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Drake’s First Live Gig Was Probably an Opening Set for Ice Cube, and He Got Paid Just $100

As the value of recorded music for most artists remains in the ditch and touring continues to lose its luster as a way for musicians to make even the barest semblance of a living, Drake has some advice for up-and-coming musicians: “keep going.”

On Instagram, the rapper shared a post from the Flyer Vault — an archival account dedicated to “documenting Toronto club and concert history” — that featured an invoice for what was likely Drake’s first live performance. The gig took place Aug. 19, 2006, at the now-shuttered venue, Kool Haus, with Drake earning a meager $100 that night as he opened up for Ice Cube. 

Drake confirmed the veracity of the invoice and his payday, writing on Instagram Stories, “This is for anybody getting 100 a show right now… keep going.” 

It is, of course, relevant to note that at the same time Drake was getting paid $100 to open for Ice Cube, he was also starring in the hit Canadian teen drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation. But while the show provided a solid baseline income (especially for a teenager), in Drake’s telling, he used his salary to help support his family rather than stashing it away. 

“My mother was very sick. We were very poor, like broke,” Drake told Complex in a 2011 interview. “The only money I had coming in was off of Canadian TV, which isn’t that much money when you break it down. A season of Canadian television is under a teacher’s salary, I’ll tell you that much. It’s definitely not something to go fucking get.”

All that said, it would be a whole lot easier for a lot of artists to heed Drake’s advice and “keep going” if there were some fundamental changes to the music industry that made making music more viable. The vast majority of streaming revenue, for instance, still goes to the top one percent of artists — which definitely includes Drake — so making money off actual music remains exceptionally difficult. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib introduced a resolution to overhaul the streaming royalty system, though additional congressional support is still needed for the resolution to be turned into a bill, let alone law. 

Meanwhile, the ostensible panacea for artists not making any money from streaming — touring — has become even more economically hazardous than ever before. The continued threat of Covid-19 and canceled shows, combined with inflation and high gas prices, have made it increasingly expensive and difficult to tour. Even established acts like Santigold and Animal Collective have been forced to cancel tours recently because the numbers simply didn’t add up, and they just couldn’t keep going.

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