Battles bring together dancers or rappers who want to express their talent by confronting others, aiming to judge their artistry and establish their own reputation. This format highlights some of the foundations of hip-hop, including exceeding your limits and healthy competition among rivals. It’s quickly become highly popular and can be adapted to any size — such as the Juste Debout battle at the Accord Arena in Paris, and neighbourhood events organised by local youth clubs or cultural associations — and to all audiences, be they professionals or novices. Organising a battle is in everyone’s reach, and with good reason. Here are 7 essential tips for successfully organising your battle.
- Structure your organisation
- Opt for leading disciplines
- Find your speaker or MC
- Select an attractive and suitable jury
- Choose a ticketing tool
- Communicate regularly to attract members of the public
- Book a battle DJ
Organising such an event requires a first step well in advance of preparation: structuring. The simplest model is that of an association, based on the French law of 1901. You can tick all the boxes for organising a battle with this status, but there’s one important point that remains: the association is not for profit. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make a profit by organising an event, but you won’t be able to pay yourself as an organiser if you’re the president, treasurer, or member of the association. Still, with association status, you’ll be able to declare your events to the local authorities, submit your declaration to SACEM (the French professional music association), invoice your contributors — e.g. suppliers, speakers, judges — and manage your ticketing system.
Most battles are associated with a discipline. Juste Debout (mentioned above) is an event for dancers. End Of The Weak is a rap battle. In Paris, the Ready Or Not label has opted for an interdisciplinary battle that brings together the key disciplines of rap, dance, DJing and graffiti within a single space. By embracing the DIY spirit, they’ve managed to bring about the very essence of hip-hop as it was expressed across the Atlantic at the birth of the movement, with events like block parties.
You can’t have a battle without a speaker. They act as the conductor for your event. They know the attendees and can use their extraordinary verve to give the battle just the right rhythm, while managing to captivate the audience that’s travelled for your event.
Their role is essential: if your event lacks rhythm, your audience will lose track and will no longer be interested in the competition. Their role is also to spur on the artists who’ve come to earn the title of winner of your edition. They are often forgotten or neglected, despite being the master of ceremonies (MC) — an indispensable component of your battle.
Whether in dance, rap — also called a ‘cypher’ (or ‘cipher’) — DJing, beatmaking or graffiti, battles push rappers, B-boys and artists to give their best in order to be crowned winner by a jury. The jury is usually composed of 3 to 5 people chosen for their experience or reputation, and is tasked with making the final decision and selecting the champion of the battle.
As the jury’s mission is to decide between the candidates, this can create problems when organising your event. An organiser who lacks the network or knowledge needed to tackle this role might be caught off guard and not know where to turn. Talk about this as much as possible with those around you or call on third parties who can advise and guide you. These third parties can take many forms, including artists’ managers, independent labels, and specialised agencies.
Several services for ticketing management are available to you. The oldest method is still the cash register and counterfoil books, but modern means don’t necessarily mean higher costs. For instance, Weezevent offers turnkey services to facilitate the management process via an online ticketing system.
This system offers significant advantages for preparing your battle. Depending on the number of sales or registrations carried out at a given time, you can predict your attendance in advance in order to adjust your communication campaigns and your various budgets — e.g. on-site catering, security, etc. At the same time, it allows you to retrieve extremely important data for your future communication campaigns. Who comes to your events? How should you contact them again? Successful events are renewed events. If a project is successful, make it as easy as possible for yourself to repeat the operation.
Although this may seem obvious, there won’t be a show if your audience isn’t there. The presence of a curious, motivated and encouraging audience will allow the artists to perform at the top of their game. The audience is always shy at the start of a battle, which is where the role of the speaker comes in. They can reassure the audience and ask them to come closer and make noise, just as a crowd warmer would.
Successful communication will ensure your event has an audience, as well as fame and visibility. This communication can be led in different ways. We recommend that you both print and broadcast your visuals on social networks as efficiently as possible by optimising your posts and seeking to be original in how you communicate. When it comes to communication, regularity is key.
Now that you have a speaker, attendees, a jury and an audience, you just need a master of the turntable. The DJ will set the mood, and a good DJ will set just the right tone. Without music, the battle can’t take place, and the atmosphere will be nonexistent. DJs’ fees vary, but you’ll need to allocate a certain amount of money if you want to hire the services of a DJ who’s more or less established. Beware: an excellent DJ for parties and private events might be a mediocre DJ for battles. This is a completely different exercise that requires a minimum level of experience to be mastered.
You’ve now got all the essentials for organising a successful battle. Remember that your event might also be eligible for a subsidy; find out as much as you can about the assistance that could be available to you. Be ambitious in your approach, and above all plan your event in a specific, applied way to make a great success of it. Discover all of Weezevent’s tools for organising a successful battle: