March 7, 2019

The Death of Live Music

By Rob Friedman, River Street Jazz Cafe owner

Have you ever wondered why there are so few live music venues in our area? There’s a very simple answer; it’s almost impossible to make money owning a live music venue unless you’re a huge venue like Mohegan Sun Arena or F.M. Kirby Center.

Luzerne County used to have multiple live music venues; however, most have been forced to close their doors over the last 10 years. Sure, there are corner bars that on occasion will bring in a duo or jam a band into the corner of the room. But these are not live music clubs!

The River Street Jazz Cafe in Wilkes-Barre was built and designed specifically to support live music in our area. After celebrating 25 years in business, the Jazz Cafe has the distinction of being the longest running live music venue by far in our area.

So why is it so difficult to be successful with a live music venue? Well, think about it. Basically, you have two nights a week, Friday and Saturday, to bring in a crowd. What’s even harder is that the peak hours are generally from 10 PM to 12:30 AM. So, you’ll walk into the Jazz Club and see a crowd on a weekend — but remember, the club basically has 5 hours a week to take in the majority of its income (2 1/2 hours on Friday and Saturday). A real live music club will also have to supply an excellent sound system and lighting system, along with paying and feeding the musicians.

See where am I going? The numbers don’t add up. Expenses just can’t keep up with the limited income. So support live music and appreciate the amazing local and national touring artists that perform at the River Street Jazz Cafe. There’s nothing better than quality live music!

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