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Run-DMC’s Rev Run: If artists have the selling power, ‘be woke and get it done’

Melody Hahm
Senior Writer

Joseph Simmons was the frontman of Run-DMC, the first hip-hop group to earn a platinum record.

Simmons, better known as Rev. Run, partnered with Stubhub (EBAY) this holiday season to help customers find live events to gift to their family and friends. The world’s largest ticket marketplace is giving buyers the ability to create custom gift “raps” to send along with tickets.  

In a recent conversation with Yahoo Finance, Rev. Run discussed this partnership, as well as a move by singers like Taylor Swift to delist resale tickets for portions of their tours so they come away with more of the profits. By listing ticket prices at a higher level off the bat, the idea is to make it difficult for scalpers to buy them and resell them at an even higher price.

Rev. Run believes that if artists have the fan following and platform to control their own careers, they should exercise that power — especially if it benefits customers in the form of lower ticket prices.

“The customer is always the person that has to be happy. So if you have the power like Taylor Swift to tell everybody in your office, ‘Hey, everybody shut up. This is how we’re doing it.’ And I heard Ariana Grande saying something [similar]… like ‘I want to put my record out the day I want to put it out.’ So if you have that power and you’re smart enough to tell your office, ‘This is how we are going to sell these tickets. We’re not going to take the low road, we’re going to take the high road.’ Then by all means, be woke, and get it done, and make sure the fans are happy and they get good prices for their tickets,” he said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

In the case of Taylor Swift, her “Reputation” tour earlier this year already grossed more on its North American leg than her previous tour in 2015, which brought in more than $250 million globally. That shows her strategy may be working, even though one result is that she no longer has sold-out shows.

Of course, this kind of pricing strategy is a privilege only the most popular artists can enjoy, because the high demand for their tickets outweighs the value of any unsold seats. Still, Rev. Run believes artists will only claim more and more power in the future. 

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm. She hosts Breakouts, a monthly interview series for Yahoo Finance featuring up-close and intimate conversations with today’s most innovative business leaders.

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