Thinking of starting a music venue?

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Drinks are reasonable priced which I'm guessing is the old adage of 'make little but often' which probably gets him large discounts with the drinks wholesaler and in return higher profits than selling the drinks at a higher price.
That used to be a good model, but here in the US, drinking is way down. DUI criteria are getting lowered all the time and the police are watching folks leaving bars so much, many folks are reluctant to have more than a couple. I have no issue with keeping drunks from behind the wheel. I applaud this. But it has really hurt the bar business and by extension the live musicians ability to make a living.

So you're left with riding the fine line between prices for both drinks and cover that attract patrons and making enough to stay in business. Serving food brings in a whole 'nother set of regulatory folks, but it can add to the margin. Venue merch like t-shirts, hoodies, license plate frames can help your bottom line as well as help promote the venue. I am personally opposed to smoking (watched my mom die from it), but I recognize that it still exists, especially among the folks that go out to bars and music venues. And I've noticed that placed that have a semi sheltered area where smokers can go without huddling under a small porch, also keep more patrons for longer stretches of evenings.
 

Mosschops

Junior Member
£2/$3 On the door for a standard band night, one band sandwiched by a DJ. £5/$8 for a blow out of bands with no sandwiching, just live music.
Drinks are reasonable priced which I'm guessing is the old adage of 'make little but often' which probably gets him large discounts with the drinks wholesaler and in return higher profits than selling the drinks at a higher price.
 

Mosschops

Junior Member
That sounds like exactly what I was thinking. An entertainment place that could really cater to a younger crowd. If you can could you tell me more about the place, like the size, the ticket price, if they have food, how often they had bands play I would really appreciate it.
As soon as her social calendar will allow the time for such questions I'll glean the information and pass it back to you ;)
If I had one solid piece of planning advice it would be what genres would make it easy for the police? Who around here have a great influence on entertainment licenses.
 

TNA

Senior Member
Although in the UK and not Phoenix USA, we had a similar type bar start up here last year and its become extremely popular.
What I do notice is how they cater for all genres. They have acoustic evenings, Rock, Metal & DJ ones which gives all the kids there own particular genre night to get together. Its alcohol free but the bar tenders make it as adult as possible by mixing up show cocktails for the girls and having draught alcohol free beer in man sized vessels for the boys.

One thing that has had the community rally behind the idea was the venue having the local police involved. Anyone picking up their teens late at night see a comforting police presence not only directly outside the venue but also a street away in either direction. I once parked a street away to pick up our 16 year old daughter and was asked by the police what my intentions were, which I took as quite comforting for me as a parent.

Having genre nights could be a way of spreading your bets and then dwindling the whole range down to your most profitable nights but whatever you choose to do you have my wishes.
That sounds like exactly what I was thinking. An entertainment place that could really cater to a younger crowd. If you can could you tell me more about the place, like the size, the ticket price, if they have food, how often they had bands play I would really appreciate it.

I'm off Happy Valley Road and 67th Ave. There's definitely nothing out this way as far as decent venues but I think the reason Tempe has all of the venues is because of ASU. Bulldogs was at 50 something-th ave and Glendale but it didn't last long. It's a pretty risky venture to get in to.
Ok thats a bit more west than me, but if I remember correctly its really growing out there also. I just graduated from ASU, and played all the places around there, and I never really noticed a big college crowd. But ya like you said there's nothing up north
 

Mosschops

Junior Member
Although in the UK and not Phoenix USA, we had a similar type bar start up here last year and its become extremely popular.
What I do notice is how they cater for all genres. They have acoustic evenings, Rock, Metal & DJ ones which gives all the kids there own particular genre night to get together. Its alcohol free but the bar tenders make it as adult as possible by mixing up show cocktails for the girls and having draught alcohol free beer in man sized vessels for the boys.

One thing that has had the community rally behind the idea was the venue having the local police involved. Anyone picking up their teens late at night see a comforting police presence not only directly outside the venue but also a street away in either direction. I once parked a street away to pick up our 16 year old daughter and was asked by the police what my intentions were, which I took as quite comforting for me as a parent.

Having genre nights could be a way of spreading your bets and then dwindling the whole range down to your most profitable nights but whatever you choose to do you have my wishes.
 

Timekeep69

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice everyone, it's just an idea right now so who knows if it will ever actually happen. Timekeep what part of Phoenix are you in? I am near like cave creek and north scottsdale area. If you live around there do you think there would be a market there. Like I said before most of the venues are in Tempe and Mesa area. The only place I know that is relatively north is Joe's Grotto.
I'm off Happy Valley Road and 67th Ave. There's definitely nothing out this way as far as decent venues but I think the reason Tempe has all of the venues is because of ASU. Bulldogs was at 50 something-th ave and Glendale but it didn't last long. It's a pretty risky venture to get in to.
 

