There is a world of work to be done at a venue before and after fans descend for a show. The person in charge of getting it done is the venue manager, who supervises the day-to-day operations of a club or concert hall. With administrative, logistical, and creative duties in both the front- and back-of-house, there's never a dull moment.
Venue managers hire, train, schedule, and supervise in-house staff such as ushers, bartenders, box office employees, maintenance personnel, and security. They also keep track of the safety and cleanliness of the facility, and ensure proper maintenance of in-house gear and equipment. Additionally, they may manage payroll for their employees.
Venue managers communicate and coordinate with performers before and after shows. Depending on the size of the venue and the acts coming through, they may work closely with the performer's agent, tour manager, sound engineer, lighting crew chief, and other touring team members. Venue managers also arrange hospitality for artists and their entourage.
Some venue managers—generally those at smaller clubs—book and promote shows themselves. At larger venues, though, that job is typically outsourced to talent buyers and concert promotion companies. Especially enterprising club managers come up with creative ways to fill their rooms, including scheduling theme nights, creating artist residencies, and planning other special events.
Venue Manager at a Glance
One of the most senior positions in the venue, venue managers typically begin their careers by performing one or more entry-level roles involved in the daily operation of a venue, such as usher, bartender, stage manager, or box office associate. It can also be useful to have knowledge of and prior experience in live sound engineering, lighting, or touring. Diversity of experience is vital, as the venue manager needs to understand every facet of running a venue in order to delegate tasks effectively and solve problems that arise.
Some venue managers come to this career from related fields, such as theater management, restaurant management, tour management, or event management. As this position is the top of the ladder, venue managers may advance by finding jobs at larger or more prestigious venues, by managing multiple venues (typically through a larger venue management organization), or by starting their own venue as a business owner.
Venue managers typically work for nightclubs, theaters, concert halls, amphitheaters, and larger venue management companies. They may find positions through business connections, job listings, or word-of-mouth, or be promoted internally.
- Personnel management
- Concert booking and promotion
- Written and verbal communication
- Contract negotiation
Because running a venue is predicated on building an effective team, the best managers have exceptional communication, leadership, and multitasking skills. Time management is critical: venue managers need to know how to delegate tasks well, work quickly and effectively, and keep multiple balls in the air.
The work life of a venue manager varies greatly based on factors such as management style, venue size, and staff structure. Some venue managers work fairly regular schedules, spending the majority of their time in the office making calls, building schedules, and handling paperwork. Others work in a more hands-on capacity, regularly supervising performances at night and on weekends. The majority land somewhere in the middle, with a mix of in-person supervision and daily administrative work making for an irregular schedule. And with the responsibility of responding quickly to problems resting on their shoulders, venue managers must be ready to work at any hour.