David Garrick of the Houston Press argues that breweries are damaging Houston’s music scene irreparably. The real culprit that he points to is free shows. Basically, the argument that he makes is that free shows at bars, cafes, and breweries flood the market with music and makes it tough to run a music venue, as well as devalues the entire concert experience.
Austin is an example of this. He argues that Austin has gotten to the point where music is encroaching on experiences that may not even call for music, or situations where it’s more intrusive than pleasant.
Of course, many venues will point to the fact that much of their money is not made on gate receipts, but instead on alcohol. It seems that these free shows are the natural evolution of what the market would push towards. The problem with that is certain markets have set their market expectation in such a way that artists expect to get paid the way free events often pay them upfront as a loss to bring people in, as opposed to sharing in the revenues generated by shows. Non-traditional locations also often skimp on the sound experience because they don’t install professional, high quality sound systems.
Then again, there’s something to be said for the accessibility of music and for giving artists the opportunity to have a more secure paycheck. It also speaks to the state of the Houston music scene specifically if breweries feel confident enough in demand that they can put on these free shows to bring enough people to pay for alcohol to cover costs.
Maybe the solution isn’t to rail against brewery shows, but instead that Houston, and other cities with a similar problem, need more music venues.
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