Music Industry

When It Comes to Gigs, Don’t Push Back Last Call. Start the Shows Earlier!

I am forever getting invitations to see bands.

“We’d love it if you could come see us this Tuesday! Our set is at 11:30 at [insert name of venue here]! Can we put you on the guest list?”

Uh, no. My job requires the alarm to go off at 6 am Wednesday, so I have no interest staying out until after 1 to see your band. Same thing if you’re scheduled to play Sunday, Monday, Wednesday or even Thursday, for that matter. And I’m not alone. had this story yesterday.

In cities across Canada, local live music venues are struggling and in some cases closing.

Toronto is considering a proposal to extend the hours of liquor licensing as a possible solution, but Mar Sellars argues moving concerts to earlier time slots might have a bigger impact.

“The other week I had a +1 on the guest list for a show featuring Dude York from Seattle and Paws from Glasgow. The set times were listed as 11:30 pm and 12:30 am on a Wednesday night. Let me be clear. I was offering a free ticket, but I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. I even asked a 25-year-old friend who works at VICE, and she politely declined. She said it was too late for her. If it’s too late for a 25-year-old working in music media, no wonder music venues are struggling in cities like Toronto and Vancouver.”

I can’t agree more. The solution is not to push back last call. C’mon. Do you think serving until 3 on a Wednesday morning is going to bring in any extra revenue? The solution is to schedule shows earlier so there’s a greater chance of more people showing up.

Not all music fans live in condos and apartments close to downtown music venues. Others live further out, some in the suburbs, others in neighbouring cities. Sure, they may work downtown, but once they go home from the office at 5 or whatever, what are the chances of them coming back into the city that night knowing that they have to wake up at six the following morning? And who’s going to stick around for six hours after work so they can catch that 11:30 set?

And have pity on your servers, bar owners. Extending last call to 3 or 4 turns an evening shift into a night shift. And it’s not going to help revenues. Work with promoters and agents to start gigs earlier.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37438 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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