Running a Music Venue: The Complete Guide

In recent years we have seen a lot of businesses shut down their in-person premises. The advent of online shopping and next-day delivery has been too much for a lot of businesses to compete with. But there are some businesses that will always need to be in-person. Restaurants and cafes. Museums and galleries. And, most importantly to us, music venues.

For music fans, there is no greater feeling than going to a gig. Seeing your favorite band live and getting to experience their music alongside a crowd of adoring fans. The atmosphere is unbeatable. Especially after the pandemic and lockdowns, people are rearing to get back to their favorite music venues again. This is why now is the perfect time to open up your own music venue.

How Do I Find the Right Property?

Location, location location. The mantra of real estate. And it is a mantra worth listening to. As with any business, the location of your music venue is important for a number of reasons. The first and most important reason is, of course, customers. For example, if you pick a location in a major city center, you are far more likely to see a steady and thriving customer base. Especially if you place yourself near other bars and restaurants.

Whereas if you put your venue slap bang in the middle of a suburb, you will find that you don’t have many customers showing up. And this also leads to the second issue when picking a location. Sound pollution.

A music venue is going to create a lot of noise. Which, in a major city center, is not an issue at all. But if you place your venue in a quieter area, chances are you will get a lot of noise complaints and stand to get into legal trouble with local councils or residents. This will quickly give you a bad reputation or put you in trouble. So when picking your location make sure you try to pick somewhere with a large population and an active nightlife.

How Should I Decorate my Music Venue?

Once you have acquired your venue the next step is decoration. This isn’t just about aesthetic decoration either, but practical decoration. Will you have a bar? Where will you place it? What safety features do you need and where?  How big will the stage be? Greenroom for the acts?

Safety is always a priority for any venue, especially one that will most likely have a lot of drunk people inside. Fire escapes are mandatory. They must lead outside to a muster point and be well lit and properly sign-posted as well. You will also need fire extinguishers throughout the building.

You will need to have your building inspected to make sure it is up to code. Stable foundations and working plumbing. You will also need to make sure you are meeting all health code standards. Especially if you are selling beverages. You need to make sure the venue is clean and free of mold, dirt, or infestations. Rodents are the biggest perpetrator of bringing down music venues.

We recommend you bring in a professional exterminator once the venue is purchased. Once the venue is open you will need to install counter-rodent measures to keep your venue clean. Installing an electric fly-shocker in the back rooms is a great step. You can get 360-degree protection with this mouse repellent, and it’s completely humane as well. For cockroaches, we recommend using a plug-in ultrasonic cockroach repellent.

What Music Acts should I Book?

No music venue is complete without music acts. This is your bread and butter. And the good news is there is no shortage of bands willing to get up on stage and spread their music. But which bands should you bring in?

You will want to focus on two distinct types of bands. Knows and unknown, for want of a better word. The real moneymakers are going to be the known bands. Big names are going to pack out the venue. Imagine if you managed to get Ed Sheeran or Led Zeppelin playing in your venue? This is unlikely but you get the point. The bigger the name the more you’ll make.

But it can be difficult to secure big-name bands. And you will want to have gigs running nearly all week to really build up your venue’s brand. So the reality is you will be bringing in mostly unknown bands. You will want to start by hunting for local talent. Find some popular local bands and offer them a regular spot at your venue. This is a great tactic as it offers the band the chance to build their own following and gives you a secure gig every week.

After that, you will want to find some bands to bring in as openers or one-off gigs. Hold open auditions for bands and get your staff to spread the word and try to bring in new talent. We recommend you make certain days different themed. So one night could be a rock night. Another could be indie. Variety will ensure you get a varied and consistent customer base through the door.

What Licences do I need?

Licenses are important for a music venue. You can’t just set up shop and go. You will need a license to allow for live music to be played past a certain time. This is dependant on your cities local regulations. If you are planning to sell booze you will need a liquor license. It is VITAL you keep this one up to date. Selling booze without one can land you in a lot of trouble.