Small concert halls get relief from non-profit live music company


After months of closure and struggling to make ends meet, small music businesses will finally get the help they’ve been crying out for. Live Music Society, a new non-profit organization, has announced the launch of relief efforts for the industry.

Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The Society’s first phase involves securing monetary grants for 20 small venues across the country. For the first two years of operation, they promise to give $2 million in grants to the live music industry.

The Society’s relief program has a broader approach to ensuring that smaller venues will receive their help. Live Music Society grants will provide philanthropic assistance to music venues in operation for three or more years with a salable capacity of 250 occupants or less, with maximum individual one-year grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 .

In 14 states, early recipients of Society grants are known for their community involvement. Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs is a quaint place, with only 110 seats. This compact concert hall has hosted an array of artists over the years, including Bob Dylan. Other New York state locations receiving grants are The Bowery Electric in Manhattan and Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock.

Music is magical. It has tremendous power to connect people and create energy. There are small venues across the country that create moving experiences for their audiences, their staff, and for the local and touring musicians who play there. These clubs are a valuable and important part of our nation’s music ecosystem, and our goal is to help them continue to be great at what they do.

Founder and Chairman of the Board of Live Music Society Pete Muller

Muller is a singer-songwriter and a champion of music education. He helped save New York’s Power House studios with Boston’s Berkley College of Music and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

As the pandemic soared around the world, live music was abruptly halted, leaving thousands of industry workers jobless.

The National Independent Venue Association has lobbied for economic relief. They managed to get Congress to pass the Save Our Stages Act, which allowed the Small Business Association to provide grants and loans to venues, but that doesn’t extend until December of this year and there has limits.

During these difficult times, the company’s hope is to keep struggling venues from closing.

Our original goal was to support a small network of like-minded clubs across the country that could share best practices and learn from each other. But then the pandemic hit, and now we’re just trying to help those clubs stay afloat until they can reopen.

Executive Director Joyce Lim

Live Music Society will open the next round of applications for the 2021 cycle starting in early January. Application criteria include:

  • Venues with a salable capacity of 250 seats or less
  • Venues in operation for 3 years or more
  • Places that are dedicated to live music as their main activity

Here are the winners of the first phase:


(OCTOBER 2020)

The Hotel Café (Los Angeles, CA)

Dazzle Denver (Denver, Colorado)

Hi-Dive (Denver, Colorado)

SPACE (Evanston, Ill.)

The Jazz Showcase (Chicago, Illinois)

Club Passim (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Jonathan’s Ogunquit (Ogunquit, Maine)

Seven Steps Up (Spring Lake, Michigan)

The Word Barn (Exeter, NH)

The Bowery Electric (New York, NY)

Cafe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY)

Levon Helm Studios, Inc. (Woodstock, NY)

BOP STOP @ The Music Settlement (Cleveland, Ohio)

Mercury Lounge (Tulsa, Okla.)

The Kennett Flash (Kennett Square, PA)

Club Cafe (Pittsburgh, PA)

McGonigel’s Mucky Duck (Houston, TX)

Jammin Java (Vienna, Virginia)

Barboza (Seattle, Washington)

The Royal Hall (Seattle, Washington)


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