Close your eyes and imagine what a great Texas music venue looks like to you. What do you see? Do you see an outdoor concert hall in the city with a huge crowd, rockin’ to a live performance? Do you see a small, but loud, country dance hall out on a deserted county road with flashing neon signs? Or maybe you had a different picture in mind.
There are all sorts of Texas music venue features
There are a lot of ways to define an entertainment venue.
- Ownership: Private vs. Public
- Permanent vs. Temporary
- Indoor vs. Outdoor
- Size & Location
- Live vs. Recorded Music
- Hours of Operation & Admissions Policy
- Type: Fair/Festival, Corporate, Theater/ Opry House, Club/Bar/Dance Hall, Casino, Stadium, etc
But these do not answer our question at hand. It’s not as obvious as one may think. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes moving parts that must be in play to make this happen.
What are the 7 features of a great Texas music venue?
It Starts with the Owner/Operator/General Manager
Great Texas music venues start with great owners, operators, or general managers. If they are present and an active participant in the booking process to the event itself, a ripple effect occurs. This sends good vibes to the staff, musicians, and yes, the audience. People love interacting with those in charge. You like to see them welcoming, smiling and connecting with others.
Staff Can Make It or Break It
A strong leader always surrounds themselves with impressive people. The staff of a Texas venue can make it or break it. Are they polite to others? Can they communicate effectively? Are they competent enough to problem solve when unexpected issues arise? Hell, are they also passionate about music? These things matter.
Contracts: Putting It in Writing
Let’s just state the obvious. Contracts separate the pros from the not-so-pros. They protect both artists and venues and they set expectations. How often have you heard “I thought you said…?
Contracts define the parameters of the performance and makes sure both parties understand all the requirements, including riders. Great Texas music venues will use contracts as part of the booking process.
Another distinctive attribute of a successful Texas music venue is how well they pay their performers, if they pay them at all. You may be thinking,…of course, venues compensate the acts they book. Well, not always. You want to talk about a worthwhile read! Check out this letter Jazz musician Dave Goldberg wrote to a club owner about how it is actually a counterproductive, “bad-for-business” practice for venues to book bands that are willing to work for free. Superior venues pay a fair price for their talent, and they do it on time!
Staging, Lighting and Sound
Besides having a talented artist, there are three other vital pieces to an entertaining performance. They include striking staging, good quality sound and dramatic lighting. A great Texas music venue will have these as in place for any performance.
You might want to also review the following as well
- An actual raised stage large enough for any performer
- A stage with enough electrical outlets to handle the average band’s equipment
- A stage that is NOT near a busy entrance or exit [letting cold or hot air in and out with constant foot traffic blocking the view of the audience] –
- A soundboard that actually works well [and doesn’t hum or buzz]
- A room with great acoustics .
And if you are a venue that needs concert support services, well it just so happens this is one of TSE Entertainment’s specialties.
Marketing and Promotion
Now we are really getting to the meat of the matter. A venue that successfully promotes their events is key to being on top in today’s market. A promotional campaign may include: hanging posters/flyers; marketing on social media outlets; press releases to radio stations and music media editors, and various forms of offline and online advertising.
This involves a team effort, including the booking agency, artist, artist management team and the venue to do it well. It is critical that the venue NOT rely on the artist to make this happen. Venues must be able to get their own audiences in the door.
The Venue Vibe
The venue vibe is the final key trait in what makes for a strong Texas music venue. I once read that smell + unique decor + memorable artists/event = vibe. I believe it goes deeper than that. I think it goes full circle back to the owner, operator, or general manager.
Are they booking the music there because they want to be an important part of the local music scene and a key to their success? Or is it just a necessary expense, grudgingly done because the competition has bands? This matters a lot because it will affect the venue’s vibe. I love this quote, “A good atmosphere will trump a pristine sound system every time”.
When everyone walks away from an event, they want to be able to close their eyes and think back on having a good time; a happy time; maybe even a unique time. If you are a venue, you should ask yourself, “Do we have the 7 features of a great Texas music venue?” If so, then you know you have a good thing going. If not, now is the time to take charge and make the change!