Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For 'Tour Tales,' we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it's still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on 'Tour Tales.'
Trevor Patterson, who's 27 years old, was helping people find value years before he was helping Young Nudy -- one of hip hop’s rising stars -- do the same with his music. Alabama-born, Atlanta-raised Patterson worked at a pawn shop in East Point, Georgia -- the same neighborhood Outkast grew up in -- before becoming a blogger in 2013 for DJ Holiday.
“My first taste of [touring] was, I used [to] have a small role with OG Maco. I was on the road with him full-time. But, my first [time] actual doing it full on was with 21 Savage when he started going on the road,” Patterson told REVOLT.
Nudy is in the middle of his 21-date "Welcome To Nudy Land" Tour, his first-ever headlining one. Patterson spoke with REVOLT for its Tour Tales series to discuss how Young Nudy balances the internet and the streets while on the road, NBA 2K beatdowns, and how he helps artists at their most vulnerable times.
You were 21 Savage’s road manager for a while, in his early years. What is the role of a road manager?
To put it frankly, it's a decision maker. It’s the guy that's with the artist on the road. [For] any artist, their most vulnerable point is probably on the road. You're not at home. A lot of times you’re going places, places y'all been before. Sometimes you're not. Road manager is the guy that prevents things from happening or solves problems when they do arrive.
I'm assuming you had to develop into the role of a road manager. Were there moments on tour where you had to be the decision maker, early on?
As far as with Savage, nothing really bad ever happened on the road. The most fucked up thing that ever happened was like a promoter wouldn't -- When you book a show you get paid a frontend, like a deposit. You get the backend when you get to whatever city. So, the most fucked up thing that would happen is the promoter wouldn't have the backend. That happens for a lot of artists all of the time.
I remember you tweeted that you had a video of Savage driving the tour bus. What was that like and what happens on the tour bus?
It's just random stuff, man. That moment right there with him driving that tour bus was just something that happened on the road. We were all sitting upfront, talking to the bus driver. Our bus driver on that tour was a legendary bus driver. He drove for Nicki Minaj, [Lil] Wayne, Drake. So, he was telling us about driving and shit. Savage, he’s so naturally competitive. [Laughs] He was like, "That shit can't be that hard." So, the driver was like, "You want to try it?" That's how that happened. He only did it for a couple of seconds, but he said it wasn't that hard. [Laughs]
Now you're managing Young Nudy and he’s on his first headlining tour, the "Welcome To Nudy Land" Tour. How did you know Nudy was ready or even able to have a headlining tour?
For me, it's a lot of fan interactions and a lot of analytics, putting things together. When I look at his Twitter mentions, or Instagram comments. We'll book regular shows all over the southeast. Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, along those lines. You get to the point, where you're looking on Spotify and his second best city is Los Angeles. Or his third best city for this song is Oakland. You're looking at the comments and it's like, "Come to the Bay. Come to L.A." You see it so many times, it gets to the point that we got to put something together because obviously it's people there that want to see him.
How do those stats and analytics factor into booking shows? Do you present them to the venue to show what attendance he may bring in?
I take my numbers to an agent. I took meetings with a lot of booking agents, and I took everything we had and I presented them to the agents. When it comes to actually booking everything, and routing it so we can get to every show, that's who handles that.
Young Nudy put out Slimeball in August 2016. What were those early shows like?
That shit was ratchet as fuck. [Laughs] It was a whole bunch of ratchet ass clubs in small towns. It was fun, though. It wasn't how it is now. Where we doing 800-capacity venues full of white people, you know? It was nothing like that.
While he was performing, he was still putting out music. Were there songs on Nudy Land or any of the Slimeball projects inspired by the reaction from other songs?
I would think so. The reaction certain songs get probably gears him towards making certain songs similar to that. Songs like “Loaded Baked Potato,” “Fatsane,” [have] really catchy hooks. He probably was leaning more toward doing that. A lot of stuff he makes [are] straight through. He raps about 75% of his songs straight through. Then, he'll go back again and create a hook.
Now that you're managing an artist, how is it different than what you were doing with 21 Savage?
I do everything now. Back then, it was kind of like I was just doing road stuff. Book a hotel, show up at a club, pick up a bag, drive. Now, I have the role that I was given. Now, I put somebody in place to be Nudy's road manager.
What have you noticed evolve in Nudy's show?
His live show now is incredible. We test out certain songs. If we see a song is getting a good reaction online, we'll try it out at a show. His set from six months ago, or even three months ago, isn't the same set he performs now because we try out different songs.
So, you'll look online to see how people are reacting to it and that influences what songs you perform?
