Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

DIY clubs, gigs, fun
User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 11:57

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a club night for a while now, so I was hoping for some advice. I’ll go into more detail about what kind of night it would be later, but for now I’m thinking of the practical stuff. I have no experience of putting on an event or hiring a venue or equipment, so don’t think something is too obvious to mention!
I suppose my main questions centre around the venue and equipment. Such as:

- Will everywhere ask for a booking fee or are there places that put nights on for free and rely on profits from the bar and/or a cut of entry fees?
- I’m probably going to have to find a small, cheap venue. While there is a niche for the kind of night I’ve got in mind, it probably wouldn’t get huge numbers of people through the door. With that in mind, it might end up at a venue without its own sound equipment (working men's club etc). If that was the case, what would I need, what are the kinds of costs involved in hiring, and where would I get it? Would I need a van (rather than car) to move things like speakers around?

I think I’d manage okay with promotion – between flyers, newspaper/magazine listings, message boards, mailing lists and a Myspace profile (sorry humblebee), I could get the word around well enough. Will I have to prove to venues that enough people are interested to make it worth their while letting me put it on? I guess that’s where the Myspace profile comes in.
I’m aware that I would need at least one other person on board to help organise/fund it and play records. That could be the main stumbling block, actually.

I think that’s enough to be getting on with. The main thing is that I’ve got an idea in mind* and I think enough people would be into it to make it worth doing. Any advice, particularly experiences of starting a club night from scratch, would be much appreciated.

* What I’m thinking of is quite heavily inspired by nights like Spiral Scratch; somewhere you can hear new indiepop as well as older ‘classics’. I know Glasgow already has NPL, which I love, but I feel like that caters to a more wide-ranging audience and tends to play a lot more stuff from the ‘80s and before. There would be a bit of overlap, but I think they would be different enough to make it worthwhile. I want somewhere that plays the kind of music that’s talked about on Anorak, basically.

User avatar
caramarydaisy
Posts: 2483
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2007 20:51
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: sheffield

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by caramarydaisy » Mon Jun 30, 2008 12:59

venues vary SO MUCH!

the best thing to do is just go along and try to talk to someone for ideas on hire fees, what equipment they have etc. take it from there. its obviously great to find somewhere free, but make sure you find out what sort of deal it is going to be in terms of bar takings etc. dunno muhc about hiring dj equipment.. most places will have something, even working mens clubs tend to have the basics.

its good yr being realistic about putting on something that maybe wont attract loads of people, but when talking to venues etc make sure you sell yr nite as much as you can otherwise you wont get anywhere. if they/you are unsure how its going to go suggest a few trial dates and see how they go.

look online for people who have equipment for djing, or ask around if you know any other places or people that put stuff on in funny places. ask on message boards, gumtree, ads in shops if people would be willing to hire out stuff to you for an evening. mobile disco firms etc might be a good place to start, but then it might just get into the realms of too much hassle and money. id definitely try and find somewhere set up, even if its basic. dont over stretch what you think you need.

where are you based/thinking of doing this?

you dont necessarily need other people on board either, it depends if you want chums there djing at yr side, but im sure you wouldnt be short of folk here or about the place to come over for a few drinks and play some songs with you..
i said OK! the wind said no

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 13:06

caramarydaisy wrote:where are you based/thinking of doing this?

you dont necessarily need other people on board either, it depends if you want chums there djing at yr side, but im sure you wouldnt be short of folk here or about the place to come over for a few drinks and play some songs with you..
Thanks for the reply! I'm in Glasgow, so it would be around here somewhere. I think the good thing about Glasgow is that there are quite a few smaller venues open to this kind of thing, and also that people are willing to go out to the sticks (read: the south side) if they hear of a night that's worth going to. So it wouldn't have to be slap-bang in the city centre (which I find massively depressing on a Friday or Saturday night). It's just a shame the old RAFA club has closed down, it would've been perfect.
I guess my thinking behind getting other people involved is partly to shield myself against losing a lot of money if I do it on my own and no-one shows up. It would also make it a bit more fun and would no doubt make the organising part less stressful.

User avatar
humblebee
Posts: 10543
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 16:33
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/atomicbeatboy
Location: Sheffields
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by humblebee » Mon Jun 30, 2008 13:14

From what I can see you have to be prepared to grit your teeth a bit in the early stages. All your mates will come to the first one and you think it's a runaway success, then no bugger turns up for the next few and you think "aaaaaargh!", but then, when word gets round, your numbers pick up. It often seems to be a question of building something up steadily rather than expecting instant success.

