Musical Bar Start-up
Gail Frankel of Secaucus, NJ. From first community recital on April 22, 2004.
Musical Bar Concept
New York, New York.
1. Executive Summary
The concept of this musical theatre, opera and pop vocals cocktail venue is supported by
numerous social, cultural, artistic and regional imperatives. Combined with the cocktail
beverages made with care, it is the accessibility of the artistry, the creative programs to
attract top free talent, the comprehensive website, the space and sound system and the
thoughtful and supportive approach to creating venue community that will make this
lounge successful and a permanent part of the NY landscape.
We believe that by developing a tight-knit community of remarkably talented and
attractive performers, we will subsequently attract very financially supportive and
community-minded patrons. This support will be tightly correlated to loyalty of both
target groups (singers and patrons), superior entertainment, lower marketing costs,
great tips for service employees (loyalty) etc. In fact, our projections reveal that the
bar will reach effective saturation of patrons after six months. This will lead to
profitability in month 4 and payback of investment capital in 3 years!
Musical Bar is committed to providing a supportive, dignified and stimulating
environment and format for developing singers, vocal coaches, and aficionados of
musical theatre, classical and stylistic pop styles.
Our format will provide 4 days a week of hosted open mic with professional piano
accompaniment, a superior sound system, superior web support and an ambience
that will revere the past and embrace the future.
"Musical Bar" will become an alternative accessible venue to appreciate these
musical styles in a city boasting the largest selection and availability of traditional
venues within Musical Theatre and Opera. It will serve our larger community
through powerful entertainment, stimulating personal interaction and
1.1. Keys to Success
The keys to success in Musical Bar business are:
Developing and maintaining positive supportive relationships with and
creating incentive for the young, talented singers around whom our strategy
Quality accessible performance and entertainment opportunities.
Involving the supporting patrons in the drama and struggle associated with
the vocal development process and the joy and heartbreak for performance.
Classic and innovative cocktails prepared with care and expedience. A larger
wine selection found outside of dedicated wine bars.
Musical Bar sells complex and simple (high quality) alcoholic cocktails, great wine and
beer in a joyous musical environment, featuring many of New York City's rising vocal
talents in the areas of music theatre, opera and vocal pop. In addition to a complete
line of alcoholic beverages, there will be: a short list of very healthy non-alcoholic
nutritional cocktails designed for singers (and others); espresso coffee drinks; simple
snack plates containing imported cheeses, salamis, Italian bread; t-shirts and CDs of
each night's performances.
More than offering drinks, antipasti, coffee and entertainment, Musical Bar provides
community. A cycle of performing, sharing, support, development and drama that is
not found in other venues. Singers will feel at home because this place will be designed
exactly for them. Other patrons will be entertained, not only by the individual
performances, but also by the human drama associated with performance and
development and the interaction with the singers. In the process, they themselves will
become a vital part of the excitement, rather than just being entertained!
Besides this, Musical bar website at www."musicalbar".com will become a community
landmark. There will be scores of valuable links, event calendar, personal focus pages,
live webcam feeds and hundreds of mp3 and video files to download. There will be a
subscription-based service that will allow subscribers the opportunity to gain full access
to audio library, video library, web cam feeds etc.
3. Market Analysis Summary
Our approach is positioned very carefully: offer superior non-compensated vocal
entertainment to the discriminating cocktail lounge patron, especially in the areas of
musical theatre, opera and pop vocals, where there is no suitable alternative (in an
environment worthy of the talent.) In addition to the raw entertainment value, this
approach offers entertainment based on drama and development, something other
musical venues do not. In addition, we offer a sense of community (making a
difference), something that is challenging to find in New York.
Our marketing strategy is based mainly on word-of-mouth after some initial seed
marketing and PR. The marketing has to convey our personal, supportive community-
oriented approach. Market focus needs to be placed initially to developing our base of
singer talent then to bar patrons.
Among the singer population, our target customer is rising young vocal talent -
musicians who are working on developing their singing voice. They have a strong
interest in musical theatre, opera or pop vocals. They would greatly appreciate a venue
that was built with their needs in mind. They would strongly appreciate our supportive
marketing programs, the superior sound system and physical layout, our web resources
and our supportive clientele.
Among the non-singing bar patron population, our target (profile) client appreciates fine
cocktails and/or wine and dramatic and/or classical vocal music, but will soon recognize
that our format offers far more than entertainment. They will chose to come often
because they will be moved, touched and inspired by the music, the community and the
chance to make a difference. If they are truly passionate about this music they will
recognize how rare it is to find this type of venue. They will loyally support it.
