How to Save a Music Venue

How to Save a Music Venue

A few months ago, I was asked to manage a music venue in Cupertino and steer it in a direction that could turn it into a sustainable venture. Though I’ve never managed a venue before, I thought it sounded like an interesting challenge and accepted the opportunity. I had worked with the venue in the past and saw a lot of room for improvement. Any situation where there is a gap between the existing and ideal state is one that I like to inject myself into. A little common sense goes a long way.

 

As soon as I took over, the warts of the venue began to show. I found out that though it was called a “music venue”, none of the live music equipment was actually owned by the venue. I quickly got the funds necessary to remedy that. We replaced a promoter’s system with our own Electro-Voice speaker stack, a 16-channel digital mixer, microphones, stands, cables, and other goodies. This first step allowed us to produce our own shows without the permission of the promoter.

 

There are three more major phases that need to occur…

 

  • Lighting – The current lighting system is awful. The entire stage is illuminated by a pair of red pan lights. While better than nothing, it’s not far off. I brought in a consultant who DJ’s regularly in Las Vegas to provide some insight to improve our system. We came up with a number of options that would provide dynamic and appropriate lighting for most types of artists.
  • Acoustics – The X Bar is a box with a lot of 90° angles and parallel surfaces. While this is simple for building layouts, it is awful for acoustics. We need to improve the acoustics by hanging baffling over the stage (to absorb drum and cymbal sounds). We also need to hang acoustic panels on the walls and/or suspend them from the ceiling to absorb reflecting sounds. This is a tricky process as acoustics can get expensive. However, there are comprehensive guides that exist that make the construction of panels intuitive and very cost effective. The result of this phase will make the room sound less harsh and abrasive especially with louder genres like rock and metal.
  • Furniture – The existing furniture in the X Bar is best described as cheap and uncomfortable. It isn’t the type of place that people like to hangout. A vast majority of patrons don’t even sit down while ordering. The “VIP Lounge” section of the bar consists of a handful of square benches and cafe style tables. Instead, we should replace the lounge seating with L-shaped sofas and illuminated drink tables. Not only will this make the bar feel more comfortable, we can rent out these sections for parties, meetings, or bottle service. We also need additional “club” seating so we can take advantage of our dance floor. By being able to convert the floor into a club seating area, we can better host acoustic night, comedy night, and more.

 

There is much more that needs to be fixed but this is the tip of the iceberg. Excited to be asked to assist with this project.

 

Let’s get to work.

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