Many venue owners seem to think that the way to make more money is to push back last call. That may work a little, but I think they’re going in the wrong direction. The way to get more people out to shows is to have them start and finish earlier, especially during the week.
There’s NO WAY you can get me to a gig if your band won’t go on until after midnight on a Tuesday. But if your set was at, 9pm, I’d think about it. The earlier you schedule your school night gig (i.e. Sunday-Thursday), the better chance you’ll have of me attending.
I’m not alone in this opinion. Check out this article from The Stranger.
Veteran Seattle musician and former Experience Music Project official Ben London—who plays guitar in Stag and Selene Vigil’s band—brought to my attention a 2017 segment on CBC radio featuring Toronto musician/journalist Mar Sellars that touched on a subject that affects everybody who enjoys live music: start times for shows.
In the segment, she describes a scene in which she offered free tickets to friends to see Seattle’s Dude York and Scottish band PAWS for a Wednesday show in which the groups went onstage at 11:30 pm and 12:30 am… and nobody took her up on offer—not even a 25-year-old music critic for VICE. Sellars went on to note that concert attendance is declining in cities like Vancouver and Toronto. She argued that the draws for non-weekend events are much sparser than those for Friday and Saturday shows, because late set times deter people with day jobs from going out, at the risk of feeling rotten the next day from sleep deprivation. Maybe you can relate.
Perhaps the best strategy—at least for weeknight gigs—is to begin the action earlier.