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Big-time rapper demands big-time payout

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Colorado State University-Pueblo will welcome hip-hop star Ludacris tonight as he headlines the university’s spring concert.

In order for the university to attract Ludacris, CSU-Pueblo had to sign a business and technical production rider.

Riders are standard operating procedure for all recording artists. A visit to TheSmokingGun.com will reveal contract riders from many of today’s most popular musical recording acts.

Ludacris’ 2009 rider, which was obtained from the CSU-Pueblo Student Activities office, details requirements that the management team feel are necessary to enable him to present the best possible show for patrons.

The document is 17 pages and includes the business aspects of the show such as Ludacris’ appearance payment, permits, licenses, insurance, complimentary tickets and ground transportation requirements.

The technical aspects of the rider include production, equipment, dressing room requirements, security and tour credential requests.

The management team added a hospitality rider at the end of the contract. This rider states the university must provide breakfast and lunch for 12 people, and dinner for at least 15 people with a specific dinner menu.

Many consider it a great coup for CSU-Pueblo to attract an artist of Ludacris’ stature to perform at the university. The show could bring attention and publicity to the school and could attract new recruits to CSU-Pueblo who view the university as a hip place to be.

But there are costs associated with tonight’s concert.

Ludacris has been at the center of controversy since his debut in 2000. Conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly attacked Ludacris’ lyrics in 2002, deeming them misogynistic, and successfully led a boycott of the musical artist.

Ludacris eventually lost a lucrative contract with Pepsi in part because of O’Reilly’s repeated attacks on his character.

A look at Ludacris’ 2004 Chicken-n-Beer tour rider reveals the artist and his management team required one case of assorted soda, but explicitly stated no Pepsi.

CSU-Pueblo could not only face a possible reputation risk by having a controversial artist perform on campus, but a financial risk as well.

The hospitality portion of the rider requires that complimentary food and beverages are to be provided for Ludacris and his crew. In addition, the contract requires four first class, four business class and four coach airline tickets to be provided, and the tickets may not be the usual non-transferable, non-refundable type.

Ludacris earned $14 million in 2008, which ranked him number 10th on Forbes.com’s wealthiest hip-hop stars, yet his management team and Ludacris himself require all tour stops to be comped this way.