Marketing / 07.16.18
Giving a Nationwide Shout-Out to Independent Venues
Ask nearly any of today's (and yesterday's) most popular bands and singers where they got their start, and none will tell you "Madison Square Garden" or "The Hollywood Bowl." They'll tell you it was a smaller, more intimate club or concert hall, probably. Independent Venue Week (IVW) celebrates such venues and the people who own and operate them.
This month marked the first IVW U.S. celebration after five successful U.K. editions. Running from July 9-15, it brought together 14 venues along with a host of rising and established artists, promoters, music labels and entertainment media for a series of gigs.
Four years ago, Sybil Bell started IVW in the UK to serve two distinct purposes. "Bands need to play and tour small venues in order to get a foothold," she said to Billboard. "Local communities, too, need somewhere that knows how to put live music on."
Indeed, IVW is national, but each live event around the country has a distinct local feel. Bell originally modeled the event after the Record Store Day initiative, which is intended as a nationwide celebration of stores that sell LPs and marked by specific events at those stores. For IVW, the concept is similar with venues invited to take part by hosting shows under the IVW banner. The project grew from 17 participating U.K. venues in 2014 to 91 the following year and has today jumped to more than 250.
Such growth drew the attention of Marauder, a boutique marketing firm. They, along with Bell, have played key roles in the expansion to the United States. Bell recently issued an official statement that read: "We hope we can expand in the United States in the same way [as in the United Kingdom]. It sets the scene to make this a true celebration of venues globally over the coming years."
The 14 venues that participated in this month’s IVW event had to meet three specific criteria for eligibility: first, owners could own no more than nine total venues, second, the venue's main programming needed to be live music, and finally, the building itself could not be owned by a company that primarily does something other than music.
Some of the participating venues are straight-up concert clubs, providing stages for local, national and even international talent. Others, in addition to hosting concerts, also offer special events ranging from dance nights to music workshops. IVW recognized the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.; the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland; the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, Ore.; The Echo in Los Angeles; the Mohawk in Austin, Texas; Motorco Music Hall in Durham, N.C. and White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, N.J.
Many participating U.S. venues are already users of Eventbrite, a partner with IVW in the United States. For Andrew Dreskin, Eventbrite's president of music, IVW has represented an opportunity to support independent music.
"At Eventbrite, we feel very strongly about independent venues, promoters and music,” Dreskin recently told Pollstar. “They are often the farm clubs for the stadium and arena acts of tomorrow. We all want to live in a non-homogenous society. We believe one of the ways to do that is to foster a vibrant independent music scene with venues that have their own voice, and initiatives like Independent Venue Week help fuel this."
Glenn Boothe, Motorco Music Hall's marketing director, is hopeful the U.S. IVW will be the start of something equally as big as the U.K. version. "It's a first step," he told IndyWeek. "But I'm a believer that venues should try to work together, as I think there are a lot of benefits to be had if we do. IVW helps highlight that, although we are locally owned and operated, we're not alone in this pursuit to bring great artists to our local communities."
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Tags: Music , Theater , Arts