KSI: ‘I was struggling to sell tickets to gigs in 2019’on March 25, 2021 at 12:34 am

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Newsbeat speaks to one of YouTube’s biggest stars about what’s next after selling out his 2021 tour.


“It’s a lot more fake, there’s a lot more sly people,” says KSI about the music industry, compared to the world of YouTube.

The 27-year-old is still getting used to life as a successful recording artist.

He’s now had six top 10 singles in the UK, alongside a debut album that went to number two.

But despite his success, KSI isn’t getting complacent about his future within the industry.

“If you flop a few times, then everyone just kind of runs away. Then you’re like, ‘oh I thought I had friends’,” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“You need to take it with a pinch of salt and not take anything too personally. Because ultimately it’s a business. I’m starting to learn that.”

It’s a different arena to YouTube, a world which he’s dominated for years.

“With YouTube it’s a lot more friendly, everyone’s actually just cool and it’s not like everyone’s trying to backstab.

“I don’t want to make it sound like the music industry’s terrible, there’s obviously great parts to it as well.”

KSI performing on stage

image copyrightGetty Images

For KSI – real name Olajide William Olatunji or JJ to friends and family – most of those great parts have come in the last year.

“The annoying thing is I’ve really blown up during lockdown,” he says.

“I haven’t had the chance to go to any of these crazy parties as who I am now, compared to back then when I was kind of a nobody in the music industry.”

It’s not stopped him making friends with some pretty successful artists, including Anne-Marie, Craig David and Yungblud.

The latter features on KSI’s latest single Patience but he says he’s keen to make music by himself.

“That’s also another thing that people like to say, that I get carried by features.”

“I’m excited to do a song where it’s just me, no features, and prove that I can get another top 10 by myself.”

His ultimate goal is a number one single and a number one album.

The YouTuber, turned boxer, turned rapper – who now has over 22 million subscribers on his channel – will be playing to thousands of fans on the main stage at Reading and Leeds in August.

It’s the warm up to his tour of the UK and Ireland in October which has already sold out.

But it’s not been an easy ride. Two years ago, KSI says he was struggling to even sell tickets to his gigs.

During a set of shows in Europe he says, slightly embarrassed, a venue actually had to reduce its capacity and corner off certain areas so it looked like there were more people in the crowd.

“There was only 15-20 people there,” he adds. “It was just awkward”.

And then came 2020. Seven UK Top 40 hits and a debut album that only narrowly lost out on top spot to The 1975 – the band’s fourth consecutive number one album.


image copyrightGetty Images

So what about 2021?

Well, they’ll be another album, “hopefully in July”.

“There’s a few top top-tier American rappers that are going to be on the album,” he teases.

“I’ve got a few top-tier UK artists as well. It’s just a good mix.”

And that’s not all, last month he launched a new record label called The Online Takeover with his manager Mams Taylor and he has got pretty big aspirations for it.

“I want to move like Lil Wayne with Nicki Minaj, Tyga and Drake” he says referring to Wayne’s massively successful Young Money record label.

“I want to make an artist bigger than me to the point where I can relax and I’m still making money”

It’s easy to forget that this 27-year-old has been making a name for himself on YouTube for over a decade.

He reached a million subscribers in 2012 and dropped out of sixth form to pursue YouTube full time.

“I’m only getting older,” says KSI. “I’m going to want to settle down and have kids and have a family”.

As for the next 10 years?

“I hate this question, because I have no idea,” KSI says with one of his trademark laughs.

“I didn’t think three years ago I’d be fighting Joe Weller or Logan Paul, or I’d have six top tens under my belt.

“Next year I could be on Mars… we don’t know.”


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