A simple question for music venues…

Open the doors...where are the people?
Open the doors…where are the people?


“What’s your following?”  That’s right – what’s the following of your music venue?  Isn’t that a fair question?  Bands get hit with that one occasionally, and sometimes often.  But seriously, you opened this business, with the intention of providing music to the community.  So again, what’s your following?



“We count on the bands to bring their following”

That’s completely foolish.  Musicians aren’t marketing pros.  The average musician doesn’t possess an MBA – many good ones have no college degree whatsoever.  And ideally, any waking hours a musician has should be spent honing their craft, trying to create a jaw-dropping display of talent and/or entertainment value, not walking around with a sandwich board.

Do you realize how many hats the average band has to wear just to get off the ground?  Someone has to write the songs.  Someone has to learn the songs.  Someone has to learn the songs better and replace the people that weren’t playing them so well.  Someone has to record and copyright the music.  Someone has to handle social media, and graphic art, and alcoholism, mental illness, and marriage disputes.  Someone has to book the shows and someone has to follow up to make sure the show isn’t double or triple-booked.  Someone has to coordinate (or be) the “street team” and…that’s your venue’s marketing strategy?!?


Lastly (and many thanks to L.A. musician Dave Goldberg for this insight), if you are counting on bands to supply clientele, you will never have a consistent cash flow.  You will be dependent upon the bands to bring the customers every single night.  In the business world (and you are in the business world), that’s the equivalent of having to rebuild sales from scratch…every single day.  Good luck with that.


Is there possibly something wrong with your joint?

Have you reviewed your business in a while?  Maybe there are a couple very good reasons why you are not known as a music venue with a following…

  • Poor customer service tends to top the list in any business. Is the wait staff making your customers wait?  Does the owner bother to walk around to gauge quality control?  Or is the door guy basically in charge?
  • Is the quality of music in your venue inconsistent and/or just plain terrible? Maybe your brother-in-law shouldn’t have first crack as the “house band.”  It’s pretty simple: people have lots of choices these days and amateur music drives people away.  Who’s in charge of quality control there?
  • Does the sound system need an upgrade? Not having quality PA gear at a music venue is like not having a quality freezer in an ice cream shop.  And if you don’t even have a PA, and you promote yourself as a live music venue…are you serious?  Are you sure you are not just a bar?
  • Is the sound too loud for the room? If you really don’t know the answer to this question, you probably won’t own this “music venue” for very long…
  • Are the bands being treated badly?  Double booking?  Poor pay?  No pay?!?  Another little note from the business world: people don’t usually tell you when they’ve had a bad experience at your place…but they will tell LOTS of other people.  Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
  • Are you killing your customers?  Read here to learn more, but bottom line – when your customers are dead…they don’t usually come back.
  • Are you a “Me too!” kind of venue? Is the owner so unimaginative that you haven’t tried to create something unique in the marketplace?  So, you sell drinks and have live music – maybe you could draw more people selling drinks and playing Bingo?
  • No advertising? This is one of the easiest things a venue can do.  Are you waiting around for bands to bring you their precious marketing flyers?  And how many shows have you gone to, based on seeing a flyer?  Real advertising is a little more complicated than that.

You may notice that the one common denominator here is Quality, or lack thereof.  A band needs to focus on the quality of their product if they expect to develop a following.  Likewise, a music venue will never develop a following if they are ignorant of quality.  We’ll take a closer look at music customer buying habits next…

Audiences have a lot of options these days… [Shown here, a Samsung virtual reality music concert]

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