What If We Made Concert Venues More Fan-Friendly?

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“You are one of us”

This quote from Sean Agnew, a promoter in Philly, got me thinking about music venues and how they make money:

The idea is to get people to become fans of the venue so they want to come back, versus, “Oh, we can make an extra $4 if we charge them this fee at the box office.”


There’s a common misconception when you’re running a club that more is always better. More shows + higher ticket prices + ticketing fees + higher drink prices = more money, right?

The idea is that once someone has come into your venue they’re yours – stuck there for the three to five hours from when doors open until the show ends. A few clubs even charge ticket fees even when you schlep to the box office. A beer that was $4 a few years ago is now $7 and so on…


But what if you flip the script?

What if you book less shows, but they’re all quality shows? Wouldn’t your club is known for good music? And wouldn’t that help create a scene around your venue?

What if you kept ticket prices low so that more people could come? Wouldn’t the number of tickets you sold in a year increase?

And once the fans are there, what if you treated them not just like bodies in the room, but actual music fans? What if you made it comfortable for them to see the shows? What if your venue had good sound, good sight lines, and room to move around? What if you hired staff who are music fans too so they actually know what it’s like to go to shows? What if you started shows at reasonable hours and ended in time for them to take public transportation home? What if you offered free water so they could hydrate? And what if you offered late-night food options to help soak up the beer?

What if you treated your guests as fans not consumers? What if you made the entire concert-going experience more fan-friendly? 

What if? 

Indeed.

Lucero: “The Struggle is Real”

Guitarist/vocalist Ben Nichols of Lucero performs on stage during the 6th Annual Musink Festival held at the OC Fair & Event Center on March 10, 2013 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
Guitarist/vocalist Ben Nichols of Lucero performs on stage during the 6th Annual Musink Festival held at the OC Fair & Event Center on March 10, 2013 in Costa Mesa, California. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

Nice profile of Lucero below.

“Why people relate to the band so well is that we are a working-class, blue-collar band,” bassist John C. Stubblefield told The Washington Times. “At the end of the day, we’re just down-to-earth guys who wind up hanging in the crowd, and we’re accessible to a certain degree.”

via Washington Times

“say YES as much as possible and be frugal and hope to survive” – John Roderick

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Everybody’s an expert and no one knows anything. If you focus on money you’re missing the point. The object for me is to do fun things and say YES as much as possible and be frugal and hope to survive.

There’s a great interview with John Roderick of The Long Winters here: The Business of Creative Careers: John Roderick, Musician | The Billfold.

“Will Brand Names Ruin Alt Festivals?” via Diffuser

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In the end, 2016 lineups will reflect whatever the market will bear. If the event organizers turn a profit by putting big names on their bills they’ll do more of the same, context be damned. But we’re losing something special here, like when the local diner is torn down to make room for an Olive Garden. Every town doesn’t need the same depressing strip of franchise restaurants, nor does every festival need big brand names on the top of the bill.

via Will Brand Names Ruin Alt Festivals?.

My 20 Favorite Songs of 2013

1. THE BRONX – “Style Over Everything”

2. SLAINE – “Nothin’ But Business”

3. DIRECT HIT! – “The World is Ending (No One Cares)”

4. TWO COW GARAGE – “Stars and Gutters”

5. ASHLEY MONROE – “Weed Instead of Roses”

6. JASON ISBELL – “Elephant”

7. STEVE EARLE – “Burning It Down”

8. I CAN LICK ANY SONOFABITCH IN THE HOUSE – “Mayberry”

9. MATT POND – “Love to Get Used”

10. AIRBOURNE – “Animalize”

11. THE FLATLINERS – “Drown in Blood”

12. THE FRATELLIS – “Halloween Blues”

13. FRIGHTENED RABBIT – “The Woodpile”

14. THE NIGHT MARCHERS – “All Hits”

15. BLACK JOE LEWIS – “Come to My Party”

16. THE WEEKS – “Brother in the Night”

17. FRANK TURNER – “Plain Sailing Weather”

18. LUCERO – “Texas and Tennessee”

19. WILLY MOON – “Railroad Track”

20. WAXAHATCHEE – “Peace and Quiet”

On The Clash and Joe Strummer and the Birthday / Tribute / Benefit Show at The Middle East tonight

Banging this out on just a few hours sleep so bare with me.

“And so now I’d like to say – people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks – I am one of them. But we’ve all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything – this is something that I’m beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That’s because they’ve been dehumanized. It’s time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain’t going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you’re nothing. That’s my spiel.” – Joe Strummer

When I was a kid growing up in VT, I just listened to whatever was on the radio – oldies when my mom was driving; country when my dad was driving; WEQX, an alternative rock station when that started up in the mid-80’s.

It was probably around that time that one of my friends played me The Clash, The Ramones, and the Sex Pistols.  (We were a little late to the party in Vermont.)

The Sex Pistols were raw and exciting, The Ramones were fast and fun, but it was the first Clash album that really took hold of me.  It was the combination of smart, socially conscious, occasionally political lyrics with those guitar / bass / drum sounds which sounded more urgent than whatever else I was listening to at the time.

“Career opportunities…the ones that never knock…every job they offer you’s to keep you off the dock. ” – The Clash

I later fell in love with Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling, plus parts of Sandinista! and even some of the songs on Combat Rock.

I devoured those albums and collected everything I could.  They’re probably the only band whose albums I had on record, cassette, and CD.  I’ve had other favorite bands since, but they were the first.

“We aren’t particularly talented. We try harder!” – Joe Strummer

I have a lot of influences on how I lived my life and how I want to live my life in the future, but I’d have to include this band, The Clash, as one of them, which seems strange to say.

My takeaways were:
•    if you tried hard enough at something, you could do it
•    if you wanted to live your life treating people with fairness and respect, it’s possible
•    being into punk music and politics are not mutually exclusive
•    that punk rock doesn’t have to be dumb
•    that punk rock can mean being excellent to each other
•    that there are things in this life worth fighting for
•    that music can have power even if it’s just to give someone a voice
•    that you never stop learning
•    that anything is possible

I don’t think they said all of those things but that was the essence that came through in the music.

“It’s the best years of your life they want to steal” – The Clash

So tonight, we start what I hope will be an annual tradition.  The bands Stray Bullets, Far from Finished, Jason Bennett and The Resistance, and Dave Wells are going to be performing the songs of The Clash and Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, as well as some of their own, at The Middle East DownstairsDJ Krezner (Roots and Razors) is going to spinning tunes in between bands.

The proceeds will go to Strummerville, a foundation that Joe Strummer’s family set up after his passing.  The bands have put their time into this, I hope you can come by and support them.  It is Joe Strummer’s birthday today and I hope he’d be proud of what’s happening here tonight.

“The future is unwritten.” – Joe Strummer

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My Favorite Albums of 2012

1. Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball

2. Bob Mould – Silver Age

3. Baroness – Yellow & Green

4. P.O.S. – We Don’t Even Live Here

5. Tim Barry – 40 Miler

6. You Won’t – Skeptic Goodbye

7. The Hives – Lex Hives

8. High on Fire – De Vermis Mysteriis

9. The Casket Lottery – Real Fear

10. (tie)
alt-J – An Awesome Wave

Campaign – The Black Album

Caseracer – Caseracer
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JEFF the Brotherhood – Hypnotic Nights

Metz – Metz

Pilot to Gunner – Guilty Guilty

Propagandhi – Failed States

Riverboat Gamblers – The Wolf You Feed

The Evens – The Odds

The Jealous Sound – A Gentle Reminder

Torche – Harmonicraft