Why independent music venues matter more than ever
5 July 2019
As Independent Venue Week US begins, we asked venues taking part to tell us what independence really means to them. Here are their responses.
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First among equals
First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN) "We are one of the longest-running, independently owned and operated clubs in the United States. Our commitment to that independence is led by the belief that unique, locally-owned live music venues are imperative to the sustained wellbeing of the community.
“Independence means having the ability to be dedicated to our artists, fans, and staff. We believe building community health is more important than building shareholder wealth.”
Top of the shops
Arlene’s Grocery (New York, NY) “Independence means freedom of action and having the ability to think and act out of the box. It gives us the luxury to take risks, including showcasing unknown and unique talent.
“Independence also means wearing many hats and working long hours to ensure that everything that needs to be done actually gets done!”
Schubas (Chicago, IL) “Independence is key to who we are, empowering us to price fairly so we don't gouge fans, granting us the freedom to book the best from a variety of genres, and allowing space and opportunities for local artists from widespread backgrounds and communities in Chicago. By doing so, we can truly represent all the great talent this city has to offer.”
Pianos (New York, NY) "Independence means never being restricted by genre. Trying to constantly book the best music we can, without always having to worry about the bottom line, which is something that you can only get at an independent venue like ours.”
'All are welcome'
Mohawk (Austin, TX) “Independence means the freedom to write your own destiny. Independence for us looks like supporting developing artists, both local and national, and stoking the fires of awareness and activism. Engaging our community to where ‘all are welcome’ is more than a catchy tagline – it’s a way of life.”
Shaping the community
Kilby Court (Salt Lake City, UT) “Independence can be defined as the ability to help shape our community on our own terms. It was not long ago that young musicians had a hard time finding a venue to express themselves. Kilby is now the longest running all-ages venue in Salt Lake City.”
Doug Fir Lounge (Portland, OR) “Our independence as a venue allows us the freedom to host a wide array of programming that mirrors the voices and ears of the community around us. Whether they're seeing a local band from southeast Portland, or they happen to discover a new favourite from south London, we are here for them. Portland concertgoers are our board of directors.”
Mercy Lounge (Nashville, TN) “Whether it be a band or artist new to the scene or a national act hitting its stride, all are welcome to play in our venues and celebrated by our loyal, live music-loving patrons. We tirelessly prove every night that success can be had for all without surrendering to the corporate tide of venue ownership that has so significantly changed the landscape of live music in the last several years.
“We are here to stay, and here for Nashville – keeping it real, locally run, and live of course!”