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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » Film-Yak   » Social media, valuable property are killing live music venues

Author Topic: Social media, valuable property are killing live music venues
Frank Cox
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1976
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011

 - posted 01-14-2017 02:56 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Social media, valuable property are killing live music venues
It's a refrain heard in cities across Canada: small but influential live music venues are struggling and closing.

Toronto's The Hoxton and Hugh's Room, and The Carleton in Halifax are among the latest victims of the trend, joining Vancouver's Railway Club, which closed in 2016.

There are a host of reasons, from the changing habits of music lovers to harsh financial realities. One important issue is that some of these venerable venues sit on valuable real estate.

"In a city like Toronto or Vancouver or Halifax, real estate is incredibly valuable when you're in the downtown core," said music publicist Eric Alper.

"Somebody offers you a couple million dollars to put up condos, you're going to think real, real easy on making that transition."

More troubling, however, is that today, "university-aged kids don't go to shows," Mike Campbell, owner of Halifax's Carleton Music Bar and Grill, told CBC News.

"There's a generation or two out there that I would be surprised if they've ever seen live music."

He said the way many people consume music has drastically changed. Young people are more often engaging with and streaming music via mobile apps rather than checking out a new act in person.

"How we all meet now [is] with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube, iTunes, Spotify," noted Jason Parsons of Toronto band USS.

He and bandmate Ashley Buchholz are among those lamenting the demise of smaller music clubs — seen as an important incubator for new and up-and-coming performers.

Some of the shuttered venues, like Hugh's Room and the Railway Club, are hoping to reopen in some capacity but it's still unclear what that will look like.

With fewer launching pads, music lovers worry, emerging artists may not have the venues needed to turn them into stars.

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Jim Cassedy
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 - posted 01-14-2017 03:45 PM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To quote Bob Dylan:
" The times, they are a-changin' "

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 01-14-2017 04:08 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This just gets back to lazy, short-sighted, CHEAPSKATE consumers cutting their own throats by getting anything they can for free via the Internet. It's another example of race to the botton economics ruining a good thing.

Live music venues are part of what gives a city any real night life. Such venues are a vital part of the music industry. Without such venues the music industry would be populated only by fake bands assembled by producers and music industry executives. The country and pop genres are already badly polluted with that crap already. The "performers" are picked based on how good they look on camera. Session musicians do the real playing both on the recorded material and if the "band" goes on tour. Some other people we never see do the actual song writing. Fake-ass crap.

Smaller venues are often better places to see real bands perform. The experience is more "intimate," meaning you're not in the upper mezzanine of a 20,000 seat NBA/NHL arena and can actually see the band members more clearly. And you can see how well the band has their chops. The tickets usually aren't nearly as blinding expensive either.

The Internet has declared war on the "getting out of the house" experience. I think it's critical for the cattle who make up so much of our general public to pull their heads out of their asses about this. Brick and mortar retail is under attack and losing via the big sales tax difference. Movie theaters are under increasing threat by various avenues of attack, nearly all of which are Internet-based. Retail music stores have been disappearing in droves. Retail book stores are vanishing. So it's not much of a surprise to hear live music venues are struggling.

The thing I have to laugh about is these douche-bags who think they're transforming city cores selling high priced condos and even replacing music venues with that crap. Do they not realize what the big attraction to the city core is supposed to be? It's mainly about getting out of the house and doing things that are fun. What the hell are any of the yuppies supposed to do if the businesses in the downtown core go bust? Those high priced condos aren't going to seem very attractive at all if the city core is stone dead after dark.

If current trends continue the hustle-bustle parts of cities will be relics of the past. Cities will be made up of just houses, warehouses and factories. The fucking grocery store will be the most exciting part of town. Damn that's going to be boring as hell. But everyone can get in their Internet coccoons and not interact with anything or anyone for real. They can even poop, pee and have sex through a digital connected tube.

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Kenneth Wuepper
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From: Saginaw, MI, USA
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Live music is not what it used to be. The volume is DEAFENING! If you had the choice to hear it in you home or with headphones at volume and balance you chose or pay big dollars to be driven deaf live, is there a choice? The recordings are mixed so you can actually hear the vocalists and understand the words of a song. In the live concert, the 16 microphones on the drum kit are first tuned for maximum and then every other instrument is made to sound over those drums with the vocals last to get a single microphone shot at the towering line array speaker and the thundering sub speakers.

I asked a sound technician why he made it so loud. Answer: "because I can make it that way!"

There have been lots of technical advancements in live sound but most of them have led to increased volume due to comb filtering that reduces feedback and the ability to produce increased bass volume.

It is possible to put your hand on the walls of a venue and feel them move from the bass. Decorative plaster doesn't stand a chance!

Is this really entertaining? Is it worth the cost of admission?
Why are my ears still ringing the next morning after attending a live concert? (I forgot my hearing protection again)

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 01-15-2017 12:31 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree the sound should not be painfully loud. I've been to some concerts both in big arenas and smaller venues where the sound quality was actually really good (proper EQ, good "stereo" spread of sound, dynamic but not shrill) but that kind of thing can be rare depending on the kind of music being played. If it's something like jazz then odds are better the PA system's sound quality will be set up well. If the genre is hard rock or metal then it sadly could be really terrible -just a big, loud, shrill and mono sounding headache.

