#1
I didn't know what forum to post this in, but I was afraid of getting silly replies in The Pit, so I'm posting it here.

Anyway. I help at a Christian venue a lot. Well, it's Christian oriented. We have a lot of secular bands as long as it's not profane. We love the metalcore scene, although we try to balance it equally unbiassedly with the rock, punk and acoustic stuff. We print about 800 flyers for each show along with posters to advertise.

We have a hard time bringing in a lot of traffic. We've had a few smaller names off the Tooth & Nail label play and we still have difficulty. The only show we did extremely well on was Disciple, where we sold 370+ tickets. But they also cost a lot to bring in. We've been open for about 4 months as far as a venue goes, and we typically average 20-30 people. We obviously need a lot more than that.

If anyone has any suggestions on what we can do to make it better, that'd be amazing.
Last edited by Shawnstoppable at Aug 15, 2008,
#2
Get bigger bands? are small venue the Crocodile Rock does extremely well all they do is 1. Have a wicked awesome sign 2. Get lots of Death Metal bands 3. with all the money from the death metal they get bands like Reliant K, Seether, Senses Fail, Shinedown. and completley sell out and thats what they do
#3
Pick your bands, try and find out who has the biggest following. In my experience, bands will rarely say no to a gig, especially if you offer it to them. My band have to beg just to play in tiny, scummy places.
#4
This is SUCH a difficult question, because there is no 'one-size-fits-all' answer.

Rockfan's answer, though marginally accurate in principle, is not near as easy as it sounds. Sure, you can get bigger bands in, but they cost more. If they want a $2000 guarantee, and the venue fails to (and this happens a LOT) sell 200 tix at $10 a shot..... even if they were selling beer, they'd have to be selling IT just to make up the shortfall to pay the band. Never mind all the other expenses of running a venue. And of course... if they could pull 200 people in at $10 a tic, he wouldn't be asking, then, would he? :p

To get the better bands, you have to provide a venue they want to play at. No pay to play or having bands buy their tix off you so they can re-sell them (maybe.... or not....), etc. That keeps bands away. Having a good sound and lighting rig helps, as does having a sound person who knows what s/he is doing. Treating them well.

Of course, every band likes to play a venue that already has a good crowd... and the circle is again complete. Grrr....

One guy around here does really well... he caters to a niche genre - the indie rock scene. It is a small market base, but he knows where they are, and how to appeal to them, so they go to his club. Kind of the same principle that gay bars work on.... haha. In addition, he is active on an internet discussion group that caters to local music, and is, in fact, the moderator of the group. He hires people in bands to work at his club so that even when the kid's band is not playing, his friends are still showing up to hang out when he's working. Based on this 'friendship' (or symbiotic relationship.... more that really...), he can often get away with paying the kid's band less than he would pay an outsider band because, well.... they're compadres.

Your venue needs to appeal to whatever demographic you are after. Being a Christian-oriented venue, you try to bring in bands that appeal to that. Good start. Be sure, also, to keep the place clean. A coat of paint, some furnishings, new chairs, etc. Make it inviting. And for goodness sake... make sure the bathrooms are clean. There is no better way of scaring the girls off than having dirty bathrooms, and if you scare the girls away, you're going to end up running a Christian gay bar or closing due to non-existant traffic.

Having good food helps. I know people who go to a certain place because of their wings, or because of their nachos, or even their falafels. Have something that gives people a reason to come - even if there isn't a band playing.

One more thing.... especially when you have a small clintel.... keep a small and regular staff. Make sure that staff tries to get to know customers by name. I love it when I can call my local Chinese restaurant, and Annie recognizes my voice, and asks if I want the usual combo for two. So much so that when we moved, I still trek half way across town to go there. Same with going to the music store and John knows what kind of gear I have and what my band is called, etc. If you can personalize service, you make a friend. That friend will come back time and again.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
Last edited by axemanchris at Aug 13, 2008,
#5
^^This guy is absolutely right. So much about business is about relationships. I know I'm very into "the usual." There are a few restaurants I go to where a few of the workers know who I am only because I go there a lot. Nights when all of "my workers" are there are always more enjoyable than when none of them are. Also, any time I go into guitar center, there is only one guy I ever buy from. Hell he is the only guy I will even ask his opinion of there. It's nice walking in and right away hearing, "oh hey man, how did that 6505 sound last week when you finally took it to band practice and had some drums backing that thing up?" It's much nicer than "hi can I help you?."

