Why I Agreed to Play Oprah’s ‘The Life You Want’ Tour for Free…

Last week, Revolva posted a blistering open letter to Oprah Winfrey after being asked to perform at ‘The Life You Want’ tour for free.  One-man-band Dave Kim sees the situation differently…

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Check out Dave on Youtube here, and his Ted performance here.

25 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    It’s pathetic, how cheap Oprah and her whole team of people are. It makes me cynical at what a great society y’all got down there.

    • Willis

      Cheap? Living in a vacuum must be nice. Exactly how long and how much money has it taken to build the Oprah empire and brand? The benefit to being associated with this vehicle for promotion and sales is priceless. Artists plays shows for “free” all the time in order to get exposure. People need a reality check.

      • Anonymous

        That’s right Willis, and you are one of them that needs a serious and significant reality check…

        I’ve seen enough of your posts to know you are blinded to many things that are going on in the world, and while you talk of knowledge, its only about the covered blanket exterior you see, and not about the deep dirty things that happen behind the doors and behind the curtains and at the bottom of the holes…

        Oprah is cheap, absolutely! You don’t get to Billy status by being anything but…

        • Willis

          So developing the brand, following, etc. that is “Oprah” didn’t take time and money? Cmon, now.

  2. GGG

    There’s certainly some merit to playing large “exposure” gigs like this, but for fuck’s sake, they can afford to pay performers, they’re just being assholes and taking advantage of people.

    I’m with Revolva on this one, fuck ’em..

  3. JJ

    .. and now anyone who wants to book Dave Kim knows he’ll play for free.

    • Willis

      That’s a lame assessment. Anyone believing that he will play for free going forward is in need of a mental tune-up.

      • Anonymous

        Not at all Willis. Precedent has been set and that will be plenty an expectation.

        In your world of theory, of course it would be nice if that’s not how it worked, but in reality?? That is certainly how it will often work.

        Some of you guys are really blinded by what you perceive reality to be and how different it actually is…

        • Willis

          Try connecting with reality a little. I suppose you think that drug dealers use the ‘first one is free’ and don’t expect to be paid on future purchases?

          • Anonymous

            Sigh, what a boring reply.. Try connecting with reality a bit???? That’s what you come with??? I just told you Willis that what you perceive reality to be and what it actually is are two different things… Its not some debate where you get to come back at me and beat me down, it is a fact and you are to sit there and take it like the man you are supposed to be, nod your head saying yes Sir, and work on understanding things better… PERIOD!

            Sadly That is your type and what your industry always does, tries to make people feel like pieces of garbage, break people this and that so that you can impose your way and your will on them all to result in your benefit somehow… Its pathetic…

            You only show a complete lack of understanding how big business works Willis and as usual completely missed the point i was making…

            None of you seem to take the time to digest what is being said and thusly start connecting the wrong dots and putting words in my mouth, making assumptions that are not there to be made…

            I do it on purpose…

            Music is not the drug business and although the way some of the top drug dealers do business is worthy of being researched and applied to other areas of business, its just not the same in music. Of course since music has often taken people off the streets and gotten them out of trouble, especially from the drug life, i guess so many people in the industry are just wired with that mindset. Plenty a music award winner used to be a decent weight pusher in the drug game.

            Thing is, drug dealers know that their product often leads to addiction and can get someone dependent on their product.

            Music is not.

            The reality of the situation is, its an industry that wants people to work for free so they can make money off of them and will go to any lengths to dupe them into such thinking. It’s not a one and done thing and then you get paid industry.

            The REALITY, is that Oprah et all are well aware of the show, music and entertainment business. They know that most people are super desperate for anything. They know that most people are needing attention and ego stroking, are insecure and fledgling, are lacking business and in need of opportunity, so they take advantage of it and people. They try and con them into believing the perceived benefits and how well it will help them. Its a scam, a con, its what those people do.

            Now of course it can be beneficial and of course it can lead to decent paid work, but the reality is, its getting worse and worse and the stories out there of people who got gamed and never got anything else are vast.

            These people need to understand how it works, the actual reality of it, and not what these Willis people have to say on the matter.

            Willis outs himself as either someone looking to take advantage of people, some shark looking for a piece of meat to exploit and fry in the skillet, or else is essentially clueless to the big picture reality of it all.

            Its pathetic business they are doing and Oprah should and likely is ashamed of herself and what shes had to do to get to that level.

            Steady gaming yall on the daily but thanks for coming out Willis.


          • Willis

            That’s lots of text for a lot of incorrect assumptions. I cannot have a discussion with any valuable outcome with someone who lives in a vacuum.

    • Dave Kim

      Revolva is $20K in debt, I am not. I volunteer my music services to the Red Cross, Lymphoma Leukemia Society and the SPCVA. By volunteering, I expose myself for other opportunities. I consider every performance an audition for the next gig. I am blessed to say that I make a great living as a musician and have the luxury to donate my music which is what I have done most of my life when I performed in the church.

  4. Anonymous

    its cause their not with them…

    if Revola had taken a knee and signed over her property and name and likeness, Opera would have been obliged to pay her hundreds of thousands…

    Be independent and suffer the consequences. Else join criminal cartels and make money and get fame,

    Just the way it is…


  5. Adam

    It’s pretty different when you are comparing a TED talk performance with an Opeah performance. It would be one thing to compare apples to apples here but you’re basically comparing apples to whatever the heck you call Oprah… Not really a good analogy. I’d the Ted talk free and the Oprah show paid, too, if that’s the point to be taken from this.

  6. Anon

    As David Byrne said, “Isn’t “exposure” something people die from”?

    • Willis

      Yes, coming from the man with the hits, money and fame, already. Brilliant example, especially when the first gigs that the Talking Heads played were at CBGB opening for The Ramones…for free.

