I cofounded Foria just over a year ago, because of my love for live events and my passion to make the industry better for everyone. However, I would have hardly been interested in live events if it wasn’t for the many independent venues that showed me what’s possible. I would never have come back to my home city of New York if it weren’t for the independent music events which bled culture and creativity.
Today, Independent music venues are among the hardest hit businesses by COVID19. If nothing is done, we can expect a future where independent venues shutter their doors, or to be replaced by corporate giants like Live Nation.
Fortunately, a lot is being done.
National Independent Venue Association
The National Independent Venue Association, or NIVA, burst into existence a couple of weeks ago, as a reaction to the COVID19 crisis. Since then, NIVA brought on over 1000 independent venues and is lobbying the government for support. NIVA provides resources and information to its member venues to help them through this time. As events start to return, NIVA will serve as a foundation for uniting independent venues against massive competitors like Live Nation and AEG.
If you represent and independent venue or organizer, we highly recommend signing up: https://www.nivassoc.org/.
Other resources for independent venues
A few other groups and individuals have stepped up to the plate to help Independent venues get through COVID-19.
Eventbrite is the largest ticketing company for independent venues in the US, so it comes as no surprise that they have put together resources to help their customers get through this. You can find more information on Eventbrite’s website.
Simply put, Gift Up! issues digital gift cards. While not explicitly for the events industry, Gift Up! has found a home here in light of COVID-19. Independent venues can use Gift Up! To refund fans instead of paying them back. Venues and organizers will incentivize fans to take these gift cards by offering greater value than the face value of the initial ticket. To many venues, Gift Up! makes the difference between survival and bankruptcy. You can find more information on their website.
Gift Up! is integrated with Eventbrite, so it’s easy to implement.
Patreon is a subscription service for creators that has recently wound a home among independent venues. The idea is simple, subscription models like gyms can survive social crises as long as their customers don’t cancel their subscriptions. Venues rely on customers actively buying tickets to every event.
Patreon promises venues a steady stream of revenue. In return, the venue will offer special services like discounted tickets or backstage passes.
Today, fans are signing up to support their favorite venues and to help them get out of this mess. More info on their website.
Viewcy is a streaming platform, but one designed with the concert experience in mind. Stick by your friends as you watch your favorite artist perform, or go to the “bar” to meet strangers. The Viewcy team can also build you a streaming platform designed for your venue. Learn more on their website.
What independent venues are doing independently
I could probably write a book on all the cool things independent venues are doing right now to keep the culture alive.
Here are just a few things my favorite New York venues are up to:
Independent venue Nowadays teamed up with The Lot Radio to live stream shows on its website.
The 92nd Street Y is live streaming several classical performances on its website.
Baby’s All Right is selling jewelry. For $200, fans can have their very own Baby Chain of Love, and secure free tickets to every future show.
Music industry journalist Cherie Hu put together an excellent directory covering some of the best virtual events in New York and around the world. She also goes into the myriad streaming resources available to creatives.
I must cut this off here or else this article will never end. I hope that some of what I shared above turns out to be valuable for an event organizer or independent venue. If nothing else, I want to show that there is hope for the events industry, hope that creative magic will reemerge from the smoky basements of New York, hope that we will be able to celebrate life with friends and strangers in front of speakers that probably shouldn’t be so loud.