In Washington, D.C., the Adams Morgan district is known for its place in the city's nightlife. With a variety of bars and popular hangout spots for the students in various colleges within walking distance, Adams Morgan in recent years seemed to be missing something.
Songbyrd Music House & Record Café filled that void.
Giving the strip something different, something classy, and something needed, Songbyrd operates as a restaurant, coffee joint, record store, and live venue. For persons wanting a slice of hip, music love, Songbyrd is now a destination spot in #newDC - something the owners of the venue are totally aware of.
Alisha Edmonson, one of the owners of Songbyrd, uses her knowledge of indie music and her love for good food to make this new shining star in Adams Morgan super bright. Her deep appreciation for what makes the soul feel full, right down to the finer details such as having a music venue which has the look of a cozy den straight from an 80's suburb, has made Songbyrd stand out amongst a bevy of dive bars and pizza joints. This direction has made Songbyrd one of the more popular spots on the strip with a slew of regulars as well as wide-eyed newcomers who are treated with a vibrant slate of indie musicians, DJ sets, and spectacular food.
Alisha Edmonson is this week's Music Monday feature on Ross Business Management.
1. Alisha - tell us a bit about your business and what got you interested in getting involved in the music industry.
Our business is about creating a home for music fans of all stripes and providing unique, high-quality music experiences. That's why we have our daytime space with records, listening stations, and our vintage recording booth paired with gourmet sandwiches and coffee aka the "Record Cafe." Our bar/venue space is where we are always programming live and recorded music experiences like DJs and listening parties. We always say what a sports bar is to sports, we are to music. We really just love music. We think it is an integral part of life, worthy of a fully dedicated space, and wanted to make something super accessible to everyone. Something that is fun, engaging, and spoke to all ages.
2. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve thus far for you at Songbyrd?
Running a venue is not an easy task, running a bar and restaurant is not easy either, nor is a cafe; we decided to do all three. We are open from 8 am to 2 or 3 am. Learning how to juggle essentially three businesses at one time has been hard. Also, the music industry has evolved so much in the last several years and the digital format and digital audience has really changed the landscape. From how you discover bands to how we market shows, learning how to navigate through the plethora of formats is an ongoing challenge.
3. Washington, D.C. seems to be in the middle of a renaissance as far as music is concerned. Where do you feel like venues like yours fit in the grand scheme of this period?
If you look at any great music city you will find amazing smaller venues where artists and the the music community thrive, places where artist can perform and grow their fan base and skills without the pressure of filling a huge space. We have tried to create that type of space, by creating a warm inviting space, with a amazing sound system (we recently upgraded our sound system to a custom one) and very skilled sound techs, we hope that artist and the audience will appreciate and enjoy what we have created.
4. What do you think has been the most fulfilling moment for you since opening your doors?
Oh gosh, that's a hard one. When we first opened the cafe, I was able to meet most of the regulars. Some of them are musicians and eventually have played downstairs in the venue. Seeing someone I know play an amazing set in a space that Joe [my co-owner] and I have created is so gratifying on so many levels. I generally am happy every time a piece of our dream comes to life.
5. Do you have any advice for young people interested in getting involved in the industry?
It is a really hard industry. There are so many more moving parts than a restaurant or bar and every day it is totally different. Each time a band plays, you are changing the vibe of your space, what people want, what they expect, how they behave changes, and it's hard to keep up with.
For more on Songbyrd, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.