money on?
One explanation may be past experiences. I admit that there are more venues like SoundPony or TheYeti that offer free admission to listen to local artists, in which hip-hop artists have undoubtedly used to their advantage. But if you have ever been to a big time hip-hop show then you know that these shows just don't give you the same type of feeling that a big time hip-hop show gives. I'm not talking about flashing lights or projection screen videos, or even a big name headliner. One of the biggest things that Tulsa hip-hop events miss is atmosphere. Atmosphere, why else go out, whether that be a movie, a bar, or dinner atmosphere is what we pay for. And in the case of some of these events a small group surrounded by the 'not your typical hip-hop audience, but the normal bar patrons' are not enough to promote the type of atmosphere that brings in larger audiences or the recognition of being a hip-hop destination.
A second theory would be location. Tulsa is not exactly the hip-hop mecca. The premiere venues such as the BOK or Cain's ballroom does not cater to the hip-hop audience, and rarely do they allow headliners of the hip-hop genre to play at these locations. Which points back to the venues SoundPony and TheYeti, where admission is free. But does free admission hurt the brand (i.e. local hip-hop artists)? There is no doubt that no one single hip-hop fan would turn down a free concert to see Drake or J. Cole in a personal setting like these venues. But this can almost have the opposite affect on a local artist trying to make a name and ultimately build a brand through ticket sales and merchandising. An example of this occurred when Apple came out with its' cheapest version of the iPhone ever. And from an pricing perspective, it was true that more people were able to afford the iPhone, but one thing that Apple forgot is that people don't buy iPhones just because they can afford them. People buy iPhones because, not just everyone can afford them, and it is a symbol of one's economic status. There are a million different phones on the market that are way cheaper and do more than the iPhone, but the brand is what sets it apart year-in and year-out. And for Tulsa artists the price of admission is definitely a factor when it comes to branding yourself and getting more and more people to in the doors.
Well, maybe Tulsa rappers don't have the bars (i.e. lyrical bars)? Whoa!!! HOLD UP!!!. It's still a little to early in this publications life to be making bold statements like that. So what about the way an event is promoted? OK, thats a little better. In an era where the internet and social media rein supreme and with information practically at your finger tips with the evolution of smart phones. Is there too much information out there? Who do I follow? These are some of the biggest questions to ask yourself if your looking for local events in Tulsa. The research that goes behind finding an event in Tulsa on the weekends can literally start on a Monday and last until Friday evening. Furthermore, spending money on a place where you are unsure if there will be the right....you know what I'm about to say 'Atmosphere' is important. The promotion for a particular event is key not only getting people in the door, but it also getting the 'right' people in the door, thus creating the perfect 'Atmosphere' (Preach as Snoop Dogg would say). And there is definetly a void in the since of having a central location where people can see what local artists are performing or even different events that are going on. (P.S. Hopefully this publication can fill that void, one day.)
Genius!!! So there you go, we solved the problem right? People are less likely to pay $12 for a local event because, Tulsa doesn't have atmosphere. Whoa!!!HOLD UP!!! Not today!! Not Today!!! I don't think that the only reason why people are less likely to pay $12 is because Tulsa has no Atmosphere. Have you been around the city lately? It's oozing with Atmosphere. But I do thing that the right of combination better experiences, better promotions and the right Atmosphere, will take Tulsa from a 'good place' to hear local music to one of 'the places' to hear great local music and who knows maybe even for 12 bucks. As always feel free to comment, like, and share this article.