Often, there is a debate between bands and clubs in terms of “bringing a crowd” to the venue. Many venues when booking bands will ask, “what size crowd can you bring?” The venues are relying on the band to bring a large crowd so they have a good night (money wise) and to pay for the cost of the band. Many times if the crowd is low, the venue will try to negotiate the band’s pay down at the end of the night. Yet, they never offer a bonus for a large crowd.
This approach is used by 90% of clubs/bars/venues and yet…it is the wrong business model and often leaves everyone unhappy at the end of the night. It is to the long-term advantage of the venue to invest in marketing and build their own solid base of customers and look at the band as a way to entertain the customer of the bar. And while, most bar owners will adamantly disagree with this, here are a few reasons support the business model of not relying on bands to bring the crowds:
- People don’t want to travel far distances to drink. The increase enforcement of DIU laws means that most people won’t travel more than a couple of miles to see a band. Bars want people that drink. With the increase enforcement, it’s not worth the risk of getting a DUI for people to drink and drive. They will wait to a band they like is closer to them to go and see them.
- It is in the best long-term interest for a bar to build their own crowd. A bar should work on building an environment and reputation of being a fun and quality to go. They should also work on building a reputation that their establishment is THE PLACE TO GO FOR QUALITY LIVE MUSIC. If the venue gives customers a great overall experience, the patrons are likely to go back more frequently and bring others with them regardless of who is playing.
- Relying a band to bring the crowd can hurt the venue on certain weeks. If a venue relies on the band to “bring the business for the night,” what happens on those weeks where the venue can’t book a really popular band or the bands booked don’t bring a large crowd? Simply, the venue suffers that night. More importantly, what happens if some of the popular bands break-up? The result is that the bar/venue invested too much in the band and not enough in building their own business. Relying on a band to build the business for the bar means that the club means they have no control over a major revenue source (the band) for their establishment.
- Start looking at bands as an entertainment expense. If a venue starts to budget for bands as an entertainment expense, the venue is likely to direct more efforts toward marketing and advertising to build awareness for the venue and to create a better experience for the patrons.
- Bands work to build large followings over a large geographic area. Most venues work at building patrons over a local or community area. A venue can’t have a popular band at their venue every month. It will simply burn out the patrons who attend the venue. Venues need to find quality bands and work with them to build a following for the venue.
While the venues need to start changing their thought process about using bands to “bring the crowds,” the bands do have a role in the process. Here are few things the bands should be doing to help the venues:
- Take an active role in supplying the venue with the assets the venue needs to promote the night the band is playing. This includes quality photos, logos, etc
- Bands should promote often on social media about the gig. Promotion should start a few weeks prior to the show and the posts should be repeated often. Bands should also set up invites and actively invite fans & friends to the show.
- Both the band and the venue to promote in many places. On social media, promotion needs to occur on more than just the band’s page or the venues page. Cross-post on different pages to reach new people who might be interested in the band or the venue.
Based on the number of live music venues that close within 1 to 2 years, it is time to take a fresh look at the current model of booking bands and re-evaluate it. Bands are musicians and not managers of the bar or venue. Many local business work hard at offering quality service to keep customers coming back. They stock their stores with quality products. The results are long-term business with loyal customers. Bars should do the same; work hard at providing great services/customer experience and offer a great product (food and entertainment) to keep customers coming back.