User avatar
crystalball
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 18:04
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/felters
Location: That London
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by crystalball » Mon Jun 30, 2008 13:16

Like Cara said, venues vary. Ideally you'd want to find a small venue that's sympathetic to DIY nights, doesn't charge too much and doesn't have a huge bar tab - free places usually rely too much on the bar takings and that can often be more of a problem than you might think. A lot of venues take the piss and ask you to cover the difference, so it could end up costing loads of money! So try and do a deal. If you're not a well known promoter, some venues may ask for a higher fee to start with and then if you do well, you can do a deal with them. A lot depends on whether you're planning to charge people to get in as well. Spiral Scratch is free but sometimes I think it would be worth us charging a couple of quid so that we could be a bit more flexible with venues.

I'd say the most important thing is: think small. If you know that you are probably going to attrack a small number of people, it's better to book a small venue where you would feel comfortable if, say, 20 people turn up. There's nothing more disheartening for a dj than an empty venue. And smaller venues are much better for encouraging people to dance too! Also: stick with it. Some nights are going to be busy, others are going to be quiet. Don't give up.

I think it's useful having your own decks, unless you find a venue that has a good set up (very rare in London - dunno about Glasgow).

At the beginning it might be worth getting other people in to help you dj. It can be quite intimidating trying to do everything on your own if you haven't done it before. And djing for 5 hours straight is knackering.

I'll try and think of more things!

User avatar
soft revolution
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 18:48
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/duncydunc
Location: somewhere in the bullring
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by soft revolution » Mon Jun 30, 2008 13:33

Colin wrote:- Will everywhere ask for a booking fee or are there places that put nights on for free and rely on profits from the bar and/or a cut of entry fees?
As the others have said, venues vary massively. It's usually much more expensive on a weekend, but I started The Autumn Store as a midweek thing and people came. I'm expert at clashing my stuff with other events at the moment, so it's worth checking the listings - especially for the first one.

I quite like the places that 'only' ask for a deposit, because it could be that if you get enough people down, you won't have any large outgoings and you can make it free in.
Colin wrote:I think I’d manage okay with promotion – between flyers, newspaper/magazine listings, message boards, mailing lists and a Myspace profile (sorry humblebee), I could get the word around well enough.
Start a blog too, people like a good blog. I always found flyers worked best for getting people down.

Other promoters - is it illegal to flyer gigs where you are? It is in Birmingham under some daft distribution of printed matter bylaw (which doesn't cover Birmingham Broad St which is the one place you want to stop people tipping flyers on the floor). Not that it's enforced mind.

If you're just starting off then I wouldn't bother with getting your own decks and just using what they've got at the venue. If you get really into it then you might think about it but it's best to start off with just your records and a set of headphones.

I had a technically minded friend on hand the first time I DJ'd too, in case there was something wrong with the venues set up. Most places will be ready for you to just walk up and put records on though. I asked if I could go down a few days before my first night to have a play about with their equipment.
And by me, I mean, Flexo.

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 13:54

soft revolution wrote:As the others have said, venues vary massively. It's usually much more expensive on a weekend, but I started The Autumn Store as a midweek thing and people came. I'm expert at clashing my stuff with other events at the moment, so it's worth checking the listings - especially for the first one.
I think that it’ll be hard enough to get people to come on a weekend, to be honest. I know not everyone’s like this, and not everyone works Mon-Fri, but I’d never go out to a club if I had work the next morning. I think it has to be on at least a Friday night to give it a fighting chance.
soft revolution wrote:I quite like the places that 'only' ask for a deposit, because it could be that if you get enough people down, you won't have any large outgoings and you can make it free in.
I'm confused - do you mean places that ask for a deposit that you get back if they make a certain amount from the bar?
soft revolution wrote:If you're just starting off then I wouldn't bother with getting your own decks and just using what they've got at the venue. If you get really into it then you might think about it but it's best to start off with just your records and a set of headphones.
I’m only planning on playing CDs, if that makes things any easier. Vinyl would be nice, but it’s too much hassle on top of everything else I reckon.

User avatar
soft revolution
Posts: 2058
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2007 18:48
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/duncydunc
Location: somewhere in the bullring
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by soft revolution » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:07

Colin wrote:
soft revolution wrote:I quite like the places that 'only' ask for a deposit, because it could be that if you get enough people down, you won't have any large outgoings and you can make it free in.
I'm confused - do you mean places that ask for a deposit that you get back if they make a certain amount from the bar?
Yeah, this is how most places in Birmingham do it. The place I usually use is around a £60 deposit which you get back if you make over £250 behind the bar, and a bit more on weekends.

On the downside, you might end up having to pay a £60 deposit out of your pocket or something (which is a good reason to get a few people doing it), but I'd rather do that than having the venue asking for a cut of the door which means that you have to charge at the door.

In an ideal world, a venue would give you a percentage of the bar takings to help cover band costs, but there we go.

Actually, on the topic of other people, it's good to finding someone with an overlapping though slightly different taste in music.
And by me, I mean, Flexo.