Make your place as personal as you can get with out just being weird. Try to make some friends with the bands you book. Bands will promote the shows at the "better" venues heavier, and for a local band, what venue is bigger than one your friend is running?

And why not try doing special events? You can draw people in without them having heard of any of the bands before if you have something cool going on. Throw an all day concert! I know that summer is coming to end, why not have an end of summer concert? And what about battle of the bands? Those always have a good amount of people there! If you get enough bands to enter, not only do you have them playing for free, but you can draw it out over multiple nights. In theory, you could have 4 straight friday night shows with out you losing any money to bands.

And my last note, no promoting is more efficient than word of mouth. You treat a band great, and guess what, they'll want to come back to that venue. Chances are, they're going to tell their friend's bands about you guys, and then they'll want to play a show there. Once you get more and more bands playing, you get more and more people coming to watch. And this last part will take a lot of work by you, but it can turn out good. Try not to book bands that have the same following. Let's say in one group of friends there are 3 people that are in a band, each one in a seperate one. If one of those bands is playing a show, their close friends are going to come. If you book all 3, then you have 1 crowd for every 3 bands. Like I said, this part would take work, and would probably take a lot of time to figure it all out, but could be worth it.

Hope I helped, and good luck \m/
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Last edited by alienboy18241 at Aug 14, 2008,
#6
Tough question.

I have some experience at running music venues, so allow me to introduce you to a term used in venue promotion.
'Base market.'
The 'base market' is the population of people that you can feasably draw an audience from. You can have a 'narrow' base market which means you just cater to a very particular audience, maybe just bands that are of one particular genre, or you can have a 'wide' base market, which means you cater for all sorts of tastes.
In the general business of venue promotion, wide base markets are good, narrow base markets are bad and anything that can 'cut' your base market should be avoided if possible.

Running a successful venue is a complicated thing that depends on many factors.
It's obviously all about attracting people to your venue and I think that maybe running a venue that is known as a 'Christian' venue may actualy be harmful to your aims because you may be alienating people from other faiths and/or people who are not religious.
It doesn't matter if most of the bands you have on aren't actualy 'Christian' bands, a person who isn't religious will look at a venue that is known as a 'Christian venue' and imagine that someone is going to preach to them or try to convert them in some way and they will generaly avoid it like the plague. A person who is from a different faith to Christianity would probably avoid it on religious principle.
That obviously means that straight away, by having a 'Christian' label attached to your venue, you automaticaly cut down the size of the population that you can draw an audience from.
In other words, it 'cuts your base market.'
For this reason, I would advise you to re-launch your venue under a different name (to get away from the stigma of the venue's rep as a 'Christian venue') with no mention of Christianity in the advertisements.
It doesn't mean that you have to drop your policy of not booking profane bands, many non Christian venues have the exact same policy, it just means that if you drop the 'Christian' label, you'll be able to draw an audience from a wider base market.
I honestly don't mean any of that to sound disrespectful to your faith, but it's an important point that needs mentioning.
Look at it this way, if you are doing this to raise money for Christian charities and causes, you can raise a lot more money for those charities and causes by dropping the 'Christian' label.

Variation is a great factor in getting people into your venue. For instance, if you put two local bands on one night that sound very similar to each other, then it's probably safe to say that they will attract practicaly the exact same crowd.
But put two popular local bands on the same bill that are sufficiently different from each other and you will attract two very different audiences, which when put together makes one bigger audience. You can basicaly double your profit.
Obviously that doesn't mean put two band on one bill that are as different from each other as a 'thrash metal' and a soul singing 'boy band' but if you take two genres like 'rock' and 'punk' that have similarities like distorted guitars and 4/4 beats, then whether someone is a punk or a rocker, they can easily put up with the other band because it isn't that much different to the genre they prefer. So you would attract two different audiences, one punk and one rock, in one night, thereby widening the base market, again.
That's why many venues run a regular 'battle of the bands.'
You get several bands, all of different genres, which all attract different audiences, and you only have to pay one band at the end of the night. (It's cynical I know, but that's the truth of it.)

