The Economics of the “No Fly Zone” in Detroit

In 2014, Hot 107.5’s Summer Jam headliner, Rick Ross, was met by a hundred people and not allowed to perform. Immediately the headlines read that he was the latest victim of Trick Trick’s “No Fly Zone” rule. The move was met with mixed reviews. Some people felt like people were spoiling the show while other’s enjoyed the power move and how dominant it made Detroit look. To pull this type of maneuver on one of the biggest hip-hop artists/moguls at one of the biggest yearly events the city has seen over the past couple decades… Well, lets dig a little deeper.

First, we must understand what the “No Fly Zone” really is. The city of Detroit has consistently been taken advantage of. We are one of the biggest consumer markets for music and a lot of the other arts, yet our local artist community struggles with day jobs to pay bills and do art as a hobby. So, national artists, such as Jeezy, come to Detroit three or four times a year and leave with $100,000 to spend anywhere but in Detroit. As much as we like brand names and high-fashion none of the people who own those brands are doing anything to give back to our community. This must have been the same plight that Trick Trick seen with the national artists.

In all fairness, Jeezy did sign an act from Detroit and gave them the opportunity to reach a national audience. Whatever happened with the deal isn’t really that important. The fact that they were giving a shot is what’s important here.  There have also been other artists and labels to give Detroit acts a break, but these opportunities have yet to trickle down to the masses.

There are only two ways to get a real movement in Detroit. The first is for someone to start the trickle down effect like Trick Daddy did in Miami. His roots can be traced back to Luke, but he ushered in the new era of Miami. Rick Ross, Plies, Trina, DJ Khaled, and a few other artists helped push the movement further, but the avalanche started with Trick Daddy. The second way is to do what Berry Gordy did with Motown or Master P did with No Limit Records and build a new movement, then get a big check, which would allow for you to open the door for more artists from Detroit.

Of course, we’ve had rap/hip-hop artists from Detroit that have been “discovered”, but no one has built an empire from the ground up and got that big distribution check like Rocafella, No Limit, or Cash Money. When you sign a record deal, you are at the mercy of the record label, so your acroons are limited to what they will allow you to do. If they want you working with certain producers or writers, that’s what you’ll have to do. When you sit down to make that distribution deal, you can negotiate more favorable terms, which allows you to reach back to your hometown.

So, is Trick Trick asking that every major artist sign an artist from Detroit? I think not. If these artists came to the city and actually took the time to check out some of the artists, spend some money in the local establishments, support a few local businesses by patronizing them and doing something as simple as taking a picture with some of the products they bought and posting it to social media, it could generate more money for the economy in Detroit. Is that really asking too much.

The problem isn’t just with national artists, though. The problem exists amongst the locals, also. The general public is not excited about the local music scene, so they only support the national artists that visit. Once again, this is money that boards a plane right out of Detroit as soon a second they step off the stage. Then those same promoters charge local artists to open for majors, which really does nothing for their career. They are basically squeezing already struggling artists to put more money in pockets that are already fat.

Essentially, there is nothing wrong with this concept. The problem is there aren’t many Detroit artists hitting the road and making $50,000 to $100,000 per show that they can bring back to help open doors for more artists from Detroit, so we aren’t left to fend for self while these artists continue to make progress without hassle.

In this regard, the “No Fly Zone” makes perfect sense. If you are not going to help ANYONE in Detroit, you need not be here taking our hard earned money and spending it anywhere but in Detroit. Economically we are destroying our city one show at a time. More artists and business owners should stand behind Trick Trick, but most people only care about being entertained. This is way bigger than a song and dance.

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