Music venues find new ways to create diverse income streams
Jimmy Hornet is a small club in Richmond, Melbourne, which began in February 2020. Five weeks after opening its doors came the first COVID lockdown, meaning little government assistance.
The venue’s focus was on singer-songwriters and original music.
When trading resumed, its Intimate Music Lounge hosted gigs six nights a week.
But in the first month of 2022, like a myriad of venues around the country, Jimmy Hornet’s shows have all but dried up due to illness and isolation.
Owner Anthea Palmer is resigned to the fact it might have to close permanently.
Her solution is for people to take out an $18 subscription for six issues of its magazine The Hornet Press through its Save Our Venue campaign.
The Hornet Press looks at all aspects of creativity including art, design, fashion, visuals, underground music and cabaret.
“We’re not looking for charity, just support,” Palmer told TMN. “It a publication full of great ideas and people, about the need to highlight creativity during lockdowns.”
As restrictions continue to drag on, many are turning to mixed-use and daytime activity.
The Zoo in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has launched its own late-night Zoopreme Pizzeria.
“If my mother finds out I make pizza with pineapple, I won’t be allowed to come home to Napoli, but I’m am very happy to join The Zoo family,” chef Luigi De Santo said.
It sells hot food to those who come for the music and is also open for walk-ins after 11:30pm.
Music venues that also have built-in cafes and patisseries find they make a difference.
“It’s not a financial windfall although in these days every cent counts,” one operator told TMN.
“But you have punters, as well as the bands and their crews, staying longer in the building.
“With more neighbours coming in, the venue feels part of the community.”
Goondi Hill Hotel in Innisfail, Queensland, started a drive-in takeaway service through its bottle shops after bar takings were down 60% and bistro down 80%.
Disco house and LGBTQ+ mecca The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville, in Sydney’s inner west, is making its rooftop more enticing for event hire.
The area currently caters for 120 with cocktails and Italian food, and unamplified music.
Its plans are to extend trading hours from 8pm to 10pm.
Last August, Adelaide record store Clarity Records – which had pizza and craft beer at its in-store appearances – bought the shop next door and turned it into a live music venue.
Earlier, Sappho Books in Glebe, Sydney, had the idea of turning into a tapas bar on Wednesday to Saturday nights from 6pm and host live music after 7.30 pm.
Music venue Jive in Adelaide’s Hindley Street also became a daytime bar and record store.
But a US mixed business success story is the Brooklyn Bowl which is in a number of cities.
It is both a 24-lane bowling alley and a 1,000-capacity music venue.
Its co-owner Peter Shapiro told Billboard that the building attracts punters every day, and up to 500 of them go and impulsively check out what’s happening in the venue.
This not only means Brooklyn Bowl does not rely on pre-sold concert tickets but it makes enough money to pay acts more and give them 100% merchandising sales.
The popularity with walk-ins also means the venues develop a reputation with acts and their managers as places to play because they are discovered there.