Brooklyn Steel Opens Tomorrow, Foreshadowing a New Trend in Music Industry Consolidation

Magdalena Waz


There’s no doubt that the music scene in Brooklyn and NYC at large is in flux. From festival newcomers to DIY venues barely hanging on to major acquisitions of NYC grown music empires, a shakeup is afoot.

Nothing exemplifies this shakeup more than the impending opening of a giant music venue, Brooklyn Steel, at 319 Frost St. in East Williamsburg. 

The new 1,900-person venue will open its doors to the public tomorrow night with an impressive five-night residency of one of NYC’s biggest indie exports, LCD Soundsystem.

It is quite surreal, but Brooklyn Steel is opening less than a mile away from Bushwick’s beloved DIY venue, Shea Stadium, which was forced to temporarily close down due to major permitting issues, and to crowdfund the necessary cash it will take to get it up to code and out of trouble with authorities. 

With its capacity larger than nearby venues, Brooklyn Steel doesn’t necessarily pose a direct threat to smaller venues when it comes to booking acts, but East Williamsburg—with its cavernous warehouses and quiet nighttime streets— is still a battleground where homegrown musical ventures come up against the problems if launching new performance spaces that only money can solve. 

Brooklyn Steel, as it came into being over the past year or two, is owned by Bowery Presents, the already large operator of several venues on both sides of the East River and beyond. Furthermore, Bowery Presents was acquired last year by AEG Live, a mega promoter with fingers in hundreds of venues and ownership of Coachella and Panorama festivals.

AEG’s direct competitor Live Nation owns the others. Both companies seem to be interested in acquiring the little guys and maintaining a well-oiled machine in partnership with ticketing agencies and generally eliminating competition, which we all know is the hallmark of a healthy economy. What is not healthy are the way in which artists will have less bargaining power when they are dealing with the possibility of playing shows in our borough.

Just last week, Brooklyn Steel suffered its first major blow when a plan to sell tickets to all five LCD Soundsystem shows ended in most fans being unable to secure tickets and hundreds of tickets appearing on third party resale sites at well over face value. Most people blame this kind of behavior on a ticketing websites’ inability or unwillingness to block scalpers and bots from scooping up the majority of tickets.

Brooklyn Steel now boasts a 2 out of 5 star rating on Facebook due to the debacle. We’re hopeful they’ll be able to crawl out from under it to deliver shows to a willing audience able to get into the place without paying an arm and a leg.

Featured image courtesy of Brooklyn Steel.

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