It seems that concert venues are enjoying very mixed fortunes at the moment. Some are poorly attended or closing whilst others are bursting at the seams, even with waiting lists. So what is the magic ingredient that makes all the difference – and can we bottle (or at least) copy it?
I was playing at the North Staffs Organ & Keyboard Club this week, and the first sign of how things are with them was the queue at the door, over an hour before the show was due to begin. Inside, a sizeable team were flat out preparing the booking office at one end and the stage at the other. And that stage featured additional hangings, banners, lighting to equal a small constellation, a dry ice machine and a big video screen giving out announcements before the show and projecting my hands and various videos during the show. They told me the lighting rig was a new one, but they still put a lot of effort into producing lively effects.
The hall was packed out, and apparently this is always the case. So how to do they do it? And how do they maintain a membership of over 200? They said they thought it was the stage dressing and presentation, and the fact that they have a large and willing team, each with a specific job. They even run two stage teams, so that they can work alternate months and have plenty of people to fall back on in an emergency.
We noticed that every table displayed a poster for next month’s concert, along with a message encouraging concert goers to take the poster home and show it in their windows or on their local notice board. And the cars pulling in to the car park largely sported professional-looking rear window stickers extolling the virtues of the club.
It was interesting to note that the venue, which appeared on my contract as a WMC (working men’s club) was actually named the High Street Club in big letters when we got there. This somehow sounds more up to date.
Do you belong to a music club, for organs or otherwise? How are things going audience and/or members wise? And do you have any ideas for the reasons behind this trend? It would be good to hear from you!