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Old 12-17-2010, 07:59 AM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Thinking of starting a music venue?

So I have been considering starting a very small music venue. I know that it's definitely not as easy as it sounds, and will probably cost way more to start than I have, but this sounds like something I'd really like to do. I want to open a place in north Phoenix because there is really nothing in that part of Phoenix, and there's a lot of people living out there. I would really be looking only for local bands and keeping it small, possibly getting bigger later? However, I really have no idea how hard running a venue is, or if it is even going to be worth it, or if I will even turn a profit from it. So does anyone got any experience running one, working one, or any other similar business experiences?
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:30 AM
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bryanmurr bryanmurr is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

When you say music venue, do you mean a bar? Or do you mean music only and no liquor. Without the bar it will be extremly hard. How is the music scene there? I live in a suburb or new orleans la. And we have times where people really come out and support the local guys and then we have times where free beer wont even get them in the door. But i live in a little town. Sometimes its just better to take the 30 minute ride to new orleans where you have many choices. So you must look into your music scene. Dont just assume you will make a music scene by opening up a place. That may or may not happen but it is extremly risky.So giving the most important thing---- a good music scene. Lets move on to liquor.....most places that have music usually have liquor around here. I can only think of one place in new orleans that has music and no liquor ---- well they have no drinks of any kind there and you have to sit on the floor-----its a old jazz club in new orleans and they can get away with that. It may be different in your town but i will assume you are going to have liquor..You will need a liquor license. Can you get a liquor license?? You may not depending on your towns rules for such license. Which can range from your location to your own personal record. You will also need insurance. Bar insurance is not cheap and can sometimes be required for a liquor license. Now lets say you have all of that and you open up. The first few months you might do really well. Then you may have a drop in buisness. We sometimes call it the grand decline after the grand opening. You have to be prepared to pay the bars bills and they may be more than you are bringing in......

Im sorry such a long post. Im not trying to kill your dreams. I have just seen 3 good friends open bars hoping to grab the music scene and they all had a really hard time. 2 of them shut down the first year. 1 stayed open for 5 years. Im not saying you cant make it. If you decide to do it i wish you luck
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:33 AM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

...

Profit is made on the sale of alchohol and to a lesser extent the food. Then the x-factor, or the 'coolth' or the vibe of the place is what determines its success and turnover. If a band of some noteriety is playing then you could possibly have a cover charge.( This is largely the band's revenue but in some cases shared with the club )

Location and parking are huge & very key issues. Much thought should be put in making that decision.

A word of advice. Keep your dealings with bands very fair, respectful of the music and the musicians. Most club owners dont do that for petty reasons for saving a buck or two, but those that do, benifit greatly from the reputation a place like this could develop.

good luck.

...
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:14 AM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

Thanks guys. I'm not sure about having alcohol or not, I just got the whole idea the other day so I'm not even close to getting into details. But I'd have to look into liquor licenses, but I think if I did serve alcohol that would probably make it a 21 and over place, something I'm not sure I would want. The town is really centered around the school district there, and I think most of the money is going to come from teens. So that being the case, food and non-alcoholic drinks could still bring in some good money. But of course alcohol is always an attractor.

I think I would also be doing a cover charge every other venue in AZ does so it's not like it would be out of the ordinary. Probably under $10. Also, not sure how venues do it around you guys but here, they make the bands sell tickets beforehand, which gives a little insurance to the amount of people who show up that night.

As for the music scene, if you're not familiar with Arizona most of the city life and entertainment is in Tempe which is near south Phoenix. The state as a whole has a fairly good music scene, but it is concentrated in Tempe. But also most of the venues are in Tempe and there is really nothing in the north part of Phoenix. I believe that the music scene in north Phoenix is fair, and I know that any band that wanted to play had to travel to Tempe. So I think this leaves a huge opportunity to capture essentially the north half of the states music market. I'll probably do some more research on this. But me and other family and friends have been commenting for years about there being very little entertainment up by where we live, and there is a ton of teens with money sitting around.

Last edited by TNA; 12-17-2010 at 10:13 AM.
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  #5  
Old 12-17-2010, 10:00 AM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

..

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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Old 12-17-2010, 10:10 AM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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Originally Posted by aydee View Post
..

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.

...
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.
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:21 AM
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bryanmurr bryanmurr is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:14 AM
aydee aydee is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

...

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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  #9  
Old 12-17-2010, 01:33 PM
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The Modernist The Modernist is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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?
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  #10  
Old 12-17-2010, 04:02 PM
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Coldhardsteel Coldhardsteel is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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Originally Posted by The Modernist View Post
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.
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  #11  
Old 12-17-2010, 05:38 PM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-17-2010, 07:19 PM
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dairyairman dairyairman is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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  #13  
Old 12-17-2010, 07:44 PM
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Timekeep69 Timekeep69 is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

I'm in North Phoenix, let me know if I can help ya out!
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  #14  
Old 12-17-2010, 08:14 PM
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droveto droveto is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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...
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:31 PM
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keep it simple keep it simple is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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!
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:06 AM
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Aeolian Aeolian is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:23 AM
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 01:29 AM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:28 AM
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Timekeep69 Timekeep69 is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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Originally Posted by TNA View Post
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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:32 AM
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:49 AM
TNA TNA is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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Originally Posted by Mosschops View Post
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.

Quote:
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
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:33 AM
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Mosschops Mosschops is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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Originally Posted by TNA View Post
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.
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:52 PM
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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.
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Old 12-19-2010, 06:58 AM
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Aeolian Aeolian is offline
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Default Re: Thinking of starting a music venue?

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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.
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