For any music fan, it is a dream to own and operate their own venue, putting on bands and even just being around the place is a fantastic way to spend your working life. If you have never run your own place, there is a lot that can go wrong, and you should be aware of these pitfalls. This concise guide will give you some expert pointers and tips that will assist you in navigating this crucial period setting the venue up.
Know Who Your Audience is
Although this isn’t true of every venue, many places make a name for themselves catering to a particular type of music. There are several advantages to this; firstly, you will get a loyal following, and customers can feel comfortable popping down on any night and may find an act that suits them. You also can put together a staff who are passionate about the type of acts and bands you are putting on.
Hire a Good Events Manager/Promoter
It may not be immediately apparent, but the experience that is needed to manage the bookings and schedule of a live music venue are vast. Not only would an experienced Events Manager know how to promote the events to get the best possible crowd, but they will also have a long list of contacts of acts and managers. Knowing how best to use social media, design promo material etc. will go a long way as well.
Every good venue must capitalize on merchandising opportunities, and it can be as iconic as the venue itself to have cool branded gear. Take the iconic CBGB club in New York, synonymous with the cities punk scene, and you can still see the venues T-shirts everywhere despite the club itself closing in 2006. You can easily get your merch manufactured, and online t-shirt designing makes this simple, even if you have no design skills.
This is an area that you ignore at your peril. Your venue can be in the best location, have a great calendar of events and look amazing, but if it sounds terrible, then this news will soon travel, and you will gain an unwanted reputation. There are a few aspects to designing the sound of a venue, you need a good quality PA and backline, and this needs to be combined with excellent acoustics. There is far too much involved in this to go into in great detail here, but for further reading in great detail, this fantastic article will give you food for thought.
Insurance & Legal Stuff
This is the boring part, but still essential that it is not ignored. Insurance is critical for any live venue, damage cover and that against public liability are something you cannot do without. You will also have a contractual situation with dozens, even hundreds, of acts each year. You must have a legally sound contract that covers payments and insurance for these performers as they are not staff and won’t be covered under any staff contracts.