If I Ruled the World – How to run a pub….

I’ll start with pubs…and feel free to disagree with any of the following!..We all know that the state of the “british pub”, particularly the rural ones, is in freefall.They’ve been closing all around us for some years now. The reasons given are fairly obvious – the smoking ban [yes, it did seriously affect many people’s decision over whether to go out for the night], the availability of a huge range of much cheaper alcohol in shops, the growth of an insular culture where reality TV computers and iphones means less desire for face to face interactions.

Much of the above, however [with the possible exception of the smoking ban – although a large section of today’s young smoking folk have merely altered the ingredients!] applies to folks under 50 or 60….and the population is ageing. Old geezers like me are surviving much longer. Our parents would have been out of the game one way or another well before this. There is a large part of the population who looks to the pub as a pleasant socialising option – or at least they would if it wasnt for..

VERY LOUD MUSIC which is pretty obviously the favourite of the barista – and just as obviously hated by the the handful of ageing punters huddled over their pints and g and ts….That situation is incredibly common all over Scotland..as a “weekend awayer” when finances allow, to the exotic resorts of Fife, Pitlochry, Argyll, Edinburgh it is nearly impossible to find a quiet pub with subdued lighting, good beer – rather than the empty shiny metal horrors with ear bleeding techno or rap competing with a TV screen the size of  football pitch showing vacuous “celebrities” or failed politicians eating cockroaches in a jungle or grimly attempting some awful 1950s latin american dance routine in front of hundreds of baying hyenas.

Walking outside is a blessed relief. I remember the days when you had to be dragged out of a pub, they were such welcoming environments.

So..remember the bit above about an ageing but still healthy population?…They are what we call “a growing market”. The wild success of such as our local “all come in and join in on a musical instrument” night in one of our local pubs..the huge growth of ukulele clubs, slow session fiddle playing, the continued survival of folk clubs [against all the odds!] – all these are held in pubs with participants and audience in the 4o+ and often 60+ bracket. Pubs which would otherwise be empty – and these are pubs with no intrusive inappropriate piped music, gaming machines or TVs playing.

So..pub owners…rule number one – any music being played, live or recorded, should be for the patrons NOT THE STAFF! Rule number two -think about how to keep and attract your customers. Change is not always a good thing. Don’t rip out all the old wood fittings and tiles, they might be the main reason why people like your pub.Older customers may not drink expensive shots or 10 pints a night but they will keep coming back – WE ARE ALL LIVING MUCH LONGER.


On a related point of badly run pubs/venues – our band recently negotiated a gig in a small pub with no history of live music, in a local town. We are old hands, we dropped in on the place, talked to the owner sussed out the rooms, plug points etc…We sent him posters, put it on social media, all the usual. We played to one customer…there wasn’t a single poster up on the pub inside or out..they had done zero promoting. We got paid the agreed amount, the pub lost out. Their regulars didn’t know we were on, never mind any passers by. Its tempting to say “hell mend them!” but the fact is that sort of incompetence affects the performers too – it doesnt take a genius to put up a few posters [which have been provided to them!]……I actually don’t like taking money off venues/promoters when a gig doesn’t work out – but I do my job…why don’t they do theirs?