Now let's look at the venue itself.
What else is there to attract a crowd? Does it have a bar? Does it sell alcohol?
If it doesn't, say goodbye to anyone who likes to have an alcoholic beverage drink while they watch a band, and believe me, that's quite a large percentage of an average music venue. (See? If you don't have a bar that sells alcoholic beverages, you've just cut your base market again.)
Does it have a dance floor or is it seated right up to the stage? If you're running a music venue, then people will want to dance at some point, especialy to the disco that you put on before, between and after any bands that you have on the bill.
And if you have a dance floor, people like to dance under flashing lights, it all adds to the experience, so it's an idea to make sure that there is a decent light show pointed at the dance floor.

Of course, not everyone wants to dance between bands, so how about other forms of entertainment?
Is there a pool table? Video games? These are the general faire that you will see in many venues, but how about being a little different? As well as the usual stuff, you can get lots of big blocks of wood, (About 1 foot x 4 inch x 4 inch) sand them all smooth and make a giant version of Jenga, or how about a giant Connect Four? It's only a frame with holes in it and a series of different coloured disks, anyone with a bit of woodworking skill could make one.
How about doing something else a little different to most music venues? Try putting on a comedian before or between bands, or how about a juggler, or a fire eater, or a magician, or even clowns?
Visual acts like these (which obviously doesn't include the comedian) can actualy be very useful. You can put them on between two bands, on the dance floor while the guys on stage behind them are changing the band's gear over and messing about with the microphones on stage because they don't need a PA system.
Basicaly look around at other venues and ask yourself, 'What can we have at our venue that these venues don't have?'
That will make your venue more original than other venues and provide it with a gimmick.
Remember, if you are a music venue, then you are in direct competition with other local music venues, so 'compete.'

It's all to do with creating an ambience in your venue, get the ambience right and you will attract a crowd that will turn up to your venue night after night regardless of what band is on, simply because they enjoy being there for the entertainment value.
The gimmicks, as well as having entertainment value will, once you start attracting a regular crowd, also help to make your venue fashionable, which means that people will actualy start attending your venue simply because everyone else goes there.
Add this 'regular' crowd to the two different crowds you have turning up to watch two different bands and you've just tripled profits by widening the base market, again.

Also, think about having food available. You'd be amazed how much difference just having simple warm food available can make because once you have someone in your venue, you want to keep them there because the longer they are there, the more money they will spend on drinks and games of pool (or whatever games you have available) so if you can remove the need for anyone to leave your venue, such as going to get something to eat, then that's good, and if you can also make some extra profit by selling them food, then that's all the better.
But of course, this can be a complicated process that involves specialist equipment (usualy a kitchen) special licences, and regular official inspections that you have to pass.
An easier option could be to arrange to have a mobile fast food caterer parked up right outside your venue's back door who you can ring an order through too and have someone pop out the door to pick it up, or even have someone present in the caterer's van who will deliver the food to your service bar, a bit like a waiter.

Y'see, it's not just about putting a band on and seeing who turns up, it's about giving your viable punters an entertainment experience that they will enjoy and want to come back and experience again and again.

Hope this helps.

Slacker.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Aug 14, 2008,
#7
Running a successful venue is a complicated thing that depends on many factors.
It's obviously all about attracting people to your venue and I think that maybe running a venue that is known as a 'Christian' venue may actualy be harmful to your aims because you may be alienating people from other faiths and/or people who are not religious.
It doesn't matter if most of the bands you have on aren't actualy 'Christian' bands, a person who isn't religious will look at a venue that is known as a 'Christian venue' and imagine that someone is going to preach to them or try to convert them in some way and they will generaly avoid it like the plague. A person who is from a different faith to Christianity would probably avoid it on religious principle.
That obviously means that straight away, by having a 'Christian' label attached to you venue, you automaticaly cut down the size of the population that you can draw an audience from.
In other words, it 'cuts your base market.'
For this reason, I would advise you to re-launch your venue under a different name (to get away from the stigma of the venue's rep as a 'Christian venue') with no mention of Christianity in the advertisements.


Sorry for quoting so much, but I think it needs repeated.

I tend to associate live music with energy, aggression, drinking, and swearing. While you don't need all or any of these things, if I'm told that they're banned...well, I'm not going near that place.

Music's about relaxing and having fun. If people believe that this will be restricted by the venue (rather than by the normal rules of social interaction) then they're a hell of a lot less likely to go. Sorry about this, but having a 'Christian' label will guaran-fecking-tee that a lot of people will assume that the place will be boring.

