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.'
To the music industry, he's Too Official. To those closest to him and Quality Control Music -- the label that's responsible for nearly 1/4 of Billboard's Hot R&B/Rap Songs charts as of recent -- he's a secret weapon. Why? "It's because I'm going to cover the streets. I'm going to make their presentation look bigger than what it is," Too Official told REVOLT TV. "Not only do I do the marketing. I go talk to the deejays. I go to radio stations. I go to club owners. I go to everybody. I remind everybody about QC's movement."
The 35-year-old grew up in the same neighborhood as Quality Control's CEO/co-founder Pierre "P" Thomas, and has been helping Quality Control before the label even had its name, and while the Migos members were still teenagers rapping under the moniker Polo Club. Now, as the label's marketing manager, Too Official has helped with almost every Quality Control tour; including recent ones from Migos, Lil Baby, and Quality Control associate Gucci Mane.
For Tour Tales, Too Official spoke with REVOLT TV about Quality Control tours, the roasting sessions that happen in the label's group chat, and how it took Migos a while gain acceptance in their hometown.
Since you handle the street promotions and make sure Quality Control is staying connected with people on the ground level of the music industry, how important were the streets to Migos' rise?
It was important because when the Migos came up, they were from Gwinnett [County, Georgia]. With them coming out as an artist, the biggest artists you had were [Young] Jeezy, T.I., Gucci [Mane]. They didn't really have no buzz at the time. There wasn't no big internet campaign. There wasn't no big Instagram campaign. Nothing like that. You had to be known in the street. With Migos being from Gwinnett, they needed that street push from Atlanta. Atlanta people don't really be on the internet like that, in the street. So, you have to be in the street and present who these guys are because nobody knew about them. Gucci had them. But, they didn't come out the blue.
That's fascinating because I've heard that even before they had their first Billboard hit with "Versace" in 2013, Migos were legends in the streets of Atlanta. Were there any shows or moments that illustrated how big Migos would become before they struck mainstream success?
In the hip hop area, in the hood, everybody would go to concerts. But, Migos would do venues. Nobody really knew about venues unless you were really in the music business. So, when Migos do a venue, and you came from the hood, you would be like, 'Migos got a concert. Who the Migos is?' Then, you'd go to their concert and see over 2,000 kids going crazy, saying, 'Trap out the bando.' You'd go, 'Who is this group? Why don't we know about them?'
They had all the colleges, hippie, upper echelon communities behind them, and the hood, urban areas didn't know about them. It made them legendary because people in the streets were like, 'How did they get all these 2,000 white kids, 2,000 college kids, screaming their stuff, and we don't know about them?' That's what made them legendary. They created a whole culture.
How did you get into doing marketing for QC?
When QC first started out; it was me, P, and Coach K (Kevin Lee, Quality Control's Chief Operating Officer). Coach K handled all the big business. P covered the street like making all the relationships, having control of the studio. I would be the one to go into the street and control the street. I gained my role by playing my role.
What's the first tour that you worked on for QC?
GTA, an EDM band, their 'Goons Take America' tour (2015). It was crazy because we were a hip hop group and I went out there with Rich The Kid. We were performing in front of 6,500-7,500 white kids every night. They knew Rich's music, but the hood didn't know Rich's music. It gave us hope that we really have fans out here. Atlanta would make you feel like you're not popping, until you go outside of that and see people really love your music.
Everybody in Atlanta are artists. So, when you do shows, everybody is kind of looking at you. When you go out of town or on tour, you got thousands of kids screaming your music, it gives you another look. That's what that tour did. It made us know people are loving our music.
Were there ever plans to do a full Quality Control label tour in the past?
Yeah. We tried to do it before. But, that's when Migos and all of them got locked up in Statesboro [Georgia]. Half of the label was in jail. So, the tour got cancelled.
Quality Control's had to deal with trouble with the law for years. Did City Girls rapper JT's jail sentence have any affect on how you marketed City Girls, or the shows they could get?
Nah, it didn't have any effect at all. The Drake song ["In My Feelings"] was so big when she went to jail, it was like, 'We want to see City Girls. One of them locked up? We don't care.' We were just on tour with [City Girls rapper] Yung Miami. She's just a star. She's so big, it's like you don't miss nothing. You miss JT. But, she puts the presentation so big and interacts with the fans, so you kind of don't miss anything. She make you feel like JT's there, seriously.
What do you tell QC artists about touring to get them prepared or help them while on the road?
We keep the same ambition. We know this is a job. This ain't fun and games, it's our job. We here to do a job. We all support each other. Whenever somebody sees somebody's show isn't doing what it's supposed to be doing, we tell each other about it. 'You need more energy. You need to be doing this.' We talk to the DJs. We tell their management teams that they have to move different out here on the road. We [are] always talking and supporting each other. Group text and all.