3.1. Target Market Segment Strategy
Our marketing strategy requires that we become a "hangout" for developing singers
in the areas of music theatre, opera and stylistic pop. With an average number of
visits/month set at 3 and with 4 nights a week devoted to our hosted open mic
format, this will require that we serve as "home" to 100 singers. Throughout this
strategy, we will refer to this as the primary objective and attracting customers,
assumed to follow, as secondary.
For the purposes of this strategy, we will define three basic types of focus customers
Singers - defined as a developing vocal musician, who is pursuing a full or
part-time career as a vocal performer. With an estimated capacity of 100 -
125, and an estimated nightly attendance of 200, the average number of performing
singers in attendance (15) will make up about 13% of attendance at any given time
and about 10% of nightly attendance. In addition, on any given night, there may be
an average of 5 singers who frequent the bar who elect not to sing.
Local Patrons - New York Metropolitan Area-based non singers who will
visit and support the establishment an average of 4 times per month. With
about 140 out of 200 nightly spaces estimated from this group, and an average of 4
visits/month, we need to count about 1,000 patrons in our community.
Tourists - visitors from outside the New York Metro Area. Estimate nightly
count of 40 patrons, with each patron visiting the bar an average of 1.3 times per
one-week visit to NY. Total target community is almost infinitesimally large
compared to the total number available each night.
3.2. Market Segmentation Detail
This is the only population from among our targets that we will need to penetrate to
any significant degree. Just how many developing and working singers are there in
the New York Metro area? This number would be very difficult to determine exactly,
but let's take a closer look and make some assumptions.
After an exhaustive search on the internet of teachers of singing and voice in the
NYC area, I found 125 from sources such as: National Association of Teachers of
Singing (NATS), The New York Singing Teachers Association (NYSTA),
Privatelessons.com, NY Vocalist.org. If we assume that through these searches, I
actually located 75% of the voice teachers in NY, this would put the number at 165.
Then, if we assume that each teacher would have 10 students on the average, this
would yield 1,650 students. From this population, I'll assume that 50% are older
than 21 (old enough to legally drink thus hang out in the bar.) That leaves 825
students actively developing their voices with private voice coaches.
To this number, let's explore two other populations. One is the population of
students in music schools who are 21 or older who where not counted as private
students of qualified voice coaches. The major music schools in New York are: The
Juilliard School, The Manhattan School of Music, Mannes (New School University),
NYU Steinhardt School, Columbia University, Queens College Aaron Copland School,
CCNY and more! From among these enrollments, the majority is undergraduate,
let's estimate that there are 300 students over 21 who are working on developing
their voices in university programs. From this group, let's assume that 150
students were not counted previously.
The last population is comprised of professional or semi-professional singers (or just
people who sing really well) who are not students at all. Within this group, there
are professional opera singers, scores of singers supporting Broadway and off-
Broadway productions, singers who come to New York for a finite period of time,
public school teachers, the voice coaches themselves etc. I'm just going to
underestimate this group at 300 singers, because it more than adequately proves
This totals 1,275 singers in the NY Metro Area, older than 21, who are actively
developing or have actively developed their voices. For the sake of conservatism,
I'll place one additional restriction on this number. Out of 1,275 singers, 1,000
are passionate about singing: Music Theatre, Opera and/or Sylistic Vocal
Pop styles. This is the number we will use in this document.
How to characterize this group in ways that are germane to this document? All are
absolutely passionate about what they are doing. It is very doubtful that anyone
would progress to this point in their development without lots of passion, drive and
support. They tend to be physically attractive in "world-of-acceptance" standards of
attractiveness (see sample photos in section 4.3.) In fact, many are very attractive.
They tend to be very sociable, as the art they are developing requires
communication and inspiration of audiences. They also tend towards ego-centrism.
In practical terms, they will be living scattered around New York, but concentrated
in artists communities: Greenwich Village/East Village/Upper West Side Manhattan,
Williamsburg/Greenpoint/Park Slope Brooklyn, Astoria Queens and Hoboken NJ etc.
Generally speaking, they will be living on the cheap, as artists. If they are in
development, they will need to pay between $50 and $200 per hour for voice
lessons. Indeed, their voice lesson bill will exceed their rent in many cases.
The Patrons - The supporting cast
It's difficult to characterize an entire (bar going) culture in terms that will make a
difference to a single cocktail bar. I'll begin by saying initially that the market is
practically infinite compared to the number that will be required to make this bar a
success. What is crucial will be attracting the most supportive, involved, engaging,
attractive and loyal clientele possible - a community with gradual turnover.
