K-OS Takes The Free Show Plunge

One of the arguments for giving away music for free is that it will increase concert attendance as expressed in Einstein’s famous concertology equation – Free music = box office success.

Now one artist wants to take that a little further by establishing a pay-what-you-like method calling for concertgoers to pay what they thought the performance was worth.

Toronto hip-hop artist K-OS is the performer giving this a shot with a series of shows in Canada starting April 30 and running through May 16. If you like the performance, pay the man what you think it’s worth. If not, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

K-OS told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s cultural affairs radio program “Q” that he is experimenting with the concept, saying, “I needed to do something to get back to the roots of what I really love about music, which is its spontaneity.”

Aside from his altruistic motive, there’s also a business edge to K-OS’ method of madness. The rapper is hoping free shows will boost his box office power.

“I can afford to be in a position where I have to play really well for people. That’s true, that’s my interest,” K-OS said. “I also can afford to wake up in the morning thinking that I could be in Halifax or Calgary and somebody who might never come to my show, if it’s a sunny day, might go, ‘let’s go check it out.’”

But don’t think K-OS might go broke if one or more of his audiences wants a free ride at his expense. His concerts are reportedly being underwritten by Canadian mobile outfit Rogers Wireless.

Plus, there are plenty of merch opportunities, like T-shirts and CDs for sale. There’s also a charity angle, with audience members being able to donate to environmental organization the David Suzuki Foundation and get a special version of K-OS’ latest album, Yes! It’s Yours.

“As an artist, those are the two things that inspired me to be in a position where people might judge what they pay on how good they think my show is,” K-OS said. “That sensibility changes how I’ll feel on show day.”