Anna, thank you for your very forthcoming post, and for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Like many people on this forum (and those who aren't here but see SS regularly) I've been coming to Brownies since the band started there (actually, even before that; I saw Phish there, if you can believe that, when it was the 23 East Cabaret).
We love coming out to Brownies: The staff (polite, caring, fair), the sound (the best), the drink selection, even the prices (for the most part, though they do seem to have gone up during this Great Recession, an odd management choice, in my view.) Most of all, we love the loyalty Joe has shown over the last decade-plus.
I would only urge that you consider the following:
Like any other business that relies on paying customers showing up, things at Brownies ebb and flow based on any number of factors: the economy, the weather, who else is playing nearby, holidays, the academic calendar, illness, etc. 58 is clearly a low number, and 163 is a good number, and that was in the span of just a week. I have no way of knowing what (as EZ pointed out in his post) the numbers are year-over-year or month-over-month, but you seem to be saying that even on a night with more than 150 paying customers, not enough money was spent at the bar.
Thus, if the we view the problem in this context, even this relatively good turnout is not enough. Right?
So, how to fix? In other words, what's the number (dollar spent per patron) that makes it a good deal for you? I don't expect you to answer, and this is somewhat rhetorical, but it does lead to a few potential remedies.
1) Get a lot more people out.
If you're not happy with 163 people spending $12 each, then what do you need? 200 people? 300? That strikes me as a lot more people, based on where we are now, but perhaps you could tell us.
2) Raise prices
You could, naturally, raise prices even more, but that has diminishing returns, especially with a price sensitive crowd.
3) Make shows 18+.
I have no idea how difficult this would be (or even if it's legal in the township) but SS does have a decent following among the under 21 crowd.
. Most venues do this, or pay someone to do it, and it works. Is this what you're referring to when you say "We do, however, recognize that Thursday is the only night that relies solely on the band for attendance." Other bands have regular gigs at Brownies--do you mean that you do promotion for them, but not for Splintered? Are you saying Splintered is not doing enough of their own promotion? Just wondering.
I guess in making your decisions I would only urge that you consider the value of a steady stream of loyal customers over the longer haul--even if this means that on some weeks, the stream isn't flowing quite as fast. But I know that Splintered fans are very resourceful and will do what's necessary to keep the band in their home. Just let us know what we need to do, and what sorts of solutions are realistic.
PS: As an addendum, $12 at $3 per beer is 4 beers per patron. Though I'd love to think that we all have a designated driver set up for Thursday nights, we don't. I'm not certain how much we can expect people to drink in a three hour span and still arrive home safely. Just a thought
It's an obsession but it's pleasin' . . .