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:22

soft revolution wrote:Yeah, this is how most places in Birmingham do it. The place I usually use is around a £60 deposit which you get back if you make over £250 behind the bar, and a bit more on weekends.

On the downside, you might end up having to pay a £60 deposit out of your pocket or something (which is a good reason to get a few people doing it), but I'd rather do that than having the venue asking for a cut of the door which means that you have to charge at the door.
I suppose when doing things like this, you have to consider the worst-case scenario and decide if you could live with it. £60 I could live with, but if it ran into hundreds I probably couldn't.
This may be controversial, but isn't there a school of thought that says if it's free, people are going to somehow think it's less worth going to (i.e., if it was a good night I would be charging entry?) Don't you run the risk of selling it short and making people think it's a bit crap if it's free in? I guess not considering some people here have done free nights, but every club I've been to that's been worthwhile in Glasgow has charged something, even if it's just £3/4 (well, it usually is).
I feel like I haven't explained that very well. I just think people will maybe think less of it if it's free in.
Last edited by Colin on Mon Jun 30, 2008 15:12, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
crystalball
Posts: 5197
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 18:04
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/felters
Location: That London
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by crystalball » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:40

I can't possibly think what difference it would make to someone whether a club charges or not in terms of its quality but then maybe you're right, I really don't know. Ours is free because we don't want to make any money from Spiral Scratch - so we've always done our club night at venues that don't charge too much money (just a deposit). We just couldn't be bothered with having to do the door and worrying about money all night. If we ever move to a venue that requires a higher hire fee and we'd have to charge a couple of pounds, it would still be the same night. I've no idea how people perceive Spiral Scratch though!

A good night is a good night regardless of whether you have to pay at the door or not - and the reputation of a good night is built on the music played and the atmosphere. God, I hope people don't ever judge anything based on entrance fees!

User avatar
humblebee
Posts: 10543
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 16:33
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/atomicbeatboy
Location: Sheffields
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by humblebee » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:46

Maybe you should all start charging a tenner and use the tagline 'reassuringly expensive'. :)

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:52

I knew I was onto a losing argument with that one. I'm just going by what it's like in Glasgow, where if someone puts on a night that is, in my opinion, interesting and worth going to, it's always £3 or £4 in (or occasionally free before, say, 11pm depending on the venue). The free nights here are often fairly crap and not really something I'd consider going to. Of course you can put on a great night and not charge for it, and making money is the furthest thing from my mind in all of this. I'm just thinking of other nights I've been to in this city, and for any one I've enjoyed, I've generally paid to get into and been glad to do so. It goes without saying that if you could put on a great night, make it free and have people want to go, that's the best of all worlds.
Last edited by Colin on Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:59, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
kingofpartick
Posts: 631
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 17:26
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: Glasgow

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by kingofpartick » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:55

it might be worth asking the Flying Duck. They are looking into opening the kitchen area as a seperate venue and are trying to get clubs on that would be suitable for that. Its a really nice space and its not too big to fill. Plus they have all the sound gear you'd need, and wouldn't be looking for fee for hire. They also have bar staff that are into their indiepop and would be sympathetic to your clubnight.
I remember when all this was fields

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 30, 2008 14:58

kingofpartick wrote:it might be worth asking the Flying Duck. They are looking into opening the kitchen area as a seperate venue and are trying to get clubs on that would be suitable for that. Its a really nice space and its not too big to fill. Plus they have all the sound gear you'd need, and wouldn't be looking for fee for hire. They also have bar staff that are into their indiepop and would be sympathetic to your clubnight.
Thanks Gav. I have to say, the Duck came to mind but the full space is way too big for what I'm picturing. What you're describing sounds pretty great though. Does that mean they'd have two seperate things running at the same time? Wouldn't there be a problem with one drowning out the other?

User avatar
kingofpartick
Posts: 631
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 17:26
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: Glasgow

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by kingofpartick » Mon Jun 30, 2008 16:23

Colin wrote:
kingofpartick wrote:it might be worth asking the Flying Duck. They are looking into opening the kitchen area as a seperate venue and are trying to get clubs on that would be suitable for that. Its a really nice space and its not too big to fill. Plus they have all the sound gear you'd need, and wouldn't be looking for fee for hire. They also have bar staff that are into their indiepop and would be sympathetic to your clubnight.
Thanks Gav. I have to say, the Duck came to mind but the full space is way too big for what I'm picturing. What you're describing sounds pretty great though. Does that mean they'd have two seperate things running at the same time? Wouldn't there be a problem with one drowning out the other?
possibly would be two different things on, but the soundproofing is pretty good between the two rooms and you really don't notice it. I reckon its more likely that the kitchen will be open as a venue when the main area is shut. There are tentative plans afoot to have the kitchen open earlier with a more bar/social club vibe rather than a nightclub.
I remember when all this was fields