Consider a city like New York, such a diverse enormous metropolis, is at least an
order of magnitude larger than what would normally support the individual, personal
and private needs of a small community. The result is a sense of
isolation, distance, fear and longing. One need not travel very far in New York to
sense this on the faces of the people. Consequently, a small supportive community,
with shared interests, one that is stimulating, dynamic, offering hope, safety and
inspiration would be a fantastic antidote to the cold impersonal competitive world in
which we live.
Generally speaking, here is the profile of patrons that will make this concept bar
meet its financial and community objectives:
Interested in the arts and music
Discriminating regarding cocktail beverages and wine/beer
Age: 25 - 75, with many around 35 - 55
Generally speaking, winning in their lives
Mixed race, creed and sexual-orientation (this is very important!)
People who come willing to support as well as have a great time
Since alcoholic consumption is fairly ubiquitous in our society, and because this
concept bar offers far more than a decent cocktail, it seems more appropriate to
identify those characteristics that will make the bar an overwhelming success for its
unique concept than for generalized drinking or other social patterns that can be
satisfied in every neighborhood bar. Thus, without trying to sound too "new age",
we seek people who will add to the energy of the room just by their presence.
This will require more than breaking from conversation to applaud a singer. It will
require authentically being with the performance. Then, after successfully creating
this special community, we will have crafted an environment that will have the
power to transform.
3.3. Industry Analysis
For the sake of this discussion, I will define and analyze the NYC cocktail bars with
piano entertainment. This Musical Bar concept will be an extension of this form of
entertainment. It is understood that there are many other forms of musical cocktail
entertainment in NYC.
The first segment I will explore will be the piano bar, specifically those piano bars
that host live vocal entertainment.
Is there room for another piano/cabaret venue in NYC?
When you consider that each of these venues seats about 50-75 people, against the
backdrop of a city like NYC for its size and focus, one may conclude that the scene is
already saturated. Take a closer look and find that there are considerable gaps in
Gap number 1: the piano bars, for the most part, don't take themselves seriously.
They do serve a valuable niche, but it's not to dazzle. It's not to showcase rising
Gap number 2: the cabaret venues provide some great entertainment, but the
format is stale and expensive. With 14+ Cabaret venues, in a city focused on this
type of entertainment, you can bet that there are some very talented and
entertaining performers to be found. Here too, they serve an important niche.
These are decent stages and they attract rising talent with a calling to perform.
They can even provide a decent income to the better ones. What they do not
accomplish is to invite guests for the whole evening. If you are invited to attend a
show and do so from 8 - 9 pm, that leaves most people heading for a new
destination at 9:15, after having just spent $20 - 30 on that one. This is
prohibitively expensive for much of the singer/artist population (to do on any
The tight physical layout of these rooms, combined with the format I've just
mentioned, keeps people glued to their seats. Not bad when you need a captive
audience (not bad at all.) Just missing something … freedom!
Gap number 3: musical genre. There is definitely a market for fine musical
theatre-style / opera music. These venues don't offer it in the proportion and
quality of which it can be appreciated.
Gap Number 4: expense. Although already mentioned, serious developing artists
don't have a lot of cash. The current lineup of establishments are either expensive
(cabaret acts with drink mins., night clubs) or not serious enough (piano bars.) A
venue that recognizes this and incorporates it into its business model will benefit
from the abundance of talent in NY.
Gap number 5: sexual orientation bias. A number of the clubs are listed as "gay &
lesbian" in the online guides. Indeed, it's no secret that gay men tend to appreciate
musical theatre more than straight guys. When you consider that the homosexual
portion of the population is about 10%, any business traditionally thought of as gay-
themed, ought to think carefully about the ramifications of that. Better yet, devise
a strategy to appeal to a totally mixed crowd. I am a testament to how, when a
typically gay-themed event is spun for the masses, what an impact it can have to a
non-traditional customer. A business in this sector that recognizes this will yield big
3.4. Competition and Buying Patterns
If you describe the market as cocktails purchased and cover charges paid during
evening music venues, featuring live vocalists, including all items 1 - 5 below, there
is no other venue like this in metro New York City (but is there a market?) For each
element that is removed, there would be more choices available to the public, to the
point that almost every neighborhood bar would be a competitor.