TNA

Senior Member
Thanks for the advice everyone, it's just an idea right now so who knows if it will ever actually happen. Timekeep what part of Phoenix are you in? I am near like cave creek and north scottsdale area. If you live around there do you think there would be a market there. Like I said before most of the venues are in Tempe and Mesa area. The only place I know that is relatively north is Joe's Grotto.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
Just don't rely on the bands to bring in a lot of people, or do your publicity for you. That's a mistake a lot of local clubs make- the venue has no draw of its own, and unrealistically expects groups to produce their own personal flash mob the first time out. The Portland venues that have been around the longest usually have the same bands on at least half the nights for months or years running.

You might also considering partnering with an arts/music association. Recently the Creative Music Guild (they handle avant-garde music) in Portland put on a show featuring Jim Black and Chris Speed; the venue was completely random, there was zero advance publicity and the weather sucked, but word spread fast among organization members and they packed the place.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Best advice I've ever heard is to create your own apprenticeship/intership. Get a job in a similar kind of place. Better if it's lower level. Learn the ropes from the inside. See how things work, who can rip the owner off and how. Where the waste is, and so on.

I know a fellow who has built up a string of sandwich shops and the like by buying out failing businesses. He always goes in undercover for a month or two before finalizing the purchase to see what the lay of the land is. If he sees waste (often the result of giving jobs to family and friends) that he can straighten out, he goes though with the deal, takes over and makes the necessary changes. After cleaning up the mess, he looks for someone he can trust to keep the place going and then moves on to the next strike.

If you are going to deal with alcohol (and you basically will need to to have a viable business), find someone you can trust who is a head bartender or club manager. It's a dirty nasty underhanded business and you need someone on your side who knows the ropes. Make them a minority partner or some incentive to make the thing work instead of fleecing you for whatever you've got before moving on to the next sucker.

I've known a few musicians/fans/other civilians who've tried to start up venues with the idea that they are going to do it "right". They typically overinvest in something like decor or a fancy sound system to make it into the kind of place they would like to play in, and then can't recover.

There was a fellow on the ProSoundWeb who ran though the whole gamut of things. He finally gave up and shut it down over building issues with the space he'd leased. Lost a big bundle.

All that said, best of luck to you. We need more folks willing to put themselves out there to create support for live music and musicians.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
As any business startup:

You need a USP that satisfies a provable need of sufficient mass.

You need funds that support your business plan cashflow needs x 1.5 x twice as long as you think.

You need a plan B before you embark on plan A.

Your parents run businesses, so they can run you through the basics, but beware hidden costs & circumstances.

Ask yourself;

What happens if I'm taken ill?
Am I sufficiently insured?
Am I detatched enough to regard it as a business when it's also my hobby/interest/passion?

Please don't take this as a put off post, it isn't, but take advice, do your research, divide everything positive by 2, multiply every potential negative x 2, & you'll stand a chance of making a go of it. One good point, if you can start any business, & keep it growing during a recession, you're set!

I've started & run numerous buisinesses of different sizes, & it's a buzz when it takes off. Good luck, & if the boxes are ticked, jump in!
 

droveto

Senior Member
I've run bars and restaurants in NY. Everything from $200k/year to $5 Mill/year.
It's certainly hard. You have to worry about staff stealing and giving out free stuff and you have to approach it in a way that the staff doesn't feel they're benig watched like hawks.
I could go on for hours and hours...
I recently took a break from managing bars/restaurants but if you're willing to hire a head bartender/manager I'd relocated for a musical venue. I've done booking of jazz bands to acousic acts, etc., but never an all out music club. I tended to work at more bar/drinks oriented places from a champagne bar in times square, to a full blown college drunken festival where all kinds of debauchery took place.
You have to ready and willing to hire and fire often and keep a positive attitude through it all. When I was managing places, I worked about 80 hours/week and took 2 days off/month at most...
 

dairyairman

Platinum Member
some of the live venues around here who serve beer and liquor have "all ages shows" where anyone can get in. they carefully check ids at the door and put wristbands only on the people who are legal to buy drinks. that seems to be a good way to do it because a lot of bands have most of their following among the underage crowd. the venues are happy because they can still sell drinks, which is how they make their money.
 