Wait, there's a Quality Control group text with everybody on the label?
Yep. Want me to tell you the funniest part? When we be on tour and somebody get caught smoking in the room, you get put on blast. The whole label on you for smoking in your room. [Laughs] It be so funny because you be like, 'I ain't smoke in the room!' Then, they start sending the receipts, the evidence. Then, the big label people are like, 'What y'all got going on?' Then, you feel so dumb on the phone with everybody watching.
Who got put on blast like that while on tour?
Our engineer and one of our promotion and marketing street team members. It cost them $250.
Damn, just for lighting up in the telly. Back to current tours, Lil Baby headlined the 'Harder Than Ever' tour earlier this year. How did you know Lil Baby could headline his own tour?
When he was on tour with PnB Rock and every night people would be like, 'Lil Baby already went on? Damn, that's who I came to see. When is he going to have his own tour?' That's when we knew. Then, when the 'Yes Indeed' record came, that was enough to sell tickets and go on tour.
Pause right there and let's dig a bit into that part of the touring business. Are there certain numbers an artist needs to reach before they can headline their own tour?
Yeah, definitely because Live Nation and the other agencies aren't going to pick it up.
So, you need a platinum record to go on tour?
A gold record is good to go on tour. It don't even got to be a gold record, it can be a gold song. I'm not just saying any tour because anybody can go on tour. I'm talking about a national tour.
Ok, so how did 'Bad & Boujee' change the type of shows Migos were able to book?
It changed everything they ever did. They went on 'Ellen.' They started doing late night shows. They started getting bigger endorsement deals. Their level of doing venues changed to doing arenas.
What's the most memorable Migos show you ever seen?
Fool's Gold when Offset first got out [of prison] with DJ Carnage. It was so crazy. That's when we knew Migos were really rockstars. People were mosh-pitting, jumping on each other. I was like, 'Whoa. Oh my god.'
Since you handle the street side of tour promotion, what is your job when police searches on tour buses or arrests happen?
To be honest, [I] stay out of the way and let the label handle it. I've done been in places with them where police have come in and raided the buses. It's calmed down. But, Migos used to get targeted more than any artist. They were the first ones being targeted. About three years ago, when they were underground, before 'Bad and Boujee.'
To be honest, stay out of the way and let the label handle it. I've done been in places with them where police have come in and raided the buses. It's calmed down. But, Migos used to get targeted more than any artist. They were the first ones being targeted. About three years ago, when they were underground, before 'Bad and Boujee.'
On "WORKIN ME," Quavo haughtily boasted 'QC the new Cash Money Records now.' Are there things from Cash Money that you've been inspired by and used for QC's marketing?
Absolutely. We all looked up to Cash Money. So, everything they did from touring, fashion, trendsetting. We got a lot of Reebok deals at QC that Cash Money did. Baby definitely set a good blueprint and I think he inspired half of the rap game.
Quavo seems to be such a character and booming personality. Does he joke around backstage on tour?
Oh yeah, Quavo will play a lot. He'd do jokes on you. He'd pour water in your mouth while you sleep. Put the mayonnaise, rub your forehead, and make you slap yourself. [Laughs]
Who on QC has the craziest rider?
Lil Marlo. He be wanting six bottles of Rose, eight bottles of liquor, about 150 wings. [Laughs].
There's still two months left in the year and Lil Yachty's album came out of nowhere. Are there albums we should expect from QC before the year is up?
Takeoff and Offset about to drop. Takeoff about to drop his album next, then Offset.
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 that if artists made more money on selling music they would do less shows?
Might be. That's why I don't think Cardi [B] does as many shows anymore. That's a good question because I just told myself that the other day, Cardi don't do little shows at clubs anymore. Cardi does big venues, I see now. Now, I see why she does less shows because of what you just asked me. If artists sold more music, they'll do less shows. That's a good god damn question.
No lie because I just thought about this yesterday. I said Cardi ain't been doing a lot of clubs anymore, she just do big venues because she sells a lot of albums. I told somebody this the other day. Artists have to do more shows because they don't make no money. That's why Ja Rule is still touring because he didn't make no money.
QC is known for putting out a lot of music, but also touring and performing a lot. Are artists on the label recording on tour? If so, what songs or projects came from being recorded on the road?
Quavo's album was recorded on tour. Lil Baby recorded 'Southside' in Houston, so he records music on the road. But, Migos just started recording on their tour bus this tour with Drake. But, they be on private jets. So, they don't be on the tour bus too long.
I know arrests stopped a full label in the past. But, with so many QC artists dominating the charts, are there plans to do a Quality Control label tour in the future?
Oh yeah, it's coming. It's definitely coming. It's an idea. We just have to put everything together with the label. Everybody on their own schedule. If everybody on their own level and their own path, then lets keep it like that. But, it's definitely happening.
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