Essential elements of Musical Bar 's product/service:
Element Number Competition
Expertly prepared < 300 too numerous
cocktails: using 1800s
standards combined with
Fine wine and beer ~150 too numerous
Live musical theatre, ~24 see section
opera, stylistic 4.4
pop vocalists with single
piano accompaniment and
superior sound system
Open hosted format ~0 - 2 Duplex,
featuring about 120 rising Danny's
A whole community 0 Opportunity!?
experience + website
As you can see, each level up (on pyramid) limits the competition further and
further. Just another cocktail lounge would have hundreds of competitors and rely
mostly on location, trendiness and the “four Ps” for success. As you progress up to
the level of #3, there are perhaps a 12 - 18 venues that satisfy this niche (see
section 4.4.) Progress even further to #4 (hosted open mic), while there really is
none, I'll be conservative and say that there are two: Danny's Skylight Room and
The Duplex. At least these venues are actively recruiting new singers. The Duplex
has an active open mic, but it's not really hosted. None of these locales is venturing
to create community between the singers and patrons and amongst singers.
In a city the size of New York, with it's emphasis on Music Theatre, Opera and music
in general, having only two moderately close competitors to me already suggests a
compelling opportunity. Crafting a true community is ingenious and creates an
establishment that enriches lives, careers and communities. This will ensure not
only success for Musical Bar(!), but will create a pillar of New York social and
cultural life! This would be especially important and well-received post 9/11 lower
The skeptics among you will question whether or not this format has value. I beg
your patience as I prove that it does.
3.5. Market Needs
As a result of the intense rigors of their study (or work) and the uncertainty of their
futures, they seek support and encouragement (like us all.) The chance to do that
while practicing, networking, experimenting with new material AND the chance
to earn some serious money AND the chance to get "discovered" will have
Maybe, above all, singers have the need to perform. The opportunity to do that on
4 or 5 nights a week, without needing to plan well in advance, without dealing with
cabaret owners and promoters will put this bar on everyone's radar scope. The
chance to perform in an acoustically sound, dynamically responsive, supportive
(with integrity), attractive and very fun environment will make it a legend! A New
York landmark establishment that will be around for decades, not just
another piano bar!
The Patrons - The supporting cast
Everyone wants to make a difference. Here will be an opportunity to make a
difference locally with potentially global implications! Hey, maybe the clientele just
wants a drink and to forget about a rough day at the office? No problem, we'll serve
them a drink. But unless we can distinguish what else they need, then this will be
nothing more than a fun piano bar, cabaret venue or trendy bar to them. I suggest
that people are looking for more than this, not having found it is why so many piano
bars, cabarets and trendy bars fail.
One thing people are looking for is drama. This is easy to understand given the
central musical themes of this concept bar will be musical theatre and opera.
Theatre and opera supporters love drama and performance. But besides its obvious
link to these artistic and cultural genres, Musical Bar will provide another sort of
drama. The drama associated with development, risk and award!
Take a look at American Idol. It has become a cultural phenomenon. For that
matter, consider any reality-based TV programming. Why has it become so
popular? One reason is drama. On American Idol, they very successfully get the
viewer involved with the performers, stretching out the drama for all it's worth! In
fact, with the format's reliance on audience participation, it's almost like the creation
of community. Surely, it's success is way out of proportion to the raw talent of its
performers. Viewership of American Idol clearly outperforms any established
musical act appearing on television.
There is another factor. I'll call it authenticity or integrity. Again from American
Idol ... why has William Hung become a cultural icon? (check out
http://www.williamhung.net/ , 800 hits on a Google search! BTW "the Beatles"
google search yielded 1,000) I'd strongly contest that it isn't his singing ability, nor
his dancing ability, nor his good looks - any of the things normally associated with
success as an entertainer. It was his authenticity, vulnerability and maturity.
In fact, these traits transcended the shenanigans normally prized on that show.
Almost immediately, he became a household name. Now he schedules appearances
on The Tonight Show and NBC's Today Show! It's really quite refreshing ...
someone willing to go for his dream on national television, a dream outside of his
grasp perhaps, and stand up to ridicule with integrity, respect and authenticity. The
world has swallowed it whole! New York will too!
Thus, the patron base for Musical Bar will be a microcosm of the world in a similar
way viewership is to American Idol. Indeed, give the patrons good - even -
excellent singers who come ready to pour their hearts out over a couple of songs,
surrendering themselves to the experience, willing to be seen and known, and then
throw in a little bit of drama, and you will have a captive audience. In a place like
New York, anonymity is common and it takes its toll on the population. Patrons
will eventually come for the same reasons as the singers (community, making a
difference, drama, authenticity.) In fact, many will be so inspired, they will consider
pursuing their own voice development path. This will provide the greatest individual
drama of all - the inspiration of new voices!
3.6. Market Trends
Some significant trends to consider:
Popularity of karaoke.
