Live music is good for business. The success of operators such as The Piano Works demonstrate that the public’s appetite for a quality live music experience remains as strong as ever. Studies have shown that venues that book live bands enjoy far higher ‘wet sales’ than their non music-friendly rivals. They are also on average three times less likely to close down.
But what should a venue do to make a success of hosting live music? At Disco Odyssey we’ve seen our fair share of the inside of live music establishments – from the good and the bad to the downright ugly! So we thought we’d offer a few hints and tips based on our own experiences.
1. The law is now on your side, so make the most of it. The Live Music Act 2012 and its 2015 extension mean that your venue doesn’t need a music licence so long as any live music stops by 11 pm and the audience doesn’t exceed 500 people. These rules apply to venues in England or Wales that have an alcohol licence.
2. If you provide great entertainment the rewards will follow. Remember your job is to give your customers a night to remember. Resist the urge to indulge that ever so friendly bloke who wants you to book his prog rock band or Dixieland jazz combo. Instead focus on booking mixed gender cover bands that play up-tempo songs your customers will recognise and want to dance to. Keep a close eye on which bands your customers like, and why, and then find more bands like them. Which leads us on to tip 3.
3. Put some effort into finding the best bands in your area. You’ll often find that the top bands are working the wedding and private functions circuit, simply because these types of gig pay more. Yet most of these bands will also appreciate the chance to play public gigs so they can showcase their talents to prospective clients. Try entering the search terms ‘live bands for weddings’ and ‘live bands for parties’ into Google and see what the results throw up. Ignore the adverts at the top and look at the websites of individual party and wedding bands in the organic listings. Then drop them a line. Other good sources include the gig guide in your local paper, attending local live music festivals, seeing which bands your competitors are booking and word of mouth.
4. Promote the hell out of each event. Advertise everywhere including inside your venue, on your website, on social media and on local listing websites. Ask each band for a couple of posters and make sure they’re telling their friends about the gig. You might also want to consider using Facebook Ads where you can target people in your locality at a very reasonable price. On the night use Facebook Live to stream some of the performance and encourage your customers to share their experience on their own social media channels. Your aim should be to create a buzz around the event and show folks who haven’t attended what they’ve been missing.
5. Aim for a scenario where everyone wins. It’s important you look after the bands that are helping your business to grow. Get to know them personally, reply to their emails and phone calls, make sure you don’t double-book bands for the same evening. And reward them financially. You should be paying your best bands a minimum of £200 and also passing round a beer mug for audience donations. Also, consider offering each band member a free drink (and free food if you’re running a restaurant). Make sure you clear the area where the band will be playing, so they have plenty of time to set up. For example, if the band is due to go on at 9 pm they’ll need access to the playing area by 7.30 pm at the latest.
At Disco Odyssey we regularly encounter venues where very little thought has gone into the live music offering. Often there is no effective vetting system in place so the quality of the acts varies greatly from week to week. All of which means there’s a great opportunity for you to make your venue the go-to destination for the best live music in your area.
We hope the above tips will provide you with a useful starting point but if you want some further free pointers then please don’t hesitate to contact us.