Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking

Do you prefer to play clubs, lounges, official music venues? Here are some thoughts on the pros and cons of booking these types of venues (vs. coffeeshops and non-traditional spaces). If you are a new aspiring musician, you might pick up a few things below and make an informed decision on the the type of avenue you intend to pursue.

Read, and let me know if you agree or don’t agree with the following. Post your additional pros/cons. I’ll also be doing some followup posts on how to make the most of a show depending on the venue you choose.

PRO:  Quality sound.
There’s nothing worse than playing a venue with a crappy sound system. You won’t have to worry about this in clubs and most official spots. And as you know, good sound makes all the difference.  In many other spaces, chances are you’ll have to provide the sound and someone to run it…which actually isn’t a bad thing, if you know what to do.

PRO: A familiar name
When you hear the name “World Cafe”, most East Coast Musicians know that this is Philly’s most prestigious venue. To say you’re playing at World Cafe carries alot of weight.  You’ll probably even get more people out to your show because it’s a fimiliar venue, people know where it is, and you don’t have to sell the idea of having them come hear you in a venue they’ve never heard of.

PRO: No surprises
Its fairly easy to find a cities established venues and to know what to expect. But its  much harder to come across the best coffeeshops and alternative spaces in town.. And not just any coffeeshop/spaces, but ones that have the appropriate space/vibe for live music.

CON: Rules
You’re limited. Clubs have rules for everything – door policies, ticket sales,  drink minimums, and sometimes who you can spit a bill with. These things ultimately make a gig less fun for everyone involved. Chances are, if you had your own rules, you’d have an easier time playing by them. And this is exactly the reason why low maintenance venues are often the place to pitch your tent.

CON: Little Return for Lotta Work
Have you ever spent weeks promoting a show, packed out a house, and left the venue wondering why you only made $40? Venues aren’t trying to take advantage of you. Or are they? It sure feels like it.  Well they need to make money. But at the same time it seems like you did all the work. Ya, the venue might have a good name, and might be a great addition to your resume, but do you feel a bit cheated? Figure it out for yourself. Most artists go into a gig knowing they won’t make money. And sometimes (as stated above), simply having a great show, with a packed house and good sound, is better than making a profit. Read more:
An Interview with Joe Squared – Things Every Venue Wishes You Knew

CON: Harder to Book
You can spend weeks  booking and waiting for clubs to get back to you but coffeeshops are easy, accessible and usually much more laid back in their booking process. Not to mention that a coffeehouse will give you more control over the gig itself.

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One Comment on “Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking”

  1. […] Grassrootsy grassroots marketing for independent artists « Coffeeshop or Club? Pros and Cons of “Nightlife” Booking […]

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