Since its arrival on US shores from Japan in the 80s, karaoke has blossomed as a
multi billion dollar a year industry (exact number cannot be accurately accounted
since karaoke is usually performed in a bar and bar revenue is usually not
counted.) It has also become more sophisticated. Serious karaoke singers bring
their own disks, have their own mics etc. Many have home-based karaoke
machines in order to practice or even host private parties. Although karaoke has
definitely tapered off in Japan, it is alive and well in the USA. One distinction
between the typical Japanese karaoke and the American version is venue. American
venues are almost always open, either large or intimate, but almost always open
allowing interaction between the performer and crowd. Japanese karaoke is almost
always a private affair with groups of friends renting a private room. If the
Japanese karaoke is in an open room, the singers usually sit at a private table
(preventing to be seen.) You don't even know who is singing many times.
My assertion is that, with all of these karaoke singers progressing to a point where
karaoke cannot satisfy their creative development, something will need to be in its
place. I assert that Musical Bar format would be a great place for them to go. In
fact, we will even have an evening of karaoke w/o screens (Cabaroke!) to help ease
the transition to full performance.
Enormous popularity of reality-based talent TV programming.
I've already discussed this in great detail. I'll only mention it here and add that the
winners of American Idol and Star Search are riding their popularity into successful
singing careers. One can conclude that the formula of American Idol appears to be
working. The essential elements are: talent, image, drama, participation and
Popularity of holistic, spiritually-enriching practices
It is my assertion that the motivations to engage in self-actualizing and community-
oriented practices, such as yoga and certain volunteerism are highly correlated with
personal needs and truth-seeking behavior than can be satisfied by Musical Bar. I
mention this not only because the community-oriented approach will provide
connection and involvement in an otherwise fractionated, disenfranchised society,
but because the music itself it therapeutic. The themes, lyrics and depth of
expression of these types of music beg personal involvement on the part of the
Fallout of 9-11 on lower Manhattan
Sad how 9-11 has affected lower Manhattan, although with its size and intensity,
the changes may not be noticeable to the untrained eye. The fact that lower
Manhattan remains the creative nucleus of the NYC metropolitan area cannot be
denied. But, programs and initiatives remain in force to help revitalize it to ensure
its place as our American center of finance, creativity and cultural life. The effect of
these programs should make it easier to start a highly creative social/cultural
community-oriented business in this area. The degree to which business and traffic
has slowed is less important than the degree to which lower Manhattan springs back
New York City Cocktail Bar
There is a trend towards specialization. Indeed, this is truly one of the beauties of
New York City. With a city this large, who needs a grand megalopolis of same old ...
anything? Indeed, there certainly is room for the cozy neighborhood bar or even
the swank upscale (but common) cocktail bar. A recent article in Time Out New
York Magazine highlighted New York's best bars. The take home message is that
New York bars have been evolving towards specialization and sophistication. There
are bars that specialize in Gin, Vodka, Scotch etc. There is even a bar in midtown
called “Hole in One” that caters to Japanese businessmen where they charge from
$14.50 to $780 for a shot of Scotch... and they even charge a cover at times!
With all of this showcasing of the best the world has to offer in various
subspecialties, the NYC bar music scene has remained in a similar state for at least
30+ years. The emphases are placed on exclusivity, retro-feeling martini bars and
cabarets, dingy rock and roll places, jazz clubs etc. Not a bad choice, but nothing
new. In a city that has the largest musical theatre emphasis (enough to almost
rename musical theatre - "Broadway music"), surely one of the most vibrant Opera
communities and enough Pop musicians and recording studios to rival London and
Los Angeles, it is quite remarkable that not much new has occurred in the area of
live entertainment over the years.
New York's Smoking Ban
Although not a trend per se, New York City's decision to ban smoking in public
spaces makes this plan possible. It would be highly unlikely that the numbers of
singers required for this plan would have been achieved w/o the smoking ban.
Alternatives would have included a voluntary ban, but that would be extremely
frustrating to enforce. Another alternative would be an environmental filtration
system, but that would be only partially effective and expensive. Thank you Mayor
3.7. Market Growth
Source: Nephew, T.M.; Williams, G.D.; Yi, H.; Hoy, A.K.; Stinson, F.S.; and Dufour, M.C. Surveillance Report #62:
Apparent Per Capita Alcohol Consumption: National, State, and Regional Trends, 1977–2000. Bethesda, MD: NIAAA,
Division of Biometry and Epidemiology, Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, August 2003.
Source: Nephew, T.M.; Williams, G.D.; Yi, H.; Hoy, A.K.; Stinson, F.S.; and Dufour, M.C.
