NIVA Conference 2024 Kicks Off With State Of The Indies Address


The National Independent Venue Association (NIVA) unfurled the indie flag in the Big Easy this week during NIVA ’24, the third annual gathering of the independent live concert, comedy, promoter and festival industry held Monday through Wednesday in New Orleans. 

General attendance increased by at least 30 percent with the full house at the state of the business opening session with NIVA executive director Stephen Parker; conference chair Jamie Loeb, senior vice president of marketing at Nederlander Concerts; Andre Perry, NIVA board president; Hal Real, founder and CEO of World Café Live and National Independent Venue Foundation (NIVF) board president; and Julia Hartz, co-founder and CEO of Eventbrite. 

“At the core of New Orleans history, there’s always been a tradition of music, art, food and communal gathering and the local creatives behind that represent expansive styles,” said Perry during his address. “New Orleans isn’t one sound, it’s a million different sounds. And the music has been decades ahead of the curve.”

The mood of the crowd fit the party locale and while it wasn’t exactly “Laissez le bon moments rouler,” attendees and association leadership were generally optimistic about the current climate and future of independent live entertainment.

“There’s been a lot of news on the national level about the Justice Department, but I would like to affirm that the most important thing we can do, that we can pursue, is showing our communities our partners, the whole nation, how awesome we are,” said Perry. “We are the most unique, effective places for supporting artist voices and bringing our people together in rural, suburban and urban America. Just like New Orleans, we have been and will remain a vital element of this nation’s character, its economy, its soul.”

The conference highlights NIVA’s New Orleans chapter, with programming taking place across iconic NOLA venues including Generations Hall, Republic NOLA, Preservation Hall and Tipitina’s.

“It’s not just the artists, but the spaces, the clubs, the venues – so many of them independent literally and spiritually,” Perry continued. “The resilience, the diversity, the creativity that is New Orleans is so important to all of us in this room. But like the wide mix of styles that make up this city, our coalition is also wildly diverse. That’s what makes us beautiful. It’s also what makes the work ahead so hard.”

Challenges that were top of mind including how to align venues, promoters and festivals with different priorities and needs; how to address, federal, state and local initiatives impacting the business; how to be equitable across all venues sizes from 100 cap to 10,000. 

“From the smallest to the biggest of us, it can be really hard to move through these current times,” added Perry. “But that’s one of the reasons we are here to affirm community, to strengthen our connection.”

Looking ahead into 2025, Perry explained that NIVA is working on a strategic budget that will continue to support federal, state and local Fix the Tix advocacy and invest in economic research to better frame the impact of the independent live sector. In tandem, the organization plans to amp up member services with group purchasing, structuring a better PRO system and facilitating communication through conferences and at the chapter level.

NIVA represents independent music and comedy venues, promoters, and festivals throughout the U.S. and led the #SaveOurStages campaign, culminating in landmark legislation in 2020 that established the $16 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program.