Cloud 9 Live bar is seeing more changes to its live music venue and restaurant business as COVID-19 restrictions tighten. Going out to live music events are becoming less desirable, so they plan to go virtual.
“We’re only open one day a week now, Saturdays from 2-10 p.m.,” said Les Fraser, owner of Cloud 9 Live. “We’re hoping to open up Fridays starting next Friday (Feb. 21).”
Before COVID-19, seating capacity was 187. In November, the restrictions limited the capacity to 60. Three months later, it’s down to 35.
“We sanitize before, during and after people are here,” said Fraser.
Everything from doors to tables are sanitized. Mask wearing is still a requirement unless seated.
“I need to keep my staff safe. I need to keep customers that do come, safe,” said Fraser. “We’re pretty strict on following the rules in here.”
By being open only once a week, revenue has gone down by 80-85 per cent.
“I know a lot of people in our situation aren’t even open,” said Fraser. “They’re closed until the restrictions are lifted.”
Fraser has enlisted the help of local musician Will Maeder to help Cloud 9 Live.
Maeder runs his own production company called the Burning Couch. He runs it alongside his friend and current Cloud 9 Live sound technician, Murray Sokoloski.
They plan on livestreaming their Saturday night jam sessions every week through the Burning Couch.
For the livestream, they had to invest in new equipment for the setup at Cloud 9 Live, which includes cameras and a digital board.
“I’m aiming for a high-calibre show,” said Maeder. “It’s going to sound like something you’d pay to watch.”
Maeder used to host bands from his house, but with tighter restrictions that no longer became possible. He hopes to bring that back through Cloud 9 Live.
They are going to test it over the next couple of weeks and are hoping to have it up and running by Feb. 20 starting at 10 p.m.
Costs to view the livestream will vary from $3-$25 depending on the show. They currently have a point-of-sale system in place for online payments, but that may change when they get started.
“We’re hoping, in three to four weeks, we will have some artists that we’re trying to get and livestream right out of the bar here,” said Fraser. “Ideally, it would work perfectly for us if we could get some touring artists, but nobody is touring.”
To Maeder, there are many positives that could come from this.
“I’m hoping to kill three birds with one stone here,” said Maeder.
It would provide a secondary income for him alongside his regular job as a letter carrier for Canada Post. He also hopes it could draw more people to his site.
Maeder hopes to help Fraser keep his bar open, with advertising and regular streaming able to help the venue gain interest from potential new customers and artists.
This service could provide a space for bands to play and share local and touring talent while providing them with a global audience.
“I really hope we can get it up and running and that it’s working good,” said Maeder. “We haven’t let anything stop us yet so we’re going keep moving forward.”