Surveillance Report #62: Apparent Per Capita Alcohol Consumption: National, State, and
Regional Trends, 1977–2000. Bethesda, MD: NIAAA, Division of Biometry and
Epidemiology, Alcohol Epidemiologic Data System, August 2003.
When examined together, these two recent charts indicate that alcohol consumption
is at a relatively high level. The first chart (with fine granularity) could be
interpreted such that consumption is significantly off from 1977, but a closer
inspection using the second chart reveals that 1980 is a high water mark for alcohol
consumption in the USA. In recent years (1996 - present) consumption has
stabilized and is increasing.
There is no coincidence between the founding of M.A.D.D. in 1980, and the
downward trend in alcohol consumption seen between 1980 and 1996. Positive
activism and lobbying has resulted greater awareness, tougher legislation and
greater enforcement. I support these efforts. One of the positive attributes of an
urban center like New York, with its extensive 24 hr public transportation system
and population density, is that people can go out and enjoy themselves and not
need to worry about driving home. I'm sure that these figures would be shifted up
somewhat (in the local market) taking into account the freedom from driving.
These charts are important support for a venture in this market. Consumers in this
sector, especially in a city as diverse and transient as New York City, are very fluid.
Drinks pour and consumers consume. What is important is creating an environment
that is considered unique, dynamic, entertaining and supportive. Salute!
4. SWOT Analysis Summary
We are on the brink of a major opportunity! Richard (I) is the creator and central
figure of a vibrant vocal community in NYC called Voices. The fact that I was able to
reach a critical mass in two months, with no previous contacts, with no financial
incentives and from San Diego, suggests strongly that this venue is lacking in the NY
music scene and would be heartily adopted by the vocal community. Please listen to
the demo recording of the actual inaugural recital.
I have the vision very clearly defined and have particular strength and expertise in
launching new initiatives and in creating community. This clearly would be a "star"
grade opportunity. The major risk would be that the format can be copied by any
cabaret in town, but these locales would not be as well suited physically and almost
certainly won't have the skills in creating community. See that they are participating in
a 40-50 year legacy with little change, to me indicates that they will not move quickly.
In all of this, I'll say again, that this plan is not intended to compete directly with any
existing cabaret or piano bar. The available pool of patrons and talent is so large, and
this offer so specific, this business need only attract a percentage of patrons and singers
away from existing establishments.
Musical Bar has been created by Richard Stanton, a highly skilled and creative
marketer, bartender, singer and community builder. In corporate marketing, he has
developed several new markets successfully. In the arts and cultural community, he
founded an Italian social / cultural organization in San Francisco called Italia Oggi
(Italy today) which grew to 120 members, hosted some amazing parties and helped
spread Italian culture in the SF Bay Area. Earlier in his career, he successfully
completed a rigorous advanced nuclear engineering submarine officer program in
the US Navy without any prior engineering coursework.
He has built this plan around his greatest passions in life: vocal performance, music,
community, transformation and excellent drink (food.) He is the founding member
and leader of the Voices Community, a 200-person (and rapidly growing) New
York community hosting monthly recitals/concerts. Early success of Musical Bar will
depend on his ability to enroll the New York vocal community in the possibilities of
this plan. This is already well underway.
The only weakness is seen in Mr. Stanton's experience profile. Not having run a
small business, not having much experience in the retail restaurant/bar industry and
not having done business in New York make this a borderline epic challenge. He has
taken on even greater challenges successfully in the past, however (see resume'.)
There is an enormous wealth of developing vocal talent in New York City. Singers,
after experiencing a certain level of success at home, decide to move to New York
advance their artistry and to (hopefully) make it in musical theatre, opera, stylistic
pop, jazz etc. Many times they have enough funds to last a finite period of time.
"I'll give it 6 months" is frequent proclamation. In addition, New York City is home
to a very large native population working towards same dream. Singers in these
areas are craving creative outlets, many of whom are quite talented (and
extraordinarily attractive! see section 4.3)
One of the very pillars of New York's social and cultural life is "Broadway" musical
theatre. It's tone, attitude and themes are iconic of New York itself. Indeed, visitors
arrive every day from all over the world to see Broadway musicals and off-Broadway
performances. They are willing to pay $35 - $120 dollars or more for an evening
(2-3 hours) of entertainment. Similar things can be said about opera or pop vocals.
