Venues up and down the UK are facing a grim challenge. Capacities are fixed, so you can only make so much from the door, bar take is what it is, and other revenues are minimal. And the clamour for more residential property sites in central urban areas, where most venues are located, is bringing plenty of tempting offers from developers so that the buildings’ owners are seriously considering selling up.
Grass-roots venues are important and need to be nurtured, not sold off to the highest bidding developer, thus ending years of history and important ties for the local community. All bands have to start somewhere. Big venues like The O2, wouldn’t have the likes of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Oasis playing if it wasn’t for grass-roots venues giving bands and artists that initial platform in which to practise, hone their craft and build a fan base.
To my mind, the solution lies in engaging the most loyal and committed live music fans, and those who have a strong affinity to venues. Everyone remembers their first gig, or that venue where they met their future wife/husband, where they saw a now-huge act for the first time, along with just 20 other people. The power and pull of these emotional moments create an affinity that lasts a lifetime. And an affinity that people love to tell others about, so that they might experience the same magical connection between artist, fan and venue that only live music brings.
Everyone remembers their first gig, or that venue where they met their future wife/husband, where they saw a now-huge act for the first time, along with just 20 other people.
Venues can create powerful communities with their most ardent fans – whether they still gig or not. Offer community benefits for the most loyal and influential fans – those who get others to join the community, those who get others to go to gigs, those who get others to buy merchandise, those who get others to buy partner brands’ products – all the time yielding sales commissions for the venues that don’t otherwise exist.
Find these people, give them the tools to tell their friends, reward them for their efforts – buy them a drink, give them a tour of the venue, a free ticket for a friend, a signed poster. And get the artists involved too. Every artist that plays a venue should tell their fan-base about the venue, about the cultural value it has and about how a vibrant community of like-minded people is building around that venue – a rising tide that lifts all boats.
Luckily….venues, bands and fans can now do all of this through technology. Such technology is one of the main tools that a venue or band can implement going forward.
A small venue with its cultural heritage and a vibrant community of loyal, active enthusiasts should be able to make valuable new revenue streams by connecting the community and its networks to other transactional revenue streams utilising affiliate marketing technology.