Funny thing: one of the very best sounding concerts I attended was a Nine Inch Nails show in Oklahoma City about 10 years ago. Rush also tends to do a great job with their sound setup.

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

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From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
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 - posted 01-15-2017 10:21 AM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm with Kenneth on this one.

Several years ago, I took my family to a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert at Seattle's Key Arena (not known for great acoustics in the first place). The sound was so deafening, I could get an acceptable level by plugging my ears with my fingers (note to self... IF I ever do this again, bring earplugs). We finally left, it was so bad.

For some time after that, my kids, not having used the "fingers in your ear" method, used the concert as an excuse not to hear me. [Roll Eyes]

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Sean McKinnon
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 - posted 01-15-2017 11:36 AM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Some local "underground" music "scenes" can still attract a decent audience but with a lack of places for bands to play and with ticket prices in the less than $20 range it can be hard for bands to book shows. I've been to shows at VFW halls and typical wedding style function halls with no stage. Unfortunately a lot of the clubs want to start live music shows early and have a hard out of 10-11 o' clock. So a local music show with 3 opening bands and a headliner ends up with doors at 5:30 or 6:00 which can be tough for a lot of people who work etc... The clubs want everyone out by 10 pm so they can turn the room over and become a dance club for the rest of the night.

I agree a lot with the quality issues of the sound reinforcement. A lot of venues sell disposable ear plugs at the box office for $1 or $2 a pair. Vocals tend to get drowned out. In a room that holds only 300 people is there much need to overly mic drum kits and guitar amps? I've heard great sound quality in small rooms from a drum kit that is not mic'd guitar and bass stacks not mic'd or patched in to the P.A. and only the vocals being mic'd and reinforced by the P.A.

I've also been to shows where it was so bad that the bands couldn't even get a decent mix out of the monitors so they could hear the vocals. As with anything the quality and experience varies greatly between venues.

A lot of smaller influential clubs in major cities couldn't (or chose not too) make it in $15 tickets and alcohol sales. In Boston the famous "Rat" closed to become condos, the axis and Avalon closed (to become a larger venue a "House Of Blues" where only larger acts play.) Even CBGB's in NYC closed. It's extremely sad that there are not a lot of places left for good local bands to play often.

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Lyle Romer
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quote: Bobby Henderson
The Internet has declared war on the "getting out of the house" experience. I think it's critical for the cattle who make up so much of our general public to pull their heads out of their asses about this. Brick and mortar retail is under attack and losing via the big sales tax difference. Movie theaters are under increasing threat by various avenues of attack, nearly all of which are Internet-based. Retail music stores have been disappearing in droves. Retail book stores are vanishing. So it's not much of a surprise to hear live music venues are struggling.
I agree with you 100% when you mention this push for the "hermit utopia" where everybody wants to be locked inside doing nothing but waiting to see what Kim Kardashian tweets.

The whole reason that real estate became valuable in downtown areas is that people wanted to live close to bars, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping, etc.

Why does anybody need to live in an expensive small condo or apartment if you aren't going to go to any of these venues?

This trend isn't going to end well for society as a whole. Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs host and narrator of what seems like 1000 Discovery Channel shows) was being interviewed about manufacturing jobs.

He mentioned that some historical figure (can't remember who) said that the two biggest threats to freedom are anarchy and absolute efficiency. The "stay at home and live on the internet" trend moves us closer to the latter.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 01-15-2017 01:41 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
70% of the economy in the United States is based on consumer spending. That mainly involves people leaving their homes and buying stuff in brick and mortar retail stores and other businesses with a physical store front. The spending supports those jobs in all those stores and helps supports the local tax base. Tax free online merchants are upending that balance.

Those who want to cocoon themselves in "hermit utopia" may unwittingly put themselves out of their own jobs. As jobs dry up in places like live music venues, music stores and a growing list of retail stores that overall loss of income can spread into other job sectors. I worry about my own job in this situation. We're not a retail operation, but much of our business depends on companies with retail operations.

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Martin Brooks
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The decline of music venues goes back long before the advent of YouTube and social media. Bill Graham closed the Fillmore East in June of '71 after the manager of The Who said that $50,000 for a week of performances was not enough money. (That's $298,000 in 2016 dollars).

And long before that, all the Jazz clubs on 52nd street were pushed out by Rockefeller Center and other real estate development.

In NYC, I used to pop in to Chicago Blues and Manny's Car Wash often. But with Manhattan rents being what they are, it's impossible for these places to survive. The Bottom Line didn't pay their rent for over a year before NYU finally threw them out. And of course CBGBs closed. Etc. The problem with most music clubs, even if they're bars is that most only really do business two nights a week, so at best, they only have four sold out shows a night. That's not sustainable in today's real estate world.

