Just finishing up here at the Elm City Music Festival, a lot topics popped up that referred to the scene and the smaller venues that base their business of showcasing original independent music. I also had a great conversation thread on Facebook with a lot of musicians in the Philly scene regarding the same topic. So I decided to do a comprehensive blog breaking down the reality of venues and where so many go wrong and have a broken business plan. I thought this would be great to share and feel free to add your comments below.
Being a booker/promoter/former club owner for over 20 years I really never really liked when people used the term "Support the Scene", it’s more like support my bar or establishment. It's “supporting artists” and music you personally like, people go out to shows to experience music that they like to hear. It’s more like "support the music you like". Is there a so called music scene in Philly, yes of course there is, if not all the clubs would be closed. But people fall into that term because bars are falling, they make excuses why nobody's at your show or a scapegoat why nobody's at shows.
The problem is and it’s something I struggled with after my 10+ years at The Grape St Pub (Philly), is that many bar/venues owners don't get it. The goal for a bar/venue is to put asses in seats so you can sell alcohol. Where the model fails is that they rely 100% on the artists to fill their room. Venues do not promote or do different programming to get people in their bar. That's why places close or fail because they work off a broken business model. You want people to go to your venue because they want to. The Grape St. was so successful because we had a lot to offer to the common person and we just happen to have great music there. People loved to hang there. This is why like R5 Promotions has been successful also at various venues they created an environment that people wanted to be apart off.