Live music champion THE HOUSE OF SONG to expand dining and dancing night outs
Night owls shaking off the day are flocking to dine, dance and sing along at the brand’s two central venues, its smaller The Piano Works and bigger sister Studio 88, a 12,000 square foot space for 400 with designer décor and state-of-the-art sound near Leicester Square which opened this year. Combined they welcome more than 7,000 visitors a week generating a £9 million turnover, proof amid the shutdowns that people do still want to party provided the experience is right. In The House of Song’s case it’s struck a chord with customers by offering an inventive menu of non-stop live music, based on audience requests passed to a six-piece band, accompanied by premium drinks and food.
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The concept is in tune with the times where experiences are now more popular than possessions, says Alan Lorrimer, a seasoned hospitality expert and majority owner of the group’s start up parent company TDC Concepts that he founded four years ago.
“Our chosen market, the 25 to 35 year olds, have the highest expendable income because these days they are deferring major life decisions and go out most often,” he explains.
“These are people who now meet partners online not in clubs as they used to. They go out in large groups just for a good time and do it every couple of weeks.
“Our average spend is between £35 and £40 a head. Eighty-five per of our customers book in advance and our offers show you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a big night out.
“Our target market does a lot of sharing, in life and on social media. They are discriminating about service, food and drink and seek entertainment.
“Live music is our key differentiator. Customers love the skill of our musicians, we employ more than 65 a week. Audiences hear the music they have chosen and engage with the bands, the experience is fully interactive.
The House of Song brings live music with a new twist back to London (Image: NC)Alan Lorrimer is a hospitality expert and majority owner of the group’s start up parent company (Image: NC)
This time I wanted to open a live music venue where no two nights are ever the same. Our average spend is between £35 and £40 a head. Eighty-five per of our customers book in advance and our offers show you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a big
“Having opened venues with more niche musical appeal, this time I wanted to open a live music venue where no two nights are ever the same. Our repertoire is eclectic and very varied. Staff have embraced the concept and have been easy to recruit. The challenge is keeping it consistent so it’s frictionless, with customers’ last experience as good as their next one.”
After starting with open mic nights, the value of the customer-curated playlist dawned and House of Song also goes on tour to play outside events such as Royal Ascot and Monte Carlo at Grand Prix time.
The decline of London’s nightlife, where 50 venues have shut since 2007, has also meant fewer stages and opportunities for musicians to play live. For Lorrimer that lack of live performance experience available now compared to that for previous generations “has had a detrimental effect,” he says and sees The House of Song as having a duty to counter that and nurture precious talent.
But that is only possible if the numbers stack up. Opening Studio 88 with higher fixed overheads and larger fit out has been the biggest step so far, “mitigated by seven extra hours of core trading,” adds Lorrimer.
The initial £850,000 investment for the business, which employs over 160 aside from the performers, came first from shareholders benefitting from entrepreneurs’ tax reliefs, and bank debt, now repaid. “For Studio 88 we used our own cash flow and bank debt, Santander has been excellent,” he says.
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Confident that the concept could play well in other cities, encores should soon be echoing around the UK with more openings in Liverpool, Glasgow and Leeds being considered.
“When our clubs are in full swing there’s a wonderful feeling of community and bonding as hundreds of people sing the chorus of their favourite song,” reflects Lorrimer. “We’re an entire night under one roof.”
NEW YEAR AND AFTER: For those who want to party away 2018, The House of Song has New Year’s Eve celebrations, complete with live music from the iconic house band from 5pm-2am and a DJ set from 2am-6am. For those wanting to make it an occasion, they can enjoy a three-course dinner and a glass of prosecco before the main event from £30. Full details at www.thehouseofsong.co.uk
For more good times in 2019 The Piano Works and Studio 88 are free to get in Monday to Thursday, and free before 8 pm at weekends. Happy Hour offers run throughout the week.