Real estate values are probably the biggest factor. It's also why in cities where real estate values are high, the old movie palaces didn't survive, but in places where it's not as hot, many have survived or were turned into concert venues or cultural centers. It's also why almost everything that was once unique about NYC is disappearing as the chains take over. Real estate companies prefer chains because they know the rent is going to get paid and there's less turnover. Frankly, I don't know why tourists come to NYC any more. The restaurants and retailers are the same as in every shopping mall in the country.

Having said that, there's still a few hundred music venues in NYC and many new ones have opened. So if you want to hear music, there's still plenty of places to do so, but it's not like the days of the Fillmore, where you could go there almost every week and not have to search out other venues.

I do agree that sound levels in most places are absolutely ridiculously loud - loud beyond the threshold of pain. I remember seeing an opening act in a small club. The guy played solo flute and the mixer had him cranked up as if he was a heavy metal band.

There's a band called the Ed Palermo Big Band. He usually does the music of Frank Zappa with a 20-odd piece orchestra, but sometimes he does the music of Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield. I saw them perform in a place that wasn't usually a music venue. So they played with a portable mixer and a small P.A. system. They didn't bother miking the horns because they didn't need to. The sound was fantastic. A few months later I saw them at the Bottom Line, which seated about 200. The mixer blasted us out of the room. It was beyond the threshold of pain. And the mixer was this kid who was wearing a wool hat over his ears, which enraged me. I told him that the levels were beyond the threshold of pain, but he mocked me. I bet he has severe hearing loss now.

Between the insecurity of bands and the ego of sound mixers (and I'm an ex-recording engineer myself) they make the levels ridiculously loud which turns the mix to mush and causes tedium. But because it causes tedium and the nerve endings in the ear "tire", you can't hear anything and so the mixers drive up the levels even higher as the show goes on. Sound levels are always higher during the second half of a show. The same thing happens with the band on stage, even though they have their own monitor system - as the show goes on, you'll always see band members pointing to the stage mixer and asking for the levels to be increased. And for some reason, people never complain about the levels. They think it's macho to go with it even though the ear is not a muscle. I've been to movie theaters where the sound levels are ridiculous as well. Mixers (and Directors) have forgotten what dynamic range means and how to use it.

Even with hearing protection, I came out of a Beatles tribute band concert with tinnitus. I had ringing for a year. I still think I'm hearing noise all the time, but I can't be sure - I would only know if it disappeared.

The problem now is that most sound mixers don't know what good concert sound sounds like because they've never heard it. So it just gets worse and worse.

Sales tax is actually becoming less of an issue because as the online retailers get bigger and bigger, they're opening more warehouses and offices in more states to reduce shipping time and 'nexus' results, which means they have to charge tax. So since Amazon has offices in NYC, they charge sales tax here which they didn't use to do. The bigger threat is that Amazon is experimenting with brick and mortar stores. They want to own everything.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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I hope Amazon opens a bunch of retail stores in every state. They'll have to deal with all the extra overhead, staffing issues and other challenges that come with running a retail operation. And they'll lose their all important sales tax advantage. They'll still be on the predatory level of Walmart or Target. But right now I think Amazon is much worse due to the sales tax thing.

quote: Martin Brooks
Frankly, I don't know why tourists come to NYC any more. The restaurants and retailers are the same as in every shopping mall in the country.
That's gentrification for you. The truly local, independent operations are pushed out of the prime areas, which often includes any outlets for night life that have any real personality, such as a small to medium sized live music night club.

New York City may still have a lot of venues where up and coming bands can play. I think the situation is getting tougher outside of really large cities. There is a lot of overhead with running a larger sized night club that hosts live music.

In regions like mine such venues are thrown into competition with any number of casinos that added their own music venues. The funny thing is casino venues typically do not book unknown bands, especially ones that play really heavy music or alternative forms of rock music. They seem to prefer booking "dinosaur" bands, ones that are many years past their prime. For instance here in Lawton the Fort Sill Apache Casino is fixing to open a new 50,000 square foot event center. The building can host concerts for up to 1200 people. The first bands to play there will be 38 Special, The Oak Ridge Boys and Montgomery Gentry. We used to have a medium sized night club called The Diamondback that could host dinosaur band concerts as well as up and coming acts. But it shut down about 10 years ago, in part because three different casinos less than 100 miles away soaked up the dinosaur band tour business.

In the end young bands are left having to duke it out in really small bars with very limited seating and very limited pay checks. I have a friend who plays drums in a Tulsa-based hard rock band called The Normandys. They have to play a lot of crappy small bar gigs. Every once in awhile they'll get a opening slot in a bigger venue like Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa or the Diamond Ballroom in Oklahoma City. They scored a spot in the band lineup for Rocklahoma this year, which is a pretty big deal. Rocklahoma is easily one of the biggest live music festivals in the nation.

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Louis Bornwasser
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From: prospect ky usa
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I have even been to weddings where the dj had such an ego that no one could scream over the sound. Repeated attempts to get it lowered a bit only lasted 10 minutes before it went back up.

I have had some luck threatening to cut the power cord off the extra amplifiers with my side cutters.

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