“Win Over the People”: An Important Lesson for Opening Acts

“We want to expand our demographic.”
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Glamorous wouldn’t be the first word used to describe a show opener. Often performing for half-filled (at best) venues of disinterested people, it’s easy to get disheartened when you’re giving a song your all and people won’t give you the time of day. For Brooklyn-based musical group Phony Ppl, opening up for Pusha T on his upcoming domestic tour isn’t a kiss of death, but the ultimate battleground to win over new fans.

“One thing I’m really excited to see on the road is how we can win over the people that came to see him,” member Thrie told Billboard. “We want the next day for people to think, ‘Wow I came out for Pusha-T, but the other band is kinda nice, too. I want to see what they got goin’ on.’ We want to expand our demographic. When we went on the road with Kali Uchis, that was a sort of kind of bouquet, and now Phony Ppl and Pusha T is a different kind of bouquet. I’m keyin’ in already, visualizin’ people’s faces while I’m standing on stage. I’m feelin’ it already. We want to do the best we can do and represent Brooklyn in the best way possible.”

Consider this the ideal mindset. Opening a show may feel a bit soulless, but it is a great way for indie and newly-signed artists to cultivate and expand their fan base across the country. So long as you’re confident in your performance, there is a lot to gain from being an opener.

In 2017, we spoke with a handful of rappers to point out the benefits of touring before you have a fully established fanbase. Perhaps Sadistik said it best: “Almost nobody attends a show to see the opening act. So when I was the one opening a show, I made it a point to embrace it and destroy their expectations. If you want to convert people to your message, you have to do something that makes them remember you.”

Often, a live show experience will net you a fan for life. Just, please, don’t perform over pre-recorded vocals. Rap fans deserve better.

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