User avatar
JohaN
Posts: 337
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:03
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: adamastor's adam's apple

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by JohaN » Mon Jun 30, 2008 18:06

obviously i don't know the scene there at all, but when i did something similar back here a while back (without any equipment, experience... or, truth be told, prospects of an audience)... i ended up finding a club that was:
a) quite small
b) was mostly full on weekends BUT
c) had DJ's on every night anyway (mostly it was just one of the bar staff indulging him-/herself a little bit)

i played it very humbly - made an appointment with the manager adn took a sampler along with the stuff i'd be playing, and then asked for his quietest night.
that way, i figured, at worse there'd be no FEWER people there than normal, and there might be a few more, he was paying a DJ anyway, and as I was playing for practically free (i got teh equivalent of a fiver for a six hour set!) he was actually already scoring on the deal by not paying his normal DJ, and might do better.

in short, i think what made him give us a chance was the fact that we made it absolutely clear that he was in no possible way going to be worse off with us there, and might actually be better off.

not the most optimistic way of looking at it, but as a starting-out thing... well, it worked for us!

also -as humblebee said - grit those teeth (and that is why it is a goood idea to go into it with a buddy who is also really keen: the moral support is valuable!

GOOD LUCK! i'm sure it's going to be great! :)
1 wasn't for the money
2 wasn't for the show
3 is GO! GO! GO!

User avatar
RITH
Posts: 3355
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 08:35
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/RITH
Location: Almere
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by RITH » Thu Jul 17, 2008 18:31

Colin wrote:
soft revolution wrote:If you're just starting off then I wouldn't bother with getting your own decks and just using what they've got at the venue. If you get really into it then you might think about it but it's best to start off with just your records and a set of headphones.
I’m only planning on playing CDs, if that makes things any easier. Vinyl would be nice, but it’s too much hassle on top of everything else I reckon.
Yes, I would certainly choose CDs only (at least to start with). I've always liked to bring AT LEAST my own two familiar CD players (just to be absolutely sure they work fine) and my own very simple mixing panel. For DJing I like it if the CD players have a countdown timer. It seems too obvious to mention, but they do not all have that, and if you don't know a song 100% by heart, it can lead to some nerves. When will it end?! Also, depending on if you know where your DJ stand will be set up, bring something like a flashlight or a lamp you're sure you can plug in. Stupid? Yes. But I've tried DJing in the dark a couple of times and it's not much fun!

I would make sure you have either a second DJ or at least a backup friend who can let you go to the bathroom et cetera. If you don't find indiepop's 'Paradise by the dashboardlight', or something of similar long length, you might find yourself stuck behind the desks with your blatter exploding. Not fun.

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Thu Jul 17, 2008 21:02

Thanks Dennis. I don't have any of my own equipment so I'd have to throw myself on the mercy of the venue and use whatever they had. Despite what I said in my first post it looks like the places that I might stand a chance of getting will all have their own equipment. I've also managed to get someone else on board, one of our own parish in fact, which is a big relief.
I never intended this topic to be just about my club, by the way. I'd like if other people in a similar situation wanted to post here. Thanks for everyone's help so far though. I hope to have some news for you soon.

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Tue Aug 05, 2008 14:07

Okay, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes since my last post here. As some of you will know, lynsosaurus and I will be starting an indie-pop club night in Glasgow quite soon. We’ve now got a venue and a provisional date for the first night, and even a name! We’ve only just decided on the name within the last few minutes, so you’re the first to hear about it. I’ve started a thread in the Popshows and Clubs forum where we’ll post more information as we get it. Hope some of you can make it along.
I'd also like to say thanks for everyone's advice and encouragement. We probably wouldn't have got this far without it.

User avatar
Colin
Posts: 1834
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 23:56
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/colinbmx
Location: Glasgow
Contact:

Re: Starting an indiepop club night - advice please!

Post by Colin » Sun Aug 24, 2008 21:03

Triple post alert.
I'm starting to put together a playlist for our first night (eeee!), and I've realised that some songs I really want to play are only available on myspace in a non-downloadable capacity. I've got software that can record whatever sound is being played on the computer at the time and turn it into an mp3, which is what I tend to do if I hear something I like on myspace and want to have it on my iPod or whatever.
My question is, would it sound really shit if I played a song or two recorded by that method in a club setting? I know the myspace music player doesn't stream at a very high bitrate or whatever, but listening to those songs through a decent pair of headphones doesn't yield any kind of hideous noises or distortion. Would playing them over a club's PA almost help in a way, in that everything is going to sound loud and somewhat distorted to someone without earplugs so any little imperfections are going to be less obvious?
I could've said that in about 20 words, couldn't I? Ah well.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest