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Hundreds flock to first NIVA conference

The inaugural National Independent Venues Association (NIVA) Conference has been hailed as “exceptional” by executive director Rev Moose.

Almost 600 music industry representatives flocked to Cleveland for the gathering, held from 11-12 July to coincide with the start of Independent Venue Week in the US.

Topics discussed included safety, technology, inclusion, diversity, equality, accessibility, booking, ticketing and marketing, while ample networking opportunities were available to members.

“It was an exceptional event,” Moose tells IQ. “Not just the fact that we had as many people as we did, but the feedback was incredible and we are really happy. The independent sector hasn’t been catered for in the past to such a degree and this proves that the market is vibrant. We want to pay attention to the different aspects of the industry that are affecting everybody.”

“We’ve only been together for the past couple of years, but so many relationships have been formed”

Formed in the early days of the pandemic, NIVA has grown to represent more than 2,000 independent concert venues and related music businesses and played a crucial role in securing state and federal funding to help keep the lights on for its members during the shutdown.

“We’ve only been together for the past couple years, but so many relationships have been formed,” says Moose. “The commonality is very specific, but the differences are huge. And the fact that we’re all in such a great space and willing to collaborate and able to learn off of each other – and share time and happiness and stress points and everything else that comes with it – means that this was the perfect time for us to be able to bring something like this to the world.”

NIVA’s advocacy played a key role in the $16 billion Save Our Stages act, which passed in December 2020 and which was ultimately launched in May 2021 after some hiccups by the Small Business Administration.

Last year, it was honoured at last year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony for the role it has played in helping the country’s indie venues to survive the pandemic.

“The stresses are very real… But we are happy to not be going through it alone”

“We’re excited to be in business,” says Moose. “At the same time, there’s still a lot of financial stress that is coming with it. There is the very real issue of shows being cancelled and rooms going empty for the night, or people not showing up and so you’re not selling what you need on the food and beverage side to be able to make it worth it.

“The stresses are very real and it’s just unfortunate that is still going to happen for quite some time, but we are very happy to be with each other and to not be going through it alone. That, in itself, is something very positive that’s come out through all this.”

Moose says the event attracted 568 registrants at last count – and indicates a sequel is inevitable.

“We want to do it again right now,” he laughs. “Of course it’s going to continue to happen. It intentionally overlapped with Independent Venue Week over here, which is currently in the middle of its fifth year. It gives us a chance to tell our story and people are paying attention, which is a great feeling.

“Independence is a strength in many ways but it also means that sometimes the squeakier wheel gets the attention – and we’re pretty squeaky when we’re all together!”


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Marc Geiger’s SaveLive reveals first venue partners

SaveLive, the “war chest” launched in 2020 by former WME music execs Marc Geiger and John Fogelman to “bail out” struggling US music venues, has announced its first round of venue partners.

The company yesterday (5 April) unveiled partnerships with some 20 mid-size venues including The Alibi in Palm Springs (California), The Golden State Theater in Monterey (California) and Hammerjacks in Baltimore (Maryland), with “many more to come.”

SaveLive has also completed its first round of financing, raising US$135 million from investors including Breyer Capital, Deep Field Asset Management, Raptor Group, and Shamrock Capital.

At the time of the company’s launch in October of 2020, Geiger said the plan was to invest in small venues and build an indie touring network to revive the live scene, using funds secured during an initial investment round.

Initially, SaveLive intended to buy at least 51% of the equity in those clubs though a rep for the company says that is not the case for all of the partnerships and each one is bespoke.

“Getting involved with Marc, John, and SaveLive to re-launch the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA was a no brainer”

Geiger said: “When John and I started this mission in late 2020, the live business was feeling pretty hopeless as the pandemic was hitting the sector head on. All I did during this time was listen to music and obsess on ideas on how to help the independent live industry.

“It was clear streaming services plus the pandemic changed the concert industry for good and web 3.0 is going to change it even more. We used that downtime to raise capital of like-minded and long-term investors, build a music focused team of professionals, and ultimately build out version 1.0 of our partner network. 18 months later, the live business is rushing back to record levels…and it’s time to launch.”

The Alibi’s Liz Garo adds: “As an independent booker for Spaceland, The Echo, and 100 other places since the beginning of time, being able to partner with SaveLive is a dream come true. [Alibi co-owner] Melanie Tusquellas and I can stay true to our roots knowing we have their full support, whether it’s finance, booking, marketing, sponsorship, questions about the bar or just bouncing ideas off the team. It doesn’t hurt that we’ve known some of the people at SaveLive for years – we all came up through the business together.”

Golden State Theatre owner and Ineffable Music president Thomas Cussins comments: “As Ineffable Music continues to focus on bringing top notch national acts to secondary and tertiary markets, getting involved with Marc, John, and SaveLive to re-launch the Golden State Theatre in Monterey, CA was a no brainer.

“At Ineffable, we open new outlets for touring acts, creating a more vibrant live music scene–both for the artists and for the fans who deserve to have great music in their backyard. Having SaveLive in our corner gives us even more confidence to keep growing our business.”

See SaveLive’s first round of partner venues below:

The Alibi, Palm Springs, CA
The Golden State Theater, Monterey, CA
Hammerjacks, Baltimore, MD
The Marquis (formerly Harry O’s and Park City Live), Park City, UT
The Criterion Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK
Tower Theatre, Oklahoma City, OK
Beer City Music Hall, Oklahoma City, OK
Ponyboy, Oklahoma City, OK
Tech Port Arena, San Antonio, TX
Tobin Center, San Antonio, TX
Elektricity, Pontiac, MI
Deuterman Productions, Various, FL
Patchwork Presents, National


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