What is a Venue?
A venue is a place where musical events take place. It aims to produce and present live music to the audience. For a venue to operate, communication and coordination are the keys, and multiple positions in the music industry work together to make the show happen. The venue undertakes many tasks such as booking, sponsorship, marketing, and ticketing before the show day. It is also responsible for the stage setup, security, and reception on the show day.
A local venue is really an office building and there is more than just touring involved. The artist is making money not only from touring but also from sponsorships. It takes a lot of coordination because of conflicts of interest. Issues such as where to put and where not to put the sponsor product, capacity, lighting, and what kind of sound is going to be brought in should be considered even just for VIP meet and greets that take twenty-five minutes. No matter what is happening, a lot of people have to work together to make it happen and all that has to be communicated to the venue. Even the small things matter at a venue like a towel being next to the shower so that the crew does not have to find someone after a long and exhausting day at work.
The venue crew works on non-show days as well. They handle emails and meetings, logistics, planning, and coordinating; they have to deal with curveballs, politics of the city to pull permits and wait for a tour to decide what they want to do. For most of the time, if the venue in question is the second stop on the tour, they might get last-minute requests because the tour would realize that they need something right after the first show. So, it is a lot of tracking different expenses.
The Goal of the Venue
The main goal of aproviding a once-in-a-lifetime experience to the concert goers. The show must go as exactly as the production wants it to go. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to meet all the needs of the tour and to establish good relations with the tour crew, artists, and promoters. At the same time, ensuring the safety of the guests, taking precautions for fire and possible disaster situations, dealing with bureaucracy, and getting the necessary permissions are amongst the responsibilities of the venue.
Who is the Venue’s Client?
The promoter/booking agent purchases the tour and puts up the money for the band to play at a specific show or the specific venue. Even though the venue is doing all the work on behalf of the tour, the promoter is the person who pays the fee for the tour to come into the building. Therefore, the venue’s client at the end of the day is the promoter.
Positions at a Venue
Just like touring, when the venue gets bigger, the jobs become more important and specific. There is a front house manager and a back house manager in the venue. The front-of-house manager deals with security, ticketing and box office, ingress and egress, and set-up which are all the operational aspects of the show. A back-of-house manager, on the other hand, manages everything from the backstage like artists and production. There are usually two to three dedicated full-time employees that are responsible for these jobs.
A venue is split into two overarching departments: Facilities Department and Live Department. The people working at the facilities department are physically doing the work on the day of the show and implementing it which is quite like what a touring act does. The facilities department includes
- Box Office
- Event Manager
The live department does a lot of the planning and the promotion of the show, tracking the show and everything that goes along with that. They deal with
- Premium Seating
- Artist Relations
Co-working Between the Local Crew and the Tour Crew
In order to make a show happen as smoothly as possible, members of both the venue crew and the tour crew need to be specialists in their own area so that all the questions that might occur are answered without wasting time. there is a lot to do in one day and there is a large expense associated with the work on that day, everyone has to hold their end of the bargain because one mistake could cost you thousands of dollars.
For these reasons, everyone on both sides of the crew should notify their top-level person in case of any need, and these top-level persons on both ends should work hand in hand with each other. For instance, the backline technicians of the artist tell the tour production manager what they need, and the tour production manager contacts the venue production manager. The venue’s production manager leads the local union to provide what is needed. Thereafter, the backline technicians work hand in hand with the local union’s head to get things done.
It is worth noting that every venue is a building, and every building is different, so adjustments are being made accordingly. There are capacities of what can be done and what cannot be done in a venue. Plus, each venue’s staffing might differ. It is highly important to be respectful as a touring act to the local crew -vice versa- and try to be flexible if possible.
When it comes to designing a show, a big part of the production aspect is how many tickets are available. That has to be the very first thing that is figured out to be announced. After determining whether the stage placement will be 360 (which is a full circular stage where the artist is in the middle and the people are around) or 180 and after the sightlines are determined, the capacity is going to be figured out to know how many tickets are going to be sold and the next step is scaling the ticket prices. Some of the factors that affect ticket prices are the popularity of the artist, the prestige of the venue, and the economic heft of the city where the concert takes place.
If the day of the show the tickets are not sold out and the front row is empty, the event manager has to dress the house which is bringing people from the back to the front so that the show looks better for both the artist and the crowd.
Some situations might occur when the show is not sold-out, but it is sold-out. This might sound confusing but when a show goes under a contract, the capacity of the event is limited on the contract. However, if the venue can expand more than this limit; and the limit is sold out but there are still a few tickets left, it is still a sold-out show because the capacity is sold out. This mostly has to do with deal memos, and there are other facts like once the show is sold out, the artist collects a larger percentage of the ticket revenue.
Even though all the tickets are sold out, the venue has to make a drop count which is the percentage of how many people actually showed up to the show. A lot of things about the show depend on the drop count because there might be some artists that would not go to the stage until the drop count is at a certain amount which is usually 80 percent. Some factors might affect the ticket sales at the end of the day because if the show starts before the late-arriving crowd comes, they might want a refund for they missed the show despite the fact that the show started at the ticket time.
- Never say no to an opportunity. It takes a lot of information and a lot of experience to get to the level of being able to be whatever you want to be in the music industry.
- Everybody that is on the bus has a very important role and you are not there to waste anybody’s time. So, if you are going on a tour and you “fake it till you make it”, and you cannot do whatever you are supposed to do, you are done in this industry because touring is a small world.
- Going on tour might be a big jump and maybe you have some skills that you are trying to develop. You can join a local venue’s crew and give yourself a start. Because at the end of the day when it comes to making a show happen, a local venue crew is just as important as the touring act.
- For every person that tours, there is a counterpart that works at a venue, and they communicate with each other, which means they have to speak the same language. The venue is a great way to take all your passion and skills and exercise what it takes to do touring. It is a great transition because you can learn very specific tasks and see how other people do them; moreover, you make connections. Sometimes you try and fail but eventually, you are learning on the spot, and you can take all those experiences and go on tour.