Why Melbourne live music venues should embrace change

Good strategy oftens requires undoing old habits and embracing new.  Firms who think outside the industry norm can often find themselves at a better place competitively.  External factors that look like threats  might actually be opportunities.

Take the current dramas in the Melbourne live music scene.  In the past week two long-running pub venues have hit the newspages with the tales of woe.  First, the Tote and now the Arthouse, have announced they will close their doors to bands and music fans, in the face on recently imposed laws regarding security requirements and opening hours.

Here’s a summary:

“The Arthouse’s manager, Melanie Bodiam, said Liquor Licensing Victoria had given the venue two options: close at 1am instead of 3am, or stay open until 3am at a reduced capacity of 90, instead of 300. She said both options were financially unworkable.

”Once our bands finish playing, musicians and patrons want to sit around, have a beer and a chat,” she said. ”We don’t want to have to usher them straight out the door.””


Now I have been a big gig-attendee over the years and love the sweaty confines of said venues (and numerous others), but it strikes me that there is a real opportunity to respond in a way that will be ‘punter-friendly’: start the bands earlier. Have the headline act on by 9.30.  That way you can still get the post-gig drinking bucks, while potentially also tapping into the come straight afterwork and have a meal beforehand market.  It works in UK extremely well.

It is too easy to get stuck in the well-worn groove of the firms/products around you.  But when faced with a challenge, think beyond the norm.  You might find there is a much bigger market over there…

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3 Responses to “Why Melbourne live music venues should embrace change”

  1. Gosh I'm Cool Says:

    Wow, what a great article self promoting how uber cool you are. Not only do i now know you have been “a big gig-attendee over the years and love the sweaty confines of said venues (and numerous others)”, but you’ve also been to venues in the UK too. Man, i wish i could write articles about myself this well, while pretending to offer advice on how to better the world. Kudos to you!

    If only you’d put as much effort into coming up with an answer for the current liquor licensing problem as you do into gazing lovingly at yourself in the mirror.

    Or perhaps you don’t see a problem with the fact that every pub in Melbourne who wants to have some ambient live music, or provide a lazy afternoon summer vibe, or give the next Bernard Fanning an opportunity to play live in front of 10 people, currently has to pay for security guards, regardless of whether the pub has 10 people in it. This is NOT a conducive way to ensure that Melbourne has an enduring live music scene going into the future. Suggesting that playing at 9.30pm will make the whole problem go away is naive at best.

  2. Andre Sammartino Says:

    If I was worried about appearing uber cool, I wouldn’t work as an academic.

    So, you run a pub do you? Or are you also commenting with only partial knowledge (like I do, and in fact most of us do)?

    And, sorry, you lost any cred with me when you sugegsted we should be encouraging more Beranrd Fannings 🙂

    As I have said in such altercations elsewhere, I do think the security impositions are a dramatically bigger challenge for the venue operators, and the issue they should be kicking and screaming about to the regulators. But you need to choose your battles. The hours issue is one that has been getting attention, but I can see opportunities for venues to innovate and win.

    But, if you think that is a dumb idea and that pubs should sit around saying “but we’ve always done it this way and now it aint viable”, then I hope you enjoy your nights on the couch in the future because many of your (and, dare I say it, despite it being clearly a desparate grab for internet infamy, my) favourite venues will die.

  3. Tim Scott the Maggot Says:

    first para.
    Good strategy oftens requires undoing old habits and embracing new. Firms who think outside the industry norm can often find themselves at a better place competitively. External factors that look like threats might actually be opportunities.

    “strategy” “industry norm” “external factors”. i have two words that are actually one “powdermonkeys”!

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