Could this be the future for Victorian music venues?
Victoria’s live music industry has spent the past 18 months weathering the ongoing storm of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and we’re sad to say it, but the fight to survive is far from over.
Emerging from our ffith lockdown since the pandemic began, businesses are still operating at significantly reduced capacities, large-scale events are struggling to get off the ground, and employers are battling a time where they can no longer rely on wage subsidy packages to sustain themselves and their staff.
While we thought it would all be over once 2021 rolled out, the music industry (and the entertainment industry at large) is still on its knees.
Forcing the industry to adapt in order to survive, one thing we’ve seen emerge in the past week is venue membership schemes.
The key takeaways
- Victorian music venues are being forced to adapt in order to survive
- Cherry Bar and Volta have introduced membership schemes
- Memberships can be purchased at different levels with varying benefits
Cherry Bar, a live music institution in Melbourne’s CBD, last week launched the Cherry Massive membership, offering customers key rings, entry to exclusive events and discounts on drinks in exchange for a fee to help cover the business’ $14,500 monthly rent.
Having been forced to close its doors to the public for six months since March last year, and intermittently traded at reduced capacity, the Melbourne bar owner James Young is asking loyal customers to sign up to a membership for $1 to $2 a day.
“By far our most intimidating regular expense is our rent at Cherry. Because we’re right in the heart of the City and we have a 24-hour 7-days-a-week Liquor Licence, our monthly rent bill is a whopper,” he said over Facebook.
“If we could just get our rent paid every month, then that would alleviate so much pressure from Cherry Bar that we would be guaranteed to survive and continue supporting live local music and rock n roll good times for many many years to come.
“We’re hoping that… We can get the Cherry Massive to pay our rent!”
Using the online Patreon system, the Cherry Massive Membership system a host of options available from a ‘pet membership’ from $5 a month, all the way through to a ‘business membership’ for $60 a month for annual Memberships.
Benefits for signing up as an inaugural Cherry Massive Member include Cherry Massive medallion/key-ring mailed to you anywhere in the world, Cherry Massive tea towel, 15% discount on your drinks at Cherry Bar, during your 12-month membership period, plus a slew of perks like discounted ticket prices and priority access to secret shows from artists.
“There will be real value for being an official Member of the Cherry Massive and for a dollar-a-day you can honestly say that you’re paying the rent at Cherry Bar.
“For those who can’t afford a dollar a day, we of course understand and sympathize with your situation. We still love you and hope you’ll forgive us for making this desperate request at this desperate time.”
Three days after launching the membership option, Young had received about 250 sign-ups — more than 50% of his 400 target, so he might be onto something here.
Unsurprisingly, it’s not the only Victorian venue to look at new ways to sustain their longevity, especially when Government grants are just short-term fixes.
Ballarat live music venue Volta, previously Karova Lounge, has also introduced a membership scheme in the hope of allowing them to continue showcasing talent and diversity in regional Victoria. Likewise, to Cherry Bar, Volta has also had its doors shut for the majority of the past 18 months.
“We have been working hard over the last couple of months to deliver a Volta membership subscription through Patreon! Having the communities support, especially over the last year and a half, has been truly special and we want to give back and have some awesome rewards on offer for that support.”
Here Volta are offering four types of memberships, starting at just $10 a month, and going up to $45 a month, depending how much cash you’re willing to commit. Benefits include exclusive patron-only private shows, VIP line access, pre-sale tickets, free merch, free entry after shows and even a $50 bar tab on your birthday!
It’s a bold move from the venues, but in a world riddled with coronavirus and the unpredictability of lockdowns and restrictions, it’s certainly worth them giving it a shot – especaiily if it means a return to supporting live local music.
In normal times, Victoria’s live music venues have audiences of more than a 100,000 any given Saturday night, and that’s bigger than an AFL grand final. In turn, it drives the economy and creates jobs for everyone from musicians to DJs, bar staff to security guards, promoters, publicists, sound engineers, you name it.
If this is what they’ve got to do to keep their business afloat throughout Victoria’s many lockdowns and hopefully revive the once-thriving industry, then it’s what they’ve got to do.