Renting a Venue for the Band
Hi everyone. Noshi here. Singer of Nihil Admirari - for those of you visiting from not-our-website. And this post is about my (well our) experience trying to book and then eventually renting a place suitable for our very special EP release show that required intimacy, flexible volume rules, alcohol, a piano and some other stuff I'm about to get into. Relax.
Water: Ballade is our latest EP release, and it was our very first time booking a private location of our own. See because the concept of the album was to have a minor break away from our all-out balls-to-the-walls epic sound so that we could showcase our more subtly intricate skills and interests. It's a collection of ballads/mid-tempo songs including me doing my best piano-voice artist impression for a good 85% of the track (Ocean).
Some of the things we wanted/needed, in no particular order were:
1. An acoustic piano
2. An intimate setting
3. A flexible volume policy
4. Drinks allowed
5. A good date/time slot
6. Stage space
And I kid you not. These things were near impossible to find all in one.
Gigging in NYC, as far as we've experienced with our genre of music (which I'll talk about in a later post), is a series of bars, clubs and lounges. 99% of these laugh in your face (figuratively speaking...mostly) if you're looking for an acoustic piano AND a good date/time. I mean, given, if you can prove a pull that fills up the entire room guaranteed, people will freaking build a piano for you. But away from that dream, we failed before we even tried.
When traditional venues didn't seem to be working out for us because we didn't have the guaranteed pull, the date was taken, the size was off, no acoustic piano....blah blah blah. Therefore, our next step was to try this website called
Artery is a site built up on a community of DIY's. That is, you go to an apartment, a house, a rooftop, a garage, etc....and you have a show from scratch. Their shows are usually intimate with small crowds primarily - but not restricted to - Brooklyn. It's totally a Brooklyn vibe, and they have these secret music shows, art shows, ballet performances... How I've been in NYC this long and hadn't heard about them until now, I don't really know.
This site, however, did not work out for us because...nobody...has an acoustic piano. Also, the spaces are usually small, and if they're not, they're booked up like crazy. Plus, even though it was a show of ballads, Mike's drums and Vabo's acoustic would cause neighbor complaints.Go figure.
One of my favorite candidates was this guy. He tried helping even when he was out of town!
Mike V. and Vabo came upon several places which were either rented by the hour or by the entire day. So, we shifted gears and landed on two other websites:
This is where we ultimately ended up. I don't know why I listed this first, but it's a pretty straightforward website with listings of people that have spaces to rent. Like Artery, a lot of these spaces are boho chic to the tune of the usual house, apartment and so on, but the vast majority are big empty units in the middle of Manhattan.
You can review, inquire, book, discuss, see pictures, pay and all that jazz all on one website including extending a day. Since everything is handled by Peerspace, you have guaranteed insurance and protection of your products/equipment; somebody to complain to if things go south and a record to prove it.
The only downside, though, was that Peerspace does not have booking specials. That is, hosts list cost per hour, and that's that. So, say you wanted to book one of those 24 hour musical writing sessions with your friends. You'd have to pay by the hour instead of one bulk discounted fee. Boo.
Water: Ballade happened in Hell's Kitchen at a place managed by a guy named Hanna. It was a nicely sized intimate room on the second floor, kind of a cyber punk type vibe with exposed piping on the ceiling contrasted with a mirrored wall, huge bay windows and tiled floors. Hanna helped us move things and decorate, and he had a PA, mixer, lighting, chairs, tables and probably more had we asked.
Oh. And an acoustic piano for Noshi. ^_^
Another thing about Peerspace was that the website itself comes with all these extra services they offer (for quoted negotiable prices) like full service bars, staff, rentals (e.g. projectors) and a lot more bang for your buck.
This Open Space was an option because there were a few other spaces here that seemed feasible. Plus, even though they were all generally higher prices than Peerspace, they came with bulk discounts. 4-6 hour and all day pricings are on point. But we later found out that the vast majority of spaces available are for photo shoots. In fact, in a lot of the descriptions, there was this disclaimer something like "Prices listed for photo shoots only. For other events, please inquire."
Like what? That was a major turn off. Plus, a few of the people we contacted didn't even entertain our questions.
Pros of Private Booking
Full control over ticket pricing and earnings.
Full control over hours for set up, show, reception, etc.
You can decorate, byob, sell things other than just your merch.
Full control over sound mixing and engineering.
Larger variety in location, space and mood.
Full control over who joins your lineup.
No pull/ticket sales/grammy award winning media coverage requirements.
I mean, really, it's just nice to know that those that book you and those that manage the event/space care enough about you, your music and the scene you support to make sure you sound good, all the bands on a lineup match and that you're given as much advertising effort as they ask of you...because in this case, all those people are you. lol
Cons of Private Booking
You're on your own trying to make your rental money back.
Your show better be more than just your regular gig set.
Your space better be more than an empty room.
Most spaces don't have gear/sound system.
Good luck managing your band plus other bands and dealing with everybody's money.
No walk-in crowd. Don't expect new fans.
Yeah. It's great having control, but not all of us are management material. We are artists first. So, dealing with all these logistics come way after the creative aspect. That said, maybe some of us want to avoid the headache and just let someone else do it all. (shrug)