How to choose the right independent music venue

Words by Kate Menzies

When it comes to putting on a show, there’s a lot to consider: there’s your budget, what you want to achieve with the event, finding the right acts, and working with the right teams. We want to help you with one of the most important parts: choosing a live music venue. Whether you’re new to putting on events or you’re looking for recommendations for independent venues, we’ve got something for everyone. 

Choose a music venue with the right venue capacity

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is how many tickets am I expecting to sell? You need to know who you’re creating your event for, where they live, what they’re listening to. Once you’ve got a good idea of the location for your event, you’ll need to choose one with a fitting capacity. It’s better to sell out a small show than it is to have a half empty venue, so play it safe. 

You also need to take safety and fan experience into account when you’re considering the capacity of your venue. A cramped space isn’t safe or enjoyable. Venues like Kremwerk are ideal for smaller, more intimate events. The queer-owned Seattle venue has three rooms, each offering under 300 capacity, and it specializes in progressive electronic music. The Meadows, part of The Brooklyn Monarch, is a smaller venue catering to punk and heavy metal shows with a capacity of 350. 

There’s also a question of whether you want to create a VIP space – if you’re running a club night or you’re welcoming some super fans, make sure to think about how you’ll create an enhanced experience and how that’ll need to be accommodated by the space you choose. The Brooklyn Monarch is a multi-room venue with a total capacity of 1,000. Three rooms of dance floors and stages are available for artists of all genres, making this a flexible option if you’re in Brooklyn. For extra accessibility, or if you’re hosting a more laidback show, consider a venue like Le Poisson Rouge that can offer a blend of seating and standing. 

Sound Nightclub

Build a great audio experience

The acoustic properties of a venue can make or break a performance. Fans will want to hear every detail in a breathy folk performance, and they’ll want to feel the bass in their chest at a rave. Large multi-use venues might have acoustics designed to cater to a broad range of events. You need to be sure that the sound design of the venue fits the type of experience you’re looking to create. If you’re putting on a hip-hop show, then a venue catering to sports events might not be the best choice. The acoustic design of a space should ideally keep outside sound out and inside sound in, and a sound system should complement the space without overwhelming it. 

Venues like Halcyon SF offer the best in modern equipment are a safe bet if you’re looking for a high quality audio experience. Halcyon is just the third club in the world to install Dolby Atmos technology that surrounds fans with sound in a 3D space. If you need cutting edge audio and visual technology, LA’s Sound Nightclub also offers a one-of-a-kind sound system. Its interior 3D mapping and custom video content offers an experience beyond the norm. 

Find a music venue with the right look and feel

Fans return to their favourite venues again and again because of the vibe. The vibe is a combination of everything about a venue: the way it’s decorated, its layout, its location, its programming, its staff. One thing that venues tend to curate strongly to appeal to their core fanbases is the decor. Venues looking to attract house music fans might prioritise open, uncluttered spaces to give fans room to dance – they might also opt for more open-air space to help fans catch their breath. Contrast this with a jazz bar. Jazz fans are more likely to desire comfortable seating to watch their artists perform, and appreciate elegant decor. So, how should you match the vibe to your show?

Deluxx Fluxx pays homage to arcade games and graffiti with its eclectic, neon artworks. It’s a space designed to draw the eye, and ideal if you’re looking to create a visceral, artistic experience for fans. If you need a more relaxed vibe, Public Records is a social space designed for showcasing rare record collections alongside a thoughtful food and drinks menu. Some venues are adaptable depending on your requirements. Knockdown Center is unique in its design. Beginning life as a factory manufacturing knock-down frames, it’s now a wide-open space that’s usable for just about any type of event. 

Club Space Miami venue

Find a music venue with a fanbase that matches your own

With any show, you want to create a harmonious environment between your fans and the venue’s existing fans. Every venue has its own ecosystem, a unique mix of fans drawn to the venue for its programming, its location, and the other fans they meet there. Try and think of opportunities to bring your fans to new venues where they might not have been before, or to cross genres with another fanbase. Enriching local scenes is one of the best parts of putting on events. 

Saint Vitus is already the go-to metal spot in Brooklyn, so why not try and introduce a new hardcore artist there? Or there’s Club Space, where fans go to rave until dawn. There’s always an existing scene you can fit into, you just need to find it. If you know what your existing fans and the fans you’re looking to reach are listening to and where they live, it’s much easier.  

Looking for new fans means finding the right space for exposure – look for venues that are considered tastemakers in their local areas. Songbyrd can help up-and-coming artists crack Washington D.C. with an intimate capacity and a reputation for hosting the best new artists in the state. SILO has only been open since the beginning of the year, but it’s already attracted acts including Fred again.. and brands including Nike and Manual NYC. 

Want to work with us to help you choose the right music venue?

We work with the best independent music venues in the world. If you don’t know where to get started with choosing your own venue, or you’re looking for new connections, just get in touch

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