What's the balance between the importance of the street's reaction and the internet's reaction to Young Nudy and his live show?
It depends. The street reaction to a song, it kind of tells you what it's going to do at a club. The internet reaction tells you what it's going to do at a show. You have to have a balance between both. Really you've got to have a balance between what's streaming well, what's hot at the club, and what's hot at the shows. "Loaded Baked Potato," that's his last song he performs. It's by far his most popular song. Even more so than the song he got with [Lil] Yachty, or 21 [Savage], or Offset. "Loaded Baked Potato," even though there's no feature on it, it is by far his most popular song. It gets his best reaction at the club, the best reaction at the shows, and it's best streaming song, by far.
What's on Young Nudy's rider?
It's pretty normal. Only thing he wants that's kind of hard to find is a very specific flavor of Swisher [Sweets]. It's called Diamond Swisher and he wants two boxes. The Diamond Swisher is hard to find in a lot cities. It's probably somebody's job to drive around to 12 gas stations to find two boxes of those. [Laughs].
You once tweeted that you should write a book about tour life because it’d be a movie. What did you mean by that?
When I wrote that tweet, I was thinking of being educational than being entertaining. It's a lot of fun. But, it's a lot of business involved, too. There's a lot of managers that got street artists that only do club shows. When you do club shows, you get the frontend, you go to the club, you get the backend, and then, you're done. When you're doing the tour, you're paying taxes. It's different things. Things are being taken out for security and lights. I end up paying for a lot of stuff. A lot more goes into touring than goes into shows in the club. Touring can feed an artist forever. A lot of artists can feed themselves on touring for years to come. You can only be in the club when you have a hot record out.
I know you guys are gamers. What's the gaming situation like on tour?
We play everything. We'll get a PlayStation and we'll put it on the tour bus. Because we be on the road so long, a lot of games would come out, while we're on the road. We'll play everything. It gets to a point where I get my own system on the side, so I can play shit by myself because I play a lot of solo games.
Have you seen any rappers get washed playing games?
Oh yeah. Yachty got smoked by Savage in [NBA] 2K. He beat the shit out of him. I think he dubbed him. Savage is nice at 2K. Nudy likes First Person Shooter.
How difficult do police make it for artists like Savage or Nudy to perform somewhere? How much do you take into account the police and your artist's current legal situation, when planning shows?
I talk about this online a lot. When you're a street artist, it's hard in the game to get a lot things going for yourself. I know trap and street culture is the popular thing right now. But, a lot of rappers only do it because it's hot. That's not how they are. So, when the industry discovers someone that is actually like that, it gets scary. You have to show people, even though you came from that, you're not going to be on that unless you have to be on that. Nudy is friendly as hell, even though he's street. He’s probably the friendliest person I ever met in my life.
One of my biggest gripes with live performances is rappers rapping over their backing track. Why does Nudy?
He raps over his vocals, yeah. He smokes a lot of weed, so he'll forget his words. He also likes to interact with his fans, while he's on stage. For him, his live show isn't just him rapping his song. He wants to go in the crowd and take pictures. He wants to throw stuff in the crowd. He wants to pass out Chucky dolls. To him, it just sounds boring, if it's just music playing.
What is one thing you wish you could change about touring?
Only thing I really hate about touring is those little, small private jets. They're terrifying. I hate like the one... the tiny ones may fucking [terrifying].
Really? When I hear "private jet," I'm thinking the glamorous shit rappers show on their IG.
It's different kinds. The ones they post on the internet are the fancy ones. The kind with the bedrooms in it, and there's hella space. Sometimes, when you're just going somewhere quick, you'll book a small private jet. Let's say you're going from Atlanta to Charlotte, North Carolina; those shits are terrifying because it's a whole plane. But, it doesn't fly high in the sky and you can feel every little thing. I don't think they should make small private jets. Every jet should be a big ass jet. I know it saves money. But, fuck it. [Laughs].
According to a Citigroup report, artists only made 12 percent of the $43 billion in revenue the music industry earned in 2017, with most of the artists' earnings coming from live performances. Do you think Nudy would be touring if he made more money selling songs?
Nudy is kind of a special case because he just loves his fans. He loves wherever his fans are going to be. Of course every artist loves to get paid. But, Nudy does a lot of stuff just because he knows his fans would love if he did it. He's not into the extra antics that a lot of artists do. He's not going to do a lot of goofy shit. He's not going to wear weird clothes. For him, in order to balance out, he'll walk around the mall to see his fans. Those are the things [that] we talk about him doing, [which] we're going to start rolling out.
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