SYWTOABP 8: How much does it cost to have a stage in my pub?
I’ve been putting off doing this research for a long time, but also looked forward to it. It was actually really easy to get a quote for audio & video equipment. I went down to the big Long & McQuade store on Terminal Avenue where Jamie helped me out. Before we get to the list of equipment, the bigger problem in having live music at your establishment is neighbors, noise complaints, safety regulations, city bylaws, bureaucrats, promoters – even the artists themselves. So in addition to adding another page to your spreadsheet and $10-15,000, minimum, to your startup costs, a stage for live music represents additional leg work and headaches.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Constructing the actual stage from an accounting/business planning point of view, falls as a tenant improvement. So, those costs aren’t included in this post. Your stage needs to be the correct height, capable of supporting X kilograms, and a fair amount of potential pressure from the front and sides. You will be required to submit plans for approval and, in all likelihood, go through additional inspections.
Your stage should be large enough to fit a four-piece band (and probably a five-piece band – drum kit, bass guitar, two other guitars, and a singer/keyboardist), even if you plan to mainly feature smaller ensembles and solo acts. You also need to think about how musicians and their gear will get on stage, sight lines, and where the sound board will go. You’ll probably want to ensure ample wattage is available to the stage and the PA. This will require yet more work by your electrician. The equipment we priced includes a mixing board with 16 channels, along with some EQ and effects, which may appeal to certain musicians and gadget aficionados. Also included, were some fancy LED dimmer bars. These can be synched to music or programmed to play a pattern. Hopefully, they aren’t so fancy that they can’t simply be used as floods and spots. This may not be a necessary expense in the eyes of many, but for some shows and crowds, they may be utilized and appreciated.
All the equipment is new and the price is even valid for 30 days. But once again, you should consider the size of your venue and the space available for use as a stage, rather than rely 100% on numbers from a blog. Enough monitors and mics are included to do a songwriter round table. And with 16 channels on the board, you can rent more equipment for larger shows, even additional amplification or speakers.
- 8 x 25′ XLR to XLR mic cables
- 3 x handheld mics
- 3 x non-handheld mics
- 3 x standing tripods (adjustable)
- 3 x tripods with adjustable booms
- 2 x large active powered speakers
- 4 x wedge monitors
- 16-channel mixing board with 4-band equalizer
- 4 x 25′ male XLR – 1/4″ stereo cables
- 2 x LED dimmer bars
- Light controller
- Light stands/brackets
The grand total for all that, with taxes, is around $12,000. It is nice, new equipment – not the highest end available but quality brands. You still need to figure in additional costs for installations, especially running power everywhere that needs it. The mixing board will need a purposely-constructed booth, table, or shelf to house it.
One of the few things I insisted upon was running a Mac off the side of the mixing board. This gives you the ability to record quickly, easily and professionally. The Mac can also be used to play house music, hopefully from iCloud when it is finally released. I wouldn’t set up any audio mixing setup that didn’t include the ability to do digital recording and digital media playback. I’m older than I look, I have a record collection, but most music is digital nowadays, analog recording and playback is just less convenient. To that end I’d budget for an Mac Mini or iMac and allot space to it in your pub. That is potentially another $1,000+, less if you buy used.
Thanks again to the folks at Long & McQuade Vancouver. It was a nice change not to have to price everything out using the Internet.