I'd agree with Slack_Babbath. Reopen the place without mentioning that it's a Christian venue - all that makes me think of is some guy in white socks and sandals telling me that I'm damned eternally. Keep it clean if you want, keep it sober if you really want. Just don't make people who aren't active Christians - almost certainly the majority - feel that they're unwelcome.

It might also increase your chances of booking a metalcore band (Seriously, expecting them not to swear is like expecting the Pit to ignore the subject of breasts).
#8
Slack's advice, as always, is valuable here.

However... if he wants to run a Christian-oriented establishment, that is entirely his right to do so, on the understanding that he is targeting a niche market. Despite its obvious challenges, with a lot of smart and hard work, it can have its advantages too.

No matter what special interest he is catering to, it's all the same. Let's say... to run with my example above, that we replace 'Christian' with 'gay.' (not to suggest that being Christian is gay... either one is entirely your business...)

If he wants to cater to a gay clientel, the last thing in the world he's going to want to do is to appeal to a straight 'meet market showboating' demographic, obfuscating any references to homosexuality, but being 'sensitive' to it. Sure, he'll have more potential customers, that puts him into direct competition with all the other establishments that are vying for the same crowd.

By appealing to a gay crowd, because the community is smaller than the straight crowd, there are fewer potential customers - but if someone is gay, it will be YOUR club that they go to. Right?

The trick is finding that demographic and appealing to them.

Maybe talk to a proprietor of a GLBTG club and talk about how they overcome the challenges of appealing to a niche market. I really have little idea of how they operate. Instead of advertising in gay magazines and gay media outlets, you focus your promotion towards Christian literature, Christian media, etc.

Be prepared, when dealing with that demographic, that you might have to tone things down a bit and offer a more 'coffeehouse' kind of vibe as opposed to metal-core trasheteria kind of vibe. Know your demographic!

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Talk to youth groups at your local churches. Get them to advertise your venue, and maybe do a "Youth Night."
*-)
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#10
Wow, thanks for your replies! I'm still reading all of them. But to update you guys, we are having a short-notice show this upcoming Thursday. A bigger name, Backseat Goodbye is playing for us for a at-the-door percentage. It's also convenient cos he has a new album hitting shelves on the 19th! (www.myspace.com/shawnmitchell).

I'm trying to figure out ways to get a more bang for our buck. I'll try to make some phone calls. Again, thanks for your opinions!
#12
Mostly I'd say dropping the Christian tag in my experience it kind of scares off some bands. Free food and drink goes a long way too. Good equipment. Nice set up. Good lighting. Stuff like that.
#13
Someone mentioned special events.
In Philly, the Troc hosts "Movie Monday" every week that brings people not only into the bar but also establishes it as a hangout. You pay 5 bucks or whatever, get to watch a movie on a projection screen or whatever and get a free drink and snack.
Another venue hosts a punk rock flea market 2 or 3 times a year that brings in a lot of kids.

It may be helpful to us if you posted some of the amenities that the venue has so we can make more suggestions. Is there a bar? What kind of eatery do you have? Wheres you location?
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#14
Quote by axemanchris
Slack's advice, as always, is valuable here.

However... if he wants to run a Christian-oriented establishment, that is entirely his right to do so, on the understanding that he is targeting a niche market. Despite its obvious challenges, with a lot of smart and hard work, it can have its advantages too.


Thanks Chris, and I do agree with you, but it's just that from a purely business point of view, introducing religion into a business venture is generaly a move that limits your market unless you can move that market around and include other markets, such as a band on tour might do. But you obviously can't do that with a building, which means you already have a limited catchment area to work with without putting off a lot of the people in that area by adding religion into the mix.
Of course, to many Christians, it's the sentiment of having a 'Christian' business that's more important than the profit made by that business, and that's fair enough if that's what is important to you and I totaly respect that....