TNA

Senior Member
I think most of you somewhat misunderstand my intentions. Being a musician I of course do care about the bands and the music. But I would be a business owner first, which means that the number one priority would be to make money and keep the place open. So while I would definitely try to treat the musicians better than most, it's always about the customers.

I like the some days over 21 some days under idea. But part of the reason I was leaning towards no alcohol is because it seems a lot harder to serve alcohol than not. Getting a liquor license, and stocking, and serving. Seems like things get a lot more involved, and more expensive when alcohol is introduced.
 

Coldhardsteel

Gold Member
A place my friend runs mixes it up - they have over 18 nights, and under 18 nights. The under 18 ones sell out, generally, and the artists are happy to play them as its an audience they wouldn't otherwise get to play to.

Who is to say that your venue has to be strictly one or the other?
This is a good idea, especially if you plan on serving alcohol, so you wouldn't have to limit yourself to a certain audience.

Aydee mentioned being fair and respectful of the artists that would play your venue, and I can't agree with him more. If a local band liked playing at a venue, they'll talk about it, inevitably. Building a good rep is what gets a place customers.

My advice is to put a lot of thought into the design of this venue. Many a place have I visited that could have been great eats and such, but the atmosphere didn't cut it. Cheesiness will not draw people, nor will gaudiness, or any other sort of excess. If your going to have a sort of focus on musical acts as well, make sure it's very artist friendly, such as convenient sound systems, good stage, placing, acoustics, whatever you can think of.
 

The Modernist

Senior Member
A place my friend runs mixes it up - they have over 18 nights, and under 18 nights. The under 18 ones sell out, generally, and the artists are happy to play them as its an audience they wouldn't otherwise get to play to.

Who is to say that your venue has to be strictly one or the other?
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

Dont really know how the teen joints work ( it was a long time ago that I was one.. ) but the theory remains the same I'd imagine. Night out = game rooms, nachos, dating, horseplay and throw in some live music.

Smilarly listening to good live music means a night out /means a few drinks/ and some food along the way. Other than hard core musicians and there aint that many of them out there, I cant think of who would bother stepping out for the evening, going to a bar, then going to listen to music, and the grab a bite somewhere else..

Cant think of to many places which only serve music.


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bryanmurr

Senior Member
Teen clubs do not really work well here. But they may do well where you are at. I would think about it for along time. We have had afew all ages places that are mostly a teen hang out. A glorified game room. They had pool tables, air hockey, darts and some video games. And of course live music, nachos, frito pies, and colas. I thought it was great because it gives some of the younger musicians a place to play. I was young and looking to play once too. We have had several of these places throughout the years. I even played at one when i was about 15. Even now the thought of maybe playing a alcohol free enviroment is very tempting. I dream of a place where people came just to listen to music. But in reality they dont seem to work. Well atleast not around here. What has happened around here is the teen clubs get closed down. Either the kids get caught underage drinking or maybe smoking cigs or illegal stuff and the place gets shut down by the community. I am not trying to be a downer either. This is just my experience with non alcohol places.
 

TNA

Senior Member
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Sounds like a plan, TNA, but I still suggest you do a business plan first. It must be self sustaining at outset, at the very least. Also I find it hard to envisage a plan that doesnt include alchohol .

I've seen way too many clubs start with the noblest of intentions, great ideas to present good music in a condusive enviroment etc, but as the overheads and other unexpected costs start to mount, the natural inclination is to cut corners and the hell with the music and of of course nobody wants to be losing money.

By no means do I mean to be a downer, and if you can start something up north that works for you, thats great. Just go in with your eyes open.

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I forgot to mention that I would be doing a cover charge. I just think that the market in this area is more under 21 than over, and I know I have played at a lot of the other venues in Phoenix that were 21 and over and they had to decline a ton of people, or we ended up sneaking people in. I know its a super risky business, but I really think I got the market cornered out here. But like I said this idea just popped into my head the other day, so as of right now its just an idea. Both my parents own businesses so I know there are a lot of unexpected costs, probably many start up costs I am forgetting also. Anyways thanks for the input.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
..

Sounds like a plan, TNA, but I still suggest you do a business plan first. It must be self sustaining at outset, at the very least. Also I find it hard to envisage a plan that doesnt include alchohol .

I've seen way too many clubs start with the noblest of intentions, great ideas to present good music in a condusive enviroment etc, but as the overheads and other unexpected costs start to mount, the natural inclination is to cut corners and the hell with the music and of of course nobody wants to be losing money.

By no means do I mean to be a downer, and if you can start something up north that works for you, thats great. Just go in with your eyes open.

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