Although less iconic of New York, these forms are highly appreciated and very
advanced in New York. New Yorkers are highly supportive of all these
Let's shift gears slightly to observe another cultural phenomenon. In the last 3
years, American Idol has risen to be one of the most successful popular TV
programs - in the world! Recent US ratings topped out at 32 million viewers per
episode! Note: during the week of April 26th to May 2nd, Idol is still very strong,
with about 15MM viewers per episode (number 3 for week!) In fact, the American
Idol website is the second most visited site in the entertainment sector of the
internet during March 2004! Many of the performers are not, I repeat not, as
talented nor entertaining as the developing talent pool in New York City. What FOX
has done very successfully is to create community among all the various
players: the singers, the supportive families and the TV audiences. AND
they have got the viewing audience heavily involved with the drama of
competition and participating in the outcome. In fact, I assert that it's these
two elements (community + involvement) plus the intrinsic nature of the American
Idol format, which create drama, that have created the success and guarantee much
larger audiences that would be rewarded to established performance (even more
Now, getting to the point, is the convergence of these influences. We arrive at
Musical Bar! A surplus of developing talent in search of a suitable supportive venue,
a supportive native and tourist public ready and willing to support these performers
through attendance and encouragement and a creative approach the resembles the
methods used in American Idol and ... Pow, you have a huge opportunity! The
genesis of a new community business! There is no NY venue that is serving the full
dimensional needs of this market.
The only major threat is through competition. Please note: the real competition
is for talented singers and not bar patrons. Since the capacity of Musical
Bar will be about 100, this number is almost infinitesimally small compared to the
population of bar-going patrons in New York (both local and tourist.) It is assumed
that, with the right promotion, the bar can always be filled. The challenge is filling it
with the right 100 people in order to create community (and decent bar tabs.) This
will require the participation of approximately 100 talented singers in order to keep
it fresh and stimulating.
Right now, there are only two venues in New York that have anything close to the
propositions described in this plan: Harry's Starlight Room (midtown) and The
Duplex (Village.) Neither is a primary competitor for the following reasons:
Harry's is a very nice and elegant space and has staked a claim in the NY music
scene in music theatre and A-list cabaret (is located in the theatre district.) The
reason it is not a primary threat is two-fold. Firstly, its location near theatre row,
although wonderful for tourists, is not ideal for singers and other patrons. This area
of Manhattan is busy and stressful, great if your hotel room is one block away and
great if you are just getting out of a show and ready to walk for a cocktail, but
tough for an artist living in Williamsburg, Greenwich Village or Hoboken to reach and
return home at 2 am. Harry's also showcases single acts and charges admission.
All great, but it doesn't foster community.
The Duplex, with its outstanding location, advertises an open mic forum that caters
in part to music theatre seven nights a week! In practice, although they do have
some great talented people hanging out there, the evenings are much like other
open mics in that they are not well organized and don't foster community. They
also turn into piano bar shows and feature employee bartenders who also entertain.
It's a lot of fun, I suggest checking it out, but it's a different format. Then, although
the Duplex Cabaret Theatre is a pretty nice space (our Musical Bar recitals were
born there), it utilized only for individual shows. The Duplex's main bars are just a
notch above divey and would not attract and maintain serious talent. They are
small too, maybe 35 total capacity.
So the real threat will be through imitation + some really big money may come in
and copy this plan. It's a threat and therefore discussed here. Important to note
that New York could probably maintain about 6 bars with propositions similar to this
one, geographically placed and there would be plenty for all. Since this would be
the first of its kind, the threat is considered relatively minor.
4.5. Critical Issues
As we examine the SWOT, I conclude that the Musical Bar concept is high on major
opportunity and medium in specific threats. This would place the business
somewhere between "Ideal" and "Speculative." Since the space that is being
planned would be better suited to this form of music than anything that currently
exists, combined with a sincere motivation to serve and develop this community, I
conclude that it is not very likely that someone else will inspire nor develop the
community better than this proposition. This places this niche marketing strategy
closer to Ideal.
There is one critical issue worthy of introduction here. It will be discussed in more
detail in the strategies section. That issue relates to the drinking patterns of
developing singers. Plainly stated, most serious voice students don't drink much or
any alcohol. Since cocktail beverages will be the most profitable product offered for
sale, this is an issue that will need to be recognized and managed.
5. Strategy and Implementation Summary
This is a classic "gold rush" picks and shovels marketing plan. You know, very few
people struck it rich in 1849 -1860 California, but many people became rich selling
the implements of gold digging. Even better news is that the plan is recession-proof
and fad-proof. Young singers have been flocking to Broadway and Theatre for a
hundred years and to the Opera for many more! People will always come to see
them perform and to experience the drama. As long as a plan can be created to
attract them, there will be a lucrative market for the cocktails and light fare that will
keep the patrons in their seats, enjoying the show.
