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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New CT booze laws can benefit bands

Originally published

Cape Town Pano - NightImage by Aquila via Flickr
From January 1, 2011, clubs and pubs not in residential areas must close bars by 02:00. For those in such areas, the cut-off is 23:00. Outrage and debate around the logic and effect of the Western Cape's new liquor laws will probably carry on, but I see at least one opportunity for live music - if the artists, venues and bands choose to embrace it.

If ever there were reason to shift performance times, it's the new Western Cape Liquor Bill.

Many of my friends and colleagues have long-lamented the late performance times of live music in Cape Town. It seems that most artists fail to recognise that a large block of potential market – that's 25 and ups – are not particularly enamoured with the idea of waiting till past 11 o clock for them to take to the stage.

Unfortunately, this trend has persisted in Cape Town and perhaps in SA for some years now, with the result that live music is heavily targeted toward a younger audience who tend to go hell-for-leather on the party front.

Great if you're 18, young, dumb and full of shooters. Not so great if you're 35, with a job to get to tomorrow, and potentially a family (or animals) back home.


Can shifting the performance block time by two hours possibly bring back that dead sector of the market? I think it's worth a shot.

It's no surprise that there's a dramatic drop-off in the live music demographic after 25 or so. I happen to be both a musician and potential customer of other musicians.  And I like to walk out of a show before midnight at the latest in both contexts. But getting me through a show by 11 will certainly buy my return business. And in the midweek, even earlier will get me feeling like I'm a regular patron again.

When I worked in the club scene, I was often privy to discussions on why midweek shows were tough to sell, and even weekend shows weren't guaranteed gimmes. Then, being at those shows, I was often on my way out the door before the first act started up.

As another colleague remarked recently: "You walk out of work at 5... what do you do six hours between that and the first band? If you go home and get settled, do you really want to get up and out again?"

Here's a tip: 10 o' clock for the first act is way too late for me – or people like me. Maybe some enterprising artists (it may not apply to everyone) should take the leap and try marketing new performance times of 8pm for a double bill, or 9pm for a single performance. I think there are potential benefits there.

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