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Friday, March 25, 2011

A plea to the venues

I've visited a massive number of venue websites since the beginning of the Echoreyn of Athens blog. As our regular readers know, every month we put out a Kristen's Concert Picks entry - a list, complete with descriptions, of exciting upcoming shows in Athens, handpicked for the sheer awesomeness of the bands that are playing them. Basically, if my friends and I have seen and loved a band live, we're sure to feature their shows here so that more fans of the scene can get a delicious taste of their tunes. And while checking out the websites, Facebook pages, and, yes, even the MySpace pages of some of our favorite local bands helps us to discover a few of these shows, most of the time the venue websites are our best friends in this matter.

So here's my plea, my call to action, if you will:
Venues, please make your websites cater to the fans!

After all, the whole point of establishing a venue is to create a space where fans can come and listen to their favorite tunes. If there are no fans in attendance (and trust me, I've been to a few of those shows before), then what's the point having the band rock your stage? And, let's be honest here, an empty venue does no favors for the bank account either.

See I've been on a bit of a website-building spree lately, and as such, I've found myself taking a critical eye towards the sites I come across. The venues that serve their fans best are those that post the key feature, the event calendar, right on the main page of the website for all to see.

Proving that a site need not be complicated to be the perfect venue space, the Caledonia Lounge tops the list of Athens venues with sites made for the fans. A single page (yes, just one) provides seekers and makers of rockin' tunes with all they need to find the place, book a show, and discover when their favorite bands are taking the stage. Everything you need to know in one glance... Now, that's awesome! Right up there with the Caledonia's site is 40 Watt's professional site. Their main page features three whole calendars of delectable music with upcoming big name shows listed in a simple breakdown up top and in more detail towards the bottom as well as a weekly show calendar to the side.
But, being one of Athens biggest and most famous venues, there's no way they would just stop there! They've also got a schedule tab which describes each show in great detail among other tabs that provide all sorts of useful information from directions to booking to even the rather fascinating history of how the club came to be. That is one solid website! Other examples of great venue sites built with the fans in mind include WUOG 90.5's site featuring shows for Live in the Lobby, New Earth Music Hall's site, and Nu├ži's Space's site.

But what about the smaller venues, those that don't require a full site to keep their fans in the know? Well, Facebook is here to save the day! A well-maintained Facebook page can serve as a venue website too, provided that those who manage the venue's page include all location and contact info and update it regularly with event pages created for every show - a makeshift calendar of sorts. Best of all, Facebook is search engine optimized to be a top result whenever a fan searches for your venue which means that they'll easily find your page when they're dying to know exactly who's rockin' your stage next.

Now, once again, I've got to put in a short word against using MySpace as a website. I've noticed that venues that subsist solely on their MySpace pages tend to forget to update them regularly. Even worse, the site's new layout makes it difficult for fans to see the events listed anyway. At this point and time, I encourage venues to move beyond this site when establishing their web presence.

So, to sum it all up, is a quality website or a regularly updated Facebook page a must-have for venues? YES! In this day and age, nearly every fan who dreams of seeing their favorite band, whether it be a famous touring rock group or a fresh new indie singer/songwriter, will check the Internet first before heading downtown to catch a show. Venues, give these fans what they need: a chance to rock out to the tunes you provide!

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