NOTE: I wrote this humorous blog post in 2013 with an audience of local, independent musicians in mind. It was shared many, many times on social media and became a viral hit of sorts, and resonated with a national audience. The blog that published this piece has now been deleted, unfortunately, so I can’t show off its sweet, sweet stats.
I think I speak for every music lover when I say that my dream is to open the worst music venue possible. I long for the day when I can somehow simultaneously rip off both the show-goers and the bands who play the shows, creating a giant black hole of wasted time for everyone involved.
So, if you share my dream, as you probably do, follow these easy steps to begin running the most pointless business anybody can imagine: the terrible music venue.
Step 1: Make sure the music is completely inaudible
When you open your venue, purchase a used and outdated sound system. Just the basics. A couple mains, maybe some subpar monitors, and an ancient analog mixer. Do not buy any subs, just pump the bass on the mains to make the music sound sludgy and bad.
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT invest your profits into improving this system. Do the bare minimum to keep it running. Its sound quality will degrade over time, and this is exactly what you’re looking for. Bands will constantly tell themselves that “they MUST have improved the sound system by now, right?”
Jokes on them! High-Five!
Step 2: Hire incompetent employees
Remember, your employees are the lifeblood of your business. They’re the ones on the front lines, managing the everyday operations of your venue.
What to look for in potential employees: knit-hats with Rastafarian colors, bad personal hygiene, a dependence on drugs, a generally lethargic attitude, arrogance, and most importantly: low intelligence.
If you hire anyone who seems knowledgeable, hard-working, or honest they WILL attempt to improve your venue. This is clearly unacceptable.
For bartenders, any prior knowledge of making drinks or creating a nice, hospitable atmosphere is not necessary. Just hire some vaguely attractive hipsters who have squandered every other opportunity in their lives. Hopefully, they’ll squander this one too.
For your sound guy, hire someone who claims to have an understanding of how sound-systems work, despite never actually researching or being educated on the subject. If the band asks for adjustments to be made to the mix during a show, instruct your sound guy to pantomime moving faders and turning knobs. Hopefully, this will frustrate the band and suck all of the joy and energy out of their performance. This is the ideal situation.
Step 3: Promote your shows with no effort
If you have a show booked, do not bother to put up fliers or radio spots. What is this, 1999? Come on!
Your contribution to show promotion should consist of having one of your employees invite all of their friends to an event page on Facebook. The event page should consist of lazily curated artist biographical information and the first picture that comes up on google image search. This is a good opportunity to put a wildly inaccurate starting time for the show (shows should start several hours after you say they will) on the page.
In a best case scenario, this will be a different event page than the one the touring artist has created, thus destroying any synergy between yours and the bands promotional efforts.
Step 4: Have lots of (bad) shows!
If you have followed the steps above, you will have developed a very specific set of clientele. People who love music won’t go to your venue because, well, they won’t be able to actually hear any music at your venue (just noise). It will mostly be your bad employees’ friends who come to your venue to hang out. This is good.
The people who do show up to your venue will probably not actually appreciate music, and should just speak over the bands when they’re playing, or even leave the venue during the show, only returning once it’s over. This will create a very unpleasant experience for the bands and any music fans unfortunate enough to come to try to hear them.
Congratulations! You can now claim to be an integral part of “the scene” while being the very thing that keeps it from improving!