16-Nov-2008 (Sun) Wherein are found photos and frustration.

Photos are up of the Stripmall Architecture + Claire Voyant + BloodWIRE show: a really fantastic show that not many people came to, despite it being (as far as I can tell) very heavily promoted. Stripmall/Halou have played here a number of times, and yet, when they play here we generally get less than half the turnout than they get when they play at Du Nord. I wish I had some idea what we're doing wrong. It's incredibly frustrating.

You won't be seeing very many live shows here for a while, because we're again without a talent buyer. The last guy succeeded in booking only hiphop and reggae, because that was all that interested him. I could have gotten over the fact that I'm completely uninterested in those genres if we hadn't also lost money on almost every show. But, that turned out to be a mind-blowingly expensive six month experiment.

Quite a few times here, we've ended up hiring people to do jobs that they've never done before, or promoted existing employees into said jobs. Sometimes that works out ok, but for this job, failure is really expensive. When you're booking shows, you have to spend a bunch of money long before the show happens, in the form of advances, advertising, etc. So you might have a ton of money out there on show number six before show number one has even happened. That makes it hard to tell whether things are going well or poorly until a whole lot of money has already been spent.

You'd be surprised how hard it is to find someone with experience as a venue's talent buyer. You can shake a tree and have twelve promoters fall out, but it's not quite the same job (even though most of them assume that it is).

This time I'm hoping to find someone who has actually done the job before, preferably someone who's doing it right now at some other venue. Someone whose phone already contains the numbers of the various talent agencies, and has relationships with the useful people there, because their last job also involved spending all day on the phone with those people.

Know anybody? Send them my way.

Meanwhile, we've got this shiny new all-ages permit, and very few shows that are taking advantage of it. We ought to be having twelve or sixteen live shows a month, and we average around three.

Plus now it's the end of the year, and with the single exception of New Year's Eve, the club business is usually in the toilet from December through the end of February. People just don't go out. (We sometimes get one or two company holiday parties, and those help, but that's pretty rare.) Also, as far as we can tell, business has been significantly down for almost all clubs in SF this year compared to last year. Why? Who knows. Gas prices are probably a good guess.

It really was a good show.

But its turnout is just loudly reminding me that when I opened this place seven and a half years ago, my goal was live music. And though we've been not-entirely-unsuccessful as a dance club, we've been pretty solidly failing at that live music thing the whole time. Not to mention, not making a dime.

It's very frustrating.

24 Responses:

  1. mc_kingfish says:

    Since Hubba Hubba Revue is at the DNA, it's there through the holidays, and includes live bands every month, I believe I'm right in saying that everyone reading this particular DNA Lounge Update is beholden to go to all Hubba Hubbas from now into Eternity (including, but not limited to, the next 3 months.)

    Also, everyone: don't stay home 'til February. Go out, do stuff.

    Do that instead of buying a lot of crap for Christmas. You don't need crap. You need fun.

    With Booze.

    There's a lot of that at the DNA Lounge.

  2. wikkit42 says:

    Well shit. I can see that being really frustrating.

    If you get somebody to do your booking, and you get someone I like, I'll come up from Mojave to see it. I miss living in a college town and seeing live music every week.

    Any use in doing cheap stuff like local bands? Or would it just drive off more bar people to have possibly mediocre music?

  3. unwoman says:

    It seems like the biggest crowds for live music are almost always in the context of 1 band's short set within a DJ night (a la erstwhile pop roxx, or New Wave City, etc.) People in SF just aren't into seeing live bands. Except at places that get, for whatever reason, a lot of draw regardless of band, like Du Nord.

    Actually I have a crazy idea. Book a few really high-profile, more-than-you-can-probably afford bands to play there and get people started coming, outside of goth/industrial I mean. Once you have a talent buyer this might be something to (judiciously) pursue.

    And one more crazy idea, I think you need a bigger sign. People are always coming up to me, as I walk near 11th and Harrison, and asking me if I know where the DNA lounge is. I always laugh and tell them. (OK, always is actually just 2x in the last 2 months...)

    • mysterc says:

      Please, PLEASE, For the love of all that you hold dear to your life...
      Do not bring up the DNA Lounge sign.

      • unwoman says:

        ok, clearly i missed something, which is nothing new. nevermind.

        • jwz says:

          The sign is a tar baby. There have been no less than five different volunteers to "just fucking make it happen already". It always goes nowhere.

      • HA! HA! The topic of THE SIGN came up this weekend among a crowd of regulars, and there was flinching and cautious statements leading AWAY from the topic.

  4. thargol says:

    Claire Voyant? Eeesh. There's a name from the past. I hadn't realised they were still around. Glad it was a good show.

  5. fantasygoat says:

    Perhaps one of the issues is that the DNA has a reputation as a goth/alternative club, so the normal douchebags and party people stay away because they think the place is full of PVC-clad weirdos.

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