...but he did ask how to get more punters in his venue.
Last edited by SlackerBabbath at Aug 15, 2008,
#15
All you have to do, is get more bands on the bill. Any small signed bands get no draw. If you put a big-ish head liner on a 6-8 band bill, that's almost 100 people automatically. Also, it would be could to drop the christian name. Instead, advertise your venue as a "all ages non-alcoholic venue" And make it known that you don't book rascist, sexist bands and any person bringing drugs gets a non-refunded boot. Also, set up a myspace page for your venue with pics, and free dates. That should work.
#16
The only problem with that is a big-ish headliner will want a guarantee.... see above. Also, there are only so many times you can book 6-8 bands in one night before you either:
a) run out of bands that are willing to do that
b) bands get pissed off at being on a bill with 5-7 other bands

Sure, there are lots of bands out there who would kill for an opportunity to play *anywhere* where their friends can come out and cheer them on, but having done the 6 bands on in a 'new music night' kind of thing.... we'll never do it again. It's a pain in the neck. The other thing that happens, is by the end of the night - even with a big-ish headliner - everybody whose friend's band has played is gone. They've seen what they came to see, and it's going on 1:00 in the morning, and they're done. A really good touring band gets to play for the bar staff, and a couple guys from bands number 5+6. Not fun.

The gear sharing, the band that doesn't show up until after they were supposed to already be on, the five minutes you have to set your gear up because the last band ran five minutes over, the half-hour set and quick get your crap off the stage, the virtually non-existant pay, the band room stuffed with gear from 6 other bands (crap... I hope I got all my stuff because if I didn't, I sure as hell won't ever see it again), the audience members who don't show up until five minutes before their friend's band is on, and then leave five minutes after.....

Bleh.

Never again.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#17
Honestly, the most hardcore fans would not come to a Christian venue.. I for one would not set my foot in there, but i suppose maybe things are different elsewhere..

If i should give a piece of advice to you christian fleshwaste people it would be.. Get some better bands.
#18
and really, Northern... was that meant to help? What, really, was your reason for posting that?

Go back to the pit and talk about masturbating or something. I'm sure you fit right in.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#20
^ Yeah, it was uncalled for.
Still..... I remember my first drink of alcohol and it turned me into an arsehole too, so maybe we shouldn't judge him too harshly.
#21
Because i felt like burning the venue by merely reading about. Nonetheless, i actually ment to give an advice at the time. My phone rang, i shortened it to nothing.. well almost, and just proceeded. Nonetheless, i voice my opinion, simply because i want to. You should try it. It has some weird kind of satisfaction to it.

And you there Slacker-fella, who people obviously think is sent from another world.. Maybe it was indeed uncalled for, then again, so was that funny little addition to the post of yours - so maybe you should all stop voicing your piss poor opinion on my piss poor opinion, aye? Well, good, cheers mate.

Thank you in advance, you very open-minded individuals who does not tolerate intolerance.. Hah.


666
#22
Quote by Northernmight
Because i felt like burning the venue by merely reading about. Nonetheless, i actually ment to give an advice at the time. My phone rang, i shortened it to nothing.. well almost, and just proceeded. Nonetheless, i voice my opinion, simply because i want to. You should try it. It has some weird kind of satisfaction to it.

And you there Slacker-fella, who people obviously think is sent from another world.. Maybe it was indeed uncalled for, then again, so was that funny little addition to the post of yours - so maybe you should all stop voicing your piss poor opinion on my piss poor opinion, aye? Well, good, cheers mate.

Thank you in advance, you very open-minded individuals who does not tolerate intolerance.. Hah.


666

Cool Dude alert.

Look out fellers, we got a cool dude coming through.
#23
I suppose that was ironic or something like it, hehe. I'm sorry, i often make myself look like an arsehole. But really, i just have my opinions and value them dearly, so dearly that i often and quickly get annoyed or angry at people with different opinions, aswell as people who make fun of my opinions.

I'm not that bad really

I suppose i'm just nok the usual UG user, but i'll try and regulate myself.. Or.. something like it. Ahem.
#24
Cheers to you for at least recognizing this about yourself and being able to look at it objectively. More than what I can say for some folks around here.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#25
Quote by Northernmight

And you there Slacker-fella, who people obviously think is sent from another world.. Maybe it was indeed uncalled for, then again, so was that funny little addition to the post of yours - so maybe you should all stop voicing your piss poor opinion on my piss poor opinion, aye? Well, good, cheers mate.

Thank you in advance, you very open-minded individuals who does not tolerate intolerance.. Hah.


666




Ahh, I get it now, you're saying we're intolerant because we didn't tolerate your intolerence, but your argument lacks merit because if we were to tolerate intolerence, that would be an act of support for intolerence, which itself is an intolerable act of intolerence for those who have no tolerance for the intolerant.
See?