Competition Among Live Music Venues


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By: Megan Morian
2/19/09

Who is really making the big bucks in the live music industry here in Atlanta, and why? As I sat in Churchill Grounds a few weeks ago and watched the steady stream of people leaving the Fox Theater next door at the end of a show, I wondered why exactly Churchill was lacking for patrons that night while obviously the Fox was not.

You’re probably thinking, “Well Megan, of course I’m going to go see Stomp at the Fox over seeing… who… and where?” If this is what you’re telling me, then you should definitely be checking out our website more often. But that’s not the point. Atlanta is home to hundreds of small venues, including restaurants and bars that host live music, and home to probably about ten absolutely huge venues. Why are you going to the same ones over and over and packing yourself in next to thousands of other fans to see someone you hear on the radio all the time? It just doesn’t make sense people.

We’re in tough economic times, aren’t we? Look into your wallet, and think about how much you want to spend on music this month. My guess is that live music falls far below bills, mortgages, groceries, car payments, and other such expenditures on the list. Let’s take my Fox Theater vs. Churchill Grounds example.

A quick jump over to ticketmaster.com told me that the cheapest tickets to see upcoming R&B sensation Ne-Yo at the Fabulous Fox Theater were $50. Then of course there’s Ticketmaster’s Convenience Charge (whose convenience exactly?) of $12.30. Oh, and you’d like to park next to the Fox, wouldn’t you? That will be another $12, thank you. To save you from pulling out the calculator, that’s a total of $74.30, just to walk in the doors. You haven’t even bought their overpriced snacks, drinks, or merchandise yet. You will find that prices vary but are similar in nature at Atlanta’s other large, money-guzzling venues. At Churchill Grounds on Tuesday evenings, Danny Harper hosts a Jam Session. Cover charge is $7, with a $5 minimum purchase requirement. So buy a drink and some chips, and you’re set. Oh, and you can pay $5 to park around the corner.

Discover real, live, local music at friendly, welcoming venues and your wallet is going to thank you. “But Megan,” you protest, “I don’t even know these people that are playing.” Well you can’t very well get to know them if you don’t give them a chance, now can you? If you want to do yourself and your city a favor, you’ll pick the small venues over the large ones. It’s a chance to broaden your musical horizons and be able to say you really know your city’s music. The competition is fierce, and right now the big boys in the big venues are winning. That has to change.

I challenge you, Atlanta music patrons. Prove your “undying devotion” to live music, and put some background behind that self-proclaimed title of “Music Lover.” Try some new and fresh music. Try a new place, in a new part of town, where you will meet new friends and local talent. It’s not going to be your Top 40 artist and his thousand biggest fans… in this city… wearing t-shirts bearing his name and holding signs announcing their marriage plans. It’s going to be good food, good drinks, and a relaxing experience you’ll want to repeat over and over.

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                            No.                                                           Yes.

 

 

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