How to Find a Unique Venue for your Live Event

Learn the essentials on unearthing an extra special gig location…




Live music is very much back on the agenda in 2022 with gigs, events and festivals now all over the diary. 

With myriad different options available for promoters and artists when they host their shows, securing somewhere unique can be a great way of standing out. Tracking down an unused spot or somewhere unusual is part of an event's draw so it’s worth going the extra mile to find a special location. 

Here, we’ll explore how you can go about sourcing such a space and some of the different factors you might need to consider to ensure you can stage a successful event.

If you want to know more about how to run live events, then check out details of our new Live Event Management Programme.

Why would you want a unique venue? 

Working with a space that hasn’t been used before or is just really striking can be a key part of attracting an audience.

If you pick an interesting venue to host your event or gig, then this is an additional marketing point alongside the music and line-up." 

Artists and promoters shouldn’t be concerned about using somewhere unusual. There are plenty of brilliant spaces out there which are ready to be utilised for your needs.

In London, some venues include: 

Tamesis Dock 


Tamesis is a converted Dutch barge, permanently moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridge. Rather than being a touring vessel, this space is a neighbourhood bar, live music and events space.

With great views of the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and Battersea Power Station, Tamesis offers an amazing atmosphere in cosy and unusual surroundings.

Bastille, Carter USM, Allessi’s Ark and Local Natives are just some of the acts to have graced its stage. 

Visit for more. 

Wilton’s Music Hall


Located in East London, Wilton's Music Hall is a Grade II listed building with one of the most iconic stages in the capital.

It was initially built as a music hall but has since been developed as a multi-purpose arts space. Although it has been subject to ongoing restoration work, it's popular with performers due to the many original features it retains...  

Visit for more information.

Rosslyn Hill Chapel 


Many of ICMP’s Songwriters’ Circle events have been hosted in unusual spaces including the Rosslyn Hill Chapel in Hampstead Heath. Churches like this can offer amazing musical experiences in part due to the fantastic acoustics and unrivalled atmosphere. 

Some of our students have been lucky enough to hear our alumna, Daughter's Elena Tonra and Ben Earle from the Shires perform stripped-back versions of some of their biggest songs in this intimate setting as well play themselves.

Visit for more.

How to find a venue

Look around an area for potential venues, be it old pubs or community halls, rehearsal spaces, barges, old factories, sports clubs and more. Back this up with online research via social media or music forums. 

If you're the first to source a new space, then you will gain plenty of kudos but you should also ask among your community and networks too. The key is not to be afraid of asking the question of whether a space can be used for a gig or live music event. And you don't always need to find somewhere totally new to give an event a unique vibe. Using somewhere not usually associated with live performances can also be a great way of creating a buzz. If you do source somewhere, then meet those in charge and see if you can strike a rapport with them.

If this is something new for a venue's owners, then you might need to convince them that this is worth their while. You will need to impress them and present a fully-formed idea of the kind of event you want to do."

Ultimately, there should be opportunities out there for you to showcase your music in an unusual space - you just need to get busy, get out there and do your research.


How to arrange the right licences

It can be important to ensure you stay on the right side of the law when you’re staging a gig. This means you need to do your research into what you need to ensure your event is legally allowed to take place. If you don't, then you could potentially lose money, especially if your event gets shut down.

The Live Music Act 2012 and its 2015 extension means that many smaller venues can host live music without needing a licence. You can visit the Musicians' Union website to find out more about the different regulations in place.

Remember that live music venues still require a licence to serve alcohol. Venues can check if they need a licence through their local council. It is also possible to get a temporary music license.

You will also still require a music license from PRS PPL, which also covers the performance of live music. 

Visit the website for more details. Contact PRS PPL with any questions around your responsibilities as a promoter to them. 

Be flexible around the tech 

If you are utilising an unusual space, then try and be as flexible around what equipment you might need as you can. In some alternative spaces, there might be potential issues with acoustics, or even access to power for all your gear.

When choosing a spot for a show, factor this into your search and know what you will need access to in order for an event to go ahead. This should prepare you for any potential challenges or obstacles to your event. Before confirming a venue with the owners, ask them as many questions as you need to ascertain whether your gig can happen in their space.

We'd all love to go to see live performances in beautiful woodland spaces or in a community hall somewhere. But if the venue is really hard to get to or doesn't have enough power supplies, then this could create potential issues..." 


Keep safety in mind 

If you’re playing at an unconventional venue, you should check the site out and make sure it is safe for both performers and attendees. There will be different responsibilities upon you as an event organiser depending on the size and location. It's worth checking with Health and Safety England or the Musicians' Union about any questions you might have if you are using a venue not previously utilised for live music. 

Security can be a must if you’re hosting your event in an area out of the way. You might be taking money at the door or at a bar. And you'd also want to protect your gear in case of the worst happening.

How to keep your neighbours sweet

If you’re playing somewhere off the beaten track, then noise may not be an issue. But if you’re located near a residential part of town, then keep your neighbours onside. You may want to give them plenty of advance warning that you’re going to be playing music at a certain volume and make sure you stick to a particular curfew. 

Heading somewhere new and exciting when it comes to scheduling your own shows can bring you unique benefits, but also present challenges that you might never have to face in more standard venues. 

Do your homework and good luck out there…

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by Jim Ottewill
June 14, 2022
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