Live music is a relationship-based business. To be successful, you’ve got to form and maintain good relationships with booking agents, artists and managers, and even fans.

In other words, reputation is everything. Everything you do on behalf of your music venue reflects both your and your music venue’s reputation. 

But despite your best intentions, is your team letting things slip through the cracks that could sabotage your success? Here are some common problems you might be overlooking.

1. Dropping the ball

There are countless contracts and informal agreements involved in running a music venue, whether with artists, sponsors, or partners.

With artists, for example, you might agree to provide a meal, book hotel rooms, do a certain amount of promotion, or provide whatever particulars are in the artist’s contract rider. If your team isn’t ready with these things when the artist arrives, you can be sure the artist or tour manager will get back to the booking agent, who will remember that the next time you’re talking to them about an artist booking.

In the case of fans, it’s not uncommon for a fan to call for a special request or accommodation. If you say you’ll be ready when they arrive then disappoint them, it can ruin your reputation.

The good news? Fans love to talk about bad experiences, but they’ll talk up good ones, too.

  • To save your reputation: Under-promise and over-deliver. For example, you could promise the band snacks, but also provide a full meal in the green room. By exceeding expectations, fans will be happy, and bands will want to play your venue again.

2. Copping an attitude

The music industry is full of big personalities. But the personalities on your team should never be bigger than your performers — or even your fans. 

Whether it’s with artists, agents, fans, or staff members, every time you deal with people is a prime opportunity to ruin — or bolster — your reputation. Even if a request or question seems silly, your team should respond with respect. The artist requests no green M&Ms? Pick them out — or say no, but with a smile and a joke. 

  • To save your reputation: Treat everyone with respect, all the time. Model professionalism in how you talk with fans and hold team members to the age-old mantra: the customer is always right.

3. Being disorganized

There are many opportunities for disorganization when you’re putting on shows night after night. There could be a confusing, long line at entry. A bartender could call in sick, leaving you understaffed — or your bar may be understocked. You may not have enough security. Everything could run late.

Any one of these challenges can spell out disaster. If you face them all, you’ll tank your venue’s rep.

4. Getting defensive

When things don’t go right, nothing makes a situation worse than not owning up to it. If any of the above situations goes wrong — and with shows every night, they’re bound to eventually — getting defensive will only cement a bad reputation.

When people point out problems, consider it an opportunity to make things better, not alienate yourself further.

  • To save your reputation: Take a breath, apologize, and focus on solutions. Take responsibility, focus on the fix, and set an example for your team. And — if the situation is public knowledge — consider responding (tactfully) on social media.

Want to build a great reputation instead? Check out How to Make Artists Love Your Music Venue: A Free Gig Checklist.

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