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  • Writer's pictureAmir Mertaban

How to Run a Venue. #EventDiversity

This is by far one of my favorite topics and one that is rarely addressed in the entertainment industry. This article will address Show Diversity and Audience Diversity.

Most venues pigeonhole themselves into a few genres of music or events. You might be a classy seated theater that only hosts broadway shows and symphonies. Or your venue is a dingy rock and roll club and the idea of puttings seats on your floor makes you vomit. Maybe you’re a city owned auditorium and the limit of your excitement is Tuesday Night Bingo. The point is, get off your high horse and your “artistic integrity” and start to push the boundaries of what can happen in your venue and what audiences are invited.

We’re all in the live entertainment space for various reasons… but almost everyone will tell you, once the lights come on and fans come rushing through your doors with excitement, giddiness (is that a word?) and wonder, that experience is priceless. It’s the culmination of all of your hard work no matter what your role is at the venue.

SO… why limit your venue’s ability to bring in a new and different event/audience.

Venues should look at their space as an open white board and try as hard as they can to go after events in each of the following categories:

Show Diversity

Promoted Shows

  • A Promoted Show is a show/event that you are producing/taking risk on at your venue. This is a show that you reached out to an agent on and agreed to a price for the show in advance. You’re actively selling tickets to this and marketing it with the hopes of making your money back from ticket sales and any other ancillary revenue at your venue.

  • Example… you’re paying Kevin Hart $250,000 to perform at your venue. You have 2,500 tickets for sale at $100 each.


  • This is by far my secret weapon and one that has made the venues I’ve managed millions of dollars. This will be addressed in another post

Private Events

  • Private Events are awesome because the venue takes NO risk and the client pays for everything. Flow through on these events can be as high as 90-95% sometimes (if you don’t know what flow through is, message me). The are two major problems that you have to figure out before welcoming these types of events:

  • Most venues are complete jerks if you’re event isn’t bringing in an obscene amount of money. Not all, but most.

  • Most event planners don’t do their proper homework on the venue before booking it. “You don’t have WiFi?!?!... No ma’am this is a hippie commune in Death Valley, you didn’t see that on the website?”

  • If you’re going to welcome Private Events, you better have a plan in place and the right team to support

Self-Produced Events

  • This is another secret weapon of mine and one that doesn’t always equate to huge profits but comes with a ton of long term benefits

  • Post coming soon on this as well.

Audience Diversity is something that venues just skip over. Many times the leadership of the venue dictates the content. So if the booker is rock and roll, your venue is rock and roll. If the Director of Sales has a lot of wedding experience, your venue is mainly booking weddings. If you’re a club in Nashville, you think you should only have country acts. This is so stupid and extremely limiting. Venues need to go after every type of audience that is in their reach.

Audience Diversity & Niche Communities

  • It’s so important to understand the demographics of your surrounding cities. You could be sitting on a gold mine if you start paying attention to what niche communities exist in your areas.

  • Let’s use the city of Pomona, CA as an example. The city is around 70% Hispanic and 10% Asian. The other 20% we’ll leave out for now. Most of the major venues in Pomona aren’t promoting any Hispanic acts and there’s a huge Vietnamese population in that city that basically doesn’t really have a venue to host their events. I’m making lots of generalizations here, but what I’m trying to show is that you could target niche communities simply by inviting them to the venue and I promise you, they’ll come back in droves!

  • Last comment about this… back at the Warner Theatre in DC, one of things I loved about our calendar is the diversity of shows that we hosted/booked. Keep in mind, this is a historic theater from 1924:

Indian Concerts (Arijit Singh)

Persian Concerts (Moein)

Jam Bands (Tedeschi Trucks, Widespread Panic)

Broadway Shows (Beauty & The Beast, Kinky Boots)

Comedy (Mike Epps, Jerry Seinfeld, Axis of Evil)

Swearing in Ceremony of Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch

T-Mobile Product Launch

Late Night with Seth Meyers

and every Urban stage play in the DC area

Family audience

Families are constantly looking for things to do and they typically will give you a lot of social love if their experience is solid.

I dare you to invite a new audience to your venue. Start by researching who’s out there and talk to people about what they would pay money to see.

If all else fails, contact us and we’ll help you out! or call (323) 207-5099

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