More so than even jukeboxes and DJ sets, live music has a unique flavor that can set the tone (pun intended) for your bar or club. Whether hosting local bands or national recording artists, live performances have the potential to draw a profitable crowd on any given night. However, before customers start slapping their hard-earned money on the bar to see a good show, there are steps that owners need to take in order to prepare their rooms from both a technical and marketing standpoint.
For starters, your venue needs to be equipped with a solid sound system that adheres to both your floor plan and audience needs. The system you ultimately decide to invest in will be dependent on a number of different factors, including performance genre, room size, and budget. Once a system has been put in place, scheduling bands or artists that can draw a paying crowd will require smart booking and promoting tactics to ensure solid attendance and money in everyone’s pockets.
If you build it…
“One of the most important things to have is an ample stage area, but another critical component is the live sound system,” says Brian Ison, marketing manager for Showmen Supplies, La Porte, Indiana. “It used to be that bands would own their own PA, but now it’s expected that the club has its own sound system, and in some cases their own sound person.”
Chris Karr, owner of the Pickle Barrel Nightclub, Killington, Vermont, knows that getting set up with your own sound system is never a bad idea. “Sometimes there will be fly dates and bands will simply show up,” he says. “You’re going to need to provide amplifiers, drums, keyboards, etc. It’s very common for that to happen.”
A proper and basic live sound system consists of PA speakers and a power amp, microphones, and a mixing console. The exact package in which you should invest will depend on the size of your room, the type of live performances you will generally host, as well as what portion of your budget you can or want to delegate to this particular aspect of your business. “
You can get a really good but basic system for $1,500-$2,500, while a full-blown system can cost tens of thousands of dollars,” says Ison, who has been in the music industry for over 20 years as a musician, sound technician, and retailer. “It depends on the size of the room and how loud you need it to be. If you’re having an open-mic acoustic night, a small PA for under $1,000 will handle it. But if you have a room for over 250 people, you’re going to need larger speakers, more of them, and more power.” Popular brands such as Mackie, Peavey and JBL offer live sound systems that are specifically designed and marketed for use in bars and clubs.
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