Want to build new audiences for your music venue? Here are three things to keep in mind.

The music speaks for itself, right?

Live music venues do not have a tradition of audience development. Deep down we believe that if you put on great shows, the crowds will come.

It doesn’t work that way.

Precisely because we are so passionate about the music we put on, live music venues can get stuck in a closed loop. You start to think your audience consists of the type of people who like what you do. And that if you pick great bands, the audience will automatically follow.

Closed loops always lead to a dead end. It’s the law of diminishing returns.

If you don’t actively seek new audiences, who is going to come to your venue 5 years from now? Let alone 15 years from now?

Here are three principles for building new audiences for your venue.

  1. Be curious. Remember when you started out listening to your favourite bands? How you delighted in discovering new stuff? Cultivate that mindset for new genres and styles. Building new audiences means growing your curiosity for them. What do they need? How can you help them?
  2. Start from love. Don’t just tick off boxes. Actively move from ‘It doesn’t hurt that you are here’ to ‘I WANT you in my venue’. This also means being really picky about the kind of new audience you invite into your house.
  3. Adopt the gardener’s mindset. The world no longer needs gatekeepers. People care about the music, not about your opinion of the music. Instead try lovingly looking at the music that is happening around you and thinking “how can I help this grow”?

If it is true that the music speaks for itself, then audience development is about actively listening to what new music has to say.