5.1. Competitive Edge
See section 5.3.
5.2. Marketing Strategy
Our marketing strategy requires that we become a "hangout" for developing singers
in the areas of music theatre, opera and stylistic pop. With an average number of
visits/month set at 3 and with 5 nights a week devoted to our hosted open mic
(HOM) format, this will require that we serve as "home" to about 150 singers.
Throughout this strategy, we will refer to this as the primary objective and
attracting non-singing patrons, assumed to follow, as secondary.
For the purposes of this strategy, we will define three basic types of customers or
Singers - defined as a developing vocal musician, who is pursuing a full or
part-time career as a vocal performer.
Local Patrons - New York Metropolitan Area-based non-singers who will visit
and support the establishment an average of 4 times per month.
Tourists - visitors from outside the New York Metro Area.
Win Over Singers
As previously mentioned, the most important part of this plan is to entice enough
NYC-based developing vocal talent to consider Musical Bar as their place, their
community. Once this occurs in sufficient numbers, a critical mass will be reached
and Musical Bar will operate 4 shows a week with a hosted open mic (HOM) format
(plus Cabaroke of a total of 5.)
This will be accomplished by creating an environment that is supportive, stimulating,
vibrant, fair and entertaining. Incentives, such as a comprehensive website with
singer personal pages, free email, live webcam feeds, community news is one class
of incentive. The sound system, piano and layout of the bar will be another. The
layout will be square with a slightly sunken stage area and an elevated stage. This
will allow singers to make eye contact with the majority of the bar (while
maintaining good posture.) Overall, it will appear to be a hybrid between a cocktail
bar and a theatre. The sound system has been carefully chosen for these types of
Financial incentives will also be included. A plan will be developed to encourage
singers to attend a minimum number of times per month to remain in competition
for scholarship money for voice lessons or leadership and self expression training
given by Landmark Education, and free admission. Factors for selection will be
linked to performance and relationship to the audience as well (good community
Shows will be open mic, but hosted in such a manner to keep it lively, personal,
heartfelt and entertaining. MCs will ultimately be chosen from among the
community and compensation will be minimal. Of course, the piano accompaniment
will be top-notch, well compensated and reflective of the style and caliber of the
Lastly, Musical Bar must attract supportive bar patrons who will respect them and
be part of a vital community. This discussion will dovetail with the strategy to win
over clientele, but from the singers’ perspective, what will work best would be:
Supportive respectful artisitic patrons who love the music they perform. There
should be a mix of NY arts community patrons and tourists, with a strong emphasis
on locals. Efforts should be made to invite influential industry and theatre types to
keep the promise of being "discovered" here alive. All-in-all a vital community, free
and openly expressive!
Win Over Clientele
As I mentioned before, when we are successful in achieving strategy #1, strategy
#2 will follow: directly and indirectly. That is, the singers will naturally tell their
friends and they will accompany them. Then, by word-of-mouth people will stop
by. The challenge will then become to encourage the best people to visit the bar
frequently. You know the old expression ... "that place is too crowded, nobody goes
there anymore!" Who was it who said that? Yogi Berra?
So the challenge will be to attract mostly (~ 70%) NYC art and music crowd who
know the value of community and are willing to visit 3-4 times a month. They will
enrich the establishment and be positive community members. Don't underestimate
the value of a familiar face in the crowd when you are singing to them! We will start
with networking through NYC voice teachers (well underway) and then through
other music and arts organizations. Emphasis will be placed on music theatre,
opera and pop vocals groups and universities.
Then, to attract a minority ( ~20%) of tourists because they will gleam with
approval, but they will not be true community members. There is nothing like "the
first time, however!" They will tend to be very fluid with their verbal appreciation.
We will find them easily with Playbill advertising, back-of-ticket promotion and
For developing dramatic, classical and stylistic pop vocalists who need a full-time
supportive venue to practice, express and network, Musical Bar is an upscale yet
lively and stimulating musical venue perfectly designed and developed to motivate
and encourage developing vocal artists. Unlike other piano bars and musical venues
(cabarets), Musical Bar stands to promote, encourage and develop the careers of
performing artists in music theatre, opera and stylistic pop.
For lovers of dramatic, classical and stylistic pop music and supporters of musical
arts who want to experience and support artistic development, Musical Bar is a
relaxed yet stimulating and lively musical venue providing near-world class
entertainment and creative cocktails, fine wine and beer. Unlike other piano bars,
musical venues and Broadway Theatre/Opera performances, Musical Bar offers the
chance to develop community with the performing artists and experience the drama
associated with artistic development.