Getting creative with your events can be beneficial for all parties involved. The more unique the better as the event can create quite a buzz if you have the right idea and execution.
Experimenting with events for your live music venue is beneficial to keep your locals entertained and new faces walking through the doors. This can help expand the venue’s genres that are hosted and what kind of gigs can be best suited for your small venue. Take a look at these 10 live music event ideas we have put together to seek some inspiration.
1. Battle it out
Looking for some new music and want to give exposure to local talent? Host a Battle of the Bands. This doesn’t have to be restricted to bands though. If your small venue is looking for something new, advertise different genres or heats to make the finale really interesting. To make it a bit more fun, allocate random judges from the audience to make the decision on who wins. Better yet leave it up to the audience to decide. Whether it’s score cards, tokens in a jug or a cheering competition that determines the winner, the options with this type of event are endless.
2. This one’s dedicated to…
Dedicate a night to the greats akin to Queen, David Bowie and The Beatles, or the day Rhianna finally releases another album (at this point it is wishful thinking). Spotlighting some DJs for the night for a dance party or getting local live bands to play one dedicated cover of the artist can be a fun night. Maybe even a tribute band, DJ or other performers (Drag Queen or King lip-sync anyone?) can add a fun twist to the event.
3. Cover Bands
Having a lineup of cover bands can also be a great way to generate hype for your venue. Who doesn’t like reliving a simpler time? As older bands like ABBA and Fleetwood Mac are topping the charts once more, hosting cover bands of different music can make for a great time. This opens your venues to a range of audiences who will make the effort to see their favourite tracks performed. A good pub rock sing-a-long is always a fun time and ensures that everyone will know at least two songs that are performed on the night!
4. Dress-ups and themed nights
Halloween isn’t the only night that people can put on a costume and dance the night away. Similar to the dedication night, hosting a dress-up party to a particular theme can be a fun way to host different music. Pirate night? Get some folk bands to perform some sea shanty-esque songs. The themes are endless. Some ideas we can share are viral Vines, Film & TV characters, the 1980s, and The Great Gatsby. The list goes on. Make it one giant party and throw in some great artists to make it a live music event!
5. Sunday sessions
Make the typical Sunday session a bit classier with some live music to cure the hangxiety or Sunday scaries. Starting in the early afternoon, host an acoustic duo, jazz band or the blues to ease punters into the week. If your local venue has a kitchen, put a food & drink package together.
6. Dogs & Drinks
If your live music venue has an outdoor space, why not encourage bringing pets for a chilled out day, or even link it with the Sunday session that we mentioned above.
Despite not wanting to scare the pups, don’t be scared to experiment with the genres for this kind of event. A study conducted by the Scottish SPCA has shown that soft rock and reggae decreased stress in a dog by monitoring their heart rate. Alongside these, Motown, pop and classical also chilled them out. What more could you want on a Sunday than dogs, drinks and good tunes.
7. Festival (off) season
When festival season is out for the year, plan your own live music festival within the venue. Starting early and leading into the late hours, chuck a great lineup together for people to come in and out as they please. Rock, grunge, and punk make a good local lineup that sees masses of people flood in. Local Brisbane venue Greaser does this well with their 3-day festival “Fireball Festival”. Sponsored by Fireball, the local music venue has created a model where Friday is free entry for a smaller lineup, then paid entry for Saturday and Sunday with a larger all-local lineup.
8. Silence at the disco
The popularity of the silent disco comes and goes in waves, starting with a concept in the Finnish film Ruusujen Aika (1969). Coming in and out of popular culture, festivals and venues have adopted this and entertained the masses.
If you happen to have the funds and can hire wireless headphones, get a few DJs together for a silent disco. It makes for a good time for the partiers and a funny time for staff. The beauty of a silent disco is the option to have multiple artists playing at once whilst listeners can choose what beat they listen to. Pop, EDM or Hip-hop, the audience can pick and choose as they please.
9. Market day
Celebrate the arts as a whole with a music and market day. Whether having vendors on-site or hanging their art and displaying their wares within the venue for sale, combine your music venue with other art forms to draw in various crowds. They may come for the market, but stay for the music. With a varied lineup, this can be a great chance to explore how to create a dynamic lineup.
An example of this can be starting out slowly going through different genres that sink into each other for a big send-off on the night. Your genres in the set list can go from acoustic to folk, followed by some Celtic punk (also known as folk-punk), to settle into heavier genres like punk, grunge or rock.
10. Speaking and singing truths
Following the idea of mixing arts, why not intertwine music with comedy or poetry. Celebrating all artforms once more, have a comedy or poetry (even both) set to open the music. This can be in the form of an open mic, signup set or a curated lineup to accompany what the live music event has to offer.
Operating as an open mic or a signup event allows all walks of talent to get on stage and show off the material they have. This can open the pathway for your small venue to find new local talent and explore different genres that work well. You may even find other ideal events for your live music venue.
Exploring different genres and events to host them at your venue can really expand your small music venue branding and exposure to the public. Between hosting standard gigs at live venues, adding in some novelty events that spark interest for the public can only create more excitement about the venue and what it has to offer.
If you’re just getting started on the live music journey, check out our ultimate rundown on everything from getting set up to hosting events right here