  7. Anonymous

    I get where this guy is coming from but I thoroughly disagree. You’re performing a service, you should get paid. That’s the bottom line.

  8. Matt Bunsen

    Every performer at each stage of their career has to evaluate “exposure” opportunities and determine if it makes sense. There may be situations that are worth it. (I accepted a free gig once just because I thought it would be a great time – but that’s just me…)
    I totally respect Revolva’s decision – it’s hard not to. And I think it’s hard not to be a bit angered and disappointed with Oprah, who can certainly afford to be paying the performers. Come on, Oprah… support the arts!

  9. Martin

    Its a different thing for a Circus performer to do a free gig than a musician. As a musician your exposure can lead to your music getting into all sorts of places, but as a live performer your art is for the people here and now at the performance. As a musician its feasible that you could never get payed for a single live performance and still make a living through record sales, sync etc. As a circus performer what your selling is the performance, so how can you justify doing it for free? It’s disgraceful that Oprah should expect it. It’s not showing any respect, just treating people as product.

  10. Steve M

    I’m fairly certain Oprah got all that money by taking it from other people. Show some fucking Oprah balls and tell her what you think you are worth. Being associated with something has very little sway with society today. Look at all the people on reality tv; the voice, american idol, etc. Even with great talent, these people are cast aside. Embrace your inner Oprah, and take as much as you can get.

  11. dhenn

    Dave Kim is what I like to call wrong when it comes to Oprah. Sorry dude.

  12. jpe

    i’m going to have to say revolva has gotten quite a bit of national publicity taking a stand against oprah’s insulting exploitation of struggling artists. there might be a degree of exposure playing at her gigs for free but quite honestly i had no idea there was anything going on at her seminars but oprah babbling and cheer-leading. revolva’s open letter drove traffic to her website and i sent links to every working musician and industry exec that i know (i use an alias here but 37 years into my career, i know a ton of people.)

    the industry, for decades now, has asked artists to accept “publicity” as a form of payment and slyly moved every source of the artist’s revenue stream into the “publicity tool” column. artist are told online streaming is really just online radio that will drive the consumers toward a purchase or download. but the consumer gets to pick and chose what they want to hear and when they want to hear it – which drives accidental exposure to other artists off the table and functions no differently for the consumer than physical ownership of what the industry likes to call “content.” and downloading allows for cherry-picking that has destroyed the album (and its all-inclusive sales) as we know it. dare i say that pirate sites have done more to preserve the album as an art form?

    today’s model has forced artists to stoke everything but curiosity in their actual music to earn money. publicity itself is now the product and as always, monetizing it is stacked against the artist (there is serious talk of now having artists pay to perform at the super bowl halftime show as if the nfl gets no value from drawing in viewers for that segment of the telecast!) i get the publicity thing. i live with an actor whose work as an extra has earned him quite a healthy income and his imdb page generates lots and lots of work. but he just did a no-dialog job for a netflix series that had him standing in park, a good 75 feet from the camera for a two minute scene. for his three hours, he got breakfast, lunch, paid parking and he got paid actual money. plus he gets publicity for working on a prestigious show. for musicians, publicity should also be a perk and not the fundamental form of payment. it’s not like oprah can guarantee you that TED Talks MIGHT call. it’s an intangible for the artists and they should all divest themselves of the airy-fairy notion that publicity is some bankable guarantee of future income!

    even if i was so inclined as to spend that much money on oprah, and i was blown away by dave kim, i know that, despite what he says he can now justify charging, i can justify offering him nothing to perform for me. the oprah bump ages and loses value. i might could get him a fresh new gig at a political convention and a news outlet might catch a snippet or maybe john boehner will have him dj a poker game. oh, and the facebook “likes” he’s gonna get… i would start negotiating from zero. i would not see “he worked for oprah.” i would see “he will work for free.” these shiny golden promised dreams of publicity cost me (or oprah) nothing! it’s byproduct. she is literally paying artist with a chance to smell her farts. the reality is that $1200 is a lot to charge for something that has been around 25 years for free. so oprah has to add value and excitement to these events. there is no doubt she paid producers to spiff up the proceedings and if she did not recognize the need to do something to justify those outrageous ticket prices, nobody would have been ringing up dave kim in the first place. it is not a professional courtesy when oprah and dave swap services. it is the highest form of insult (i’ll let you bask in my farts…)

    the artist who provides slave labor may get a degree of exposure and that certainly was a huge thing when oprah had a hit television show and people bought cd’s. but i have never heard of dave kim. he got passed around for free in my opinion. listening to oprah at a seminar is not worth $1200 to me. i view TED talks online for free but i can promise you i don’t invest too much time listening to violinists or dj’s (who by their own account are not the best) simply because they once played for oprah. i live in the nation’s capital and i get to hear all kinds of wonderful speakers for free. i should note that in this convention town, there are hookers who get paid more than $1200 for a night’s work and they also get to stay in the hotels and attend the seminars they are working! sure, i have played gigs for exposure and a chance to see artists live. but in every case, the major talent reached back and paid my band a little something because they know you can’t eat clicks on a facebook page. it almost broke my heart to read that someone got free tickets to an event where they performed. janitors get to pee in the toilets they clean. that’s not revenue. even if dave kim sold tee shirts, hanes might have made more money off of them than he would have! if artist cannot reconcile these dual roles as master chefs AND bottom feeders they will only be paid in crumbs and strokes to their egos.

    but it’s not just about the money. it is also about dignity. i wish i could sit dave kim and oprah down for a minute and have them watch that famous scene from “the color purple” where a white woman approaches oprah’s character and thinks it is somehow an honor to ask, “would you like to be my maid?” oprah’s response: “HELL NO!”

    and that was a paying job…