Choosing the Right Venue: Why It Matters
Choosing the right venue for your show is one of the most critical ingredients in making the gig a success. Ending up in the wrong venue can have tons of fallout:
Nothing is more demoralizing than looking out from the stage at a big, empty room. Not only can this knock your confidence in the long run, it can throw you off during this show, meaning you give the audience that is there a lackluster performance.
Standing in a that big empty room is pretty uncomfortable for the audience as well. It is the thing they'll remember most about your show.
If you're working with a promoter - even if they chose the space - they'll remember that the turnout wasn't what they had expected and they may hesitate to book you again.
Last but definitely not least, booking a venue that is too big for your gig means you won't stand a chance of recouping your costs.
Now, you may notice a theme with all of the "wrong venue effects" listed above - they all refer to what happens when the venue is too large for your show. There's a good reason for that. If you're going to pick a venue that is the wrong size for your show, you want to pick one that is too small. Sure, the best thing would be for everyone who wants hear your music to make it through the door, but a sellout, standing room only gig gives a much different impression than a room in which you're hearing crickets.
How to Choose the Right Venue
Choosing the right venue for a concert is more of an art than a science. If you're playing a show in your own town, it can be fairly easy. Pay attention to where other bands with followings similar to yours play and put those venues on the top of your list. If there's not much of a music scene in your town per se and you're forging new territory, canvas the local bars and clubs and do a little audience profiling. Which venues are playing music that fits into your genre? Which places are attracting people who you think might like your music? Those venues are good places to start.
If you're playing out of town, there are a few different courses of action. If you're going it alone on the show (very difficult to do, by the way), check out some gig guides for that town to get a feel of where local bands are playing. Even better, arrange a gig swap with some local musicians so they can do the venue picking for you. Even better still, put out some feelers to promoters in the area who will have some idea of the best places for groups like yours to play.