Surveys and Petitions

The better we understand the RVA music scene the better positioned we are to improve it.

  • Did you know that Virginia’s Alcohol and Beverage (ABC) laws disallows bars? That means that essentially all small music venues must run as a restaurant. That has real consequences for the amount of money musicians can make and the kind of musics audiences hear.
  • Did you know that Richmond’s Dance Hall Ordinance requires businesses to pay a yearly fee, hire security and off-duty police officers if more than 10 percent of the club’s floor space is used for dancing? 
  • Did you know that even non-profits must pay 7% admissions tax to the city?
  • Did you know that the ABC commission can restrict the genres of music that are performed in licensed establishments?
  • Did you know that any sound that exceeds 55 dBA during nighttime hours and sound that exceeds 65 dBA during daytime hours when measured inside a structure is a violation of Richmond’s noise ordinance? (in residential zones.) That’s not much louder than a conversation. 

RVA’s music scene is complex. Its health is connected to the complex interaction of local and state business interests, state ABC regulations, municipal codes, enforcement, etc. The better folks understand the details, the better position they are in to foster the culture of live music in town.

Relevant Advocacy and Petitions:

  • Tim 2017 several proposed bills were concerned with live music, including SB1216 and HB1526. While these bills failed, there is legislative and industry energy behind dealing directly with the ABC ratio and in establishing a clear performing arts license. These issues will come up again in subsequent years.
  • Fix the Mix Virginians for Mixed Beverage Reform. The state and RVA restaurant lobbies are currently split on this issue.
  • Use THIS TOOL to find your delegate. Call them or write them to make your voice heard.


The more we understand the experiences, frustrations and successes of local musicians, venues, audiences, stores, studios and teachers, the more likely we can find ways to make it work better for all.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on artists, especially musicians, across the globe. Please take a couple of minutes to complete this survey on the pandemics impacts in RVA.

Please take a couple of minutes to complete this survey on the local music scene. (And please encourage others to contribute as well.)

Below is a preliminary summary of (111) responses from this survey thus far using the Voyant visualization package. Figures 1 visualizes all words in responses by “gigging musicians.” Figures 2-4 show McGraw’s (admittedly subjective) categorization of responses into phrases (Voyant can’t deal with spaces between words). Figures 5-7 display these as words. In questions regarding challenges and needed changes, issues surrounding “venues” are the primary concern. “Diversity” and “talent” are viewed as RVA’s primary assets.

Fig. 1. Visualization of raw data from responses by “gigging musicians”: musician-raw-response.jpg

Fig. 2. Visualization of “Challenges” categorized by phrase: challenges-phrases

Fig. 3. Visualization of “Assets” categorized by phrase:assets-phrases

Fig. 4. Visualization of “Needed Changes” categorized by phrase:needed-changes-phrases

Fig. 5. Visualization of “Challenges” categorized by word: challenges-words

Fig. 6. Visualization of “Assets” categorized by word:assets-words

Fig. 7. Visualization of “Needed Changes” categorized by word:needed-changes-words