Music With Friends Club Draws Big Stars to Small Venues

Nashville is the new home to a private music social club where members pay a premium price to see top artists give three performances per year at an intimate venue in town.

The first performance for the new club, called Music With Friends, was on Monday and featured Diana Ross at the new CMA Theater inside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Music With Friends founder Larry Farber, a music industry veteran from Charlotte, N.C., said members pay a one-time permanent seat fee of $500 and then $1,500 annually in exchange for three shows that feature a preshow cocktail party and a post-concert event.

As of Monday, Music With Friends had garnered 400 members in Nashville using a word-of-mouth marketing strategy featuring in-home events at the homes of prominent Middle Tennessee residents.

Music With Friends started in Charlotte in 2007 and expanded to Charleston, S.C., in 2010.

“I had a dream to create a music club, if you will, a country club for music lovers,” Farber said.

After the program’s first year, the approximately 660 seats in the Charlotte venue have been sold out, as have about 420 seats for the Charleston club. The CMA Theater, where the plan is to hold all the Nashville shows, seats 777, Farber said.

“You want to give fans the chance to see artists like Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, major acts at a small venue they otherwise wouldn't play,” Farber said.

By NATE RAU / The Tennessean :: View Entire Article

Posted on Oct 31, 2013

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Savvy Houstonians Susan and Sanford Criner are no strangers to live music. The couple opened Rockefeller’s nightclub as part of an inner-city real estate renovation in 1979, so it’s no surprise they are the hosts of Music With Friends, an exclusive new club that organizes marquee musical performances for its members. “Music With Friends is a way for us to recreate the magic of Rockefeller’s, presenting big acts in an intimate venue,” says Susan Criner, who’s also the owner of Gulf Coast Entertainment. Founded by Larry Farber in Charlotte, MWF now operates in four cities: Houston follows Charlotte, Charleston and Nashville. Membership offers three annual performances by world-renowned artists, plus pre- and post-event cocktails. “Other MWF clubs have had acts such as Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, Diana Ross, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow, but the beauty of the club is that each city’s members get to give their input on which acts they want to see, through an artist poll,” Criner explains. Though the first show is not until the fall and the talent is yet to be determined, she says memberships are selling quickly—limited only by the seating available in the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall (800 Bagby Street). “It’s an acoustic jewel box that accommodates 500 people,” Criner says. “There’s not a bad seat in the house!”

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Posted on Jun 6, 2014