By Andrew Parisi Student ID: 216218192 WordPress User Name : boatripples
The Croxton Park Hotel was once the pinnacle of live music entertainment in Melbourne. By 2015 it was a languishing dinosaur that was out of step with the burgers, boutique beers and beards of High St, Thornbury. To capture the local audience, a new product and brand was desperately needed.
Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
The Croxton Park Hotel was built in 1844 and has weathered many incarnations. It’s popularity during the 1970s and 1980s when it was one of Melbourne’s premier music venues, hosted the likes of AC/DC, Cold Chisel and Little River Band. It was a touchstone of the local music industry – a classic example of a brand community built on quality, authenticity and memorable shared experiences.
Do yourself a favour
During the 1970s, Molly Meldrum hosted a pioneering music program for ABC television, Countdown, which was primarily targeted at teenagers. In addition to his Countdown appearances, Molly ran a weekly DJ set at ‘The Croc’ – a clever brand association and co-branding exercise. Molly wanted to make himself and Countdown credible to the older pub going audience, whilst The Croc benefitted by having a TV star associated with the venue. For years, Molly and The Croc were synonymous.
The waning of Molly’s career went hand-in-hand with the slow death of The Croc. Countdown was axed from the ABC in 1987, families moved into the affordable suburbs of Thornbury and Northcote, and the bands scuttled off to more fashionable areas such as Prahran and St Kilda.
The venue was then acquired by the ALH Group and its focus shifted to its family bistro and gaming room. The family pub side of the business thrived, but for more than twenty years, The Croxton Park Hotel as a live music venue was virtually non-existent.
The times are a changin’
As developers snapped up real estate in St Kilda and Prahran throughout the noughties, pricing sky rocketed creating yet another gravitational shift to the northern suburbs. Students and artists who desired low cost accommodation flocked to the inner north. In fact, according to APRA/AMCOS (Australian Performing Rights Association), Melbourne’s inner north now has the highest concentration of song writers in the country.
With the changing character of the neighbourhood, The Croxton Park Hotel was yet again out of step with the area. Hip young locals would avoid the “pokies pub” while the old working class patrons moved out of the neighbourhood. The business needed a facelift to find its audience again.
Redecorate, rebrand, relaunch
In 2015, ALH recognised that with correct branding and the right product, The Croxton could draw passionate music lovers once again. But the business would need a complete overhaul.
Firstly, they shed any of the hokey family vibes by re working the business name and logo: The Croxton Park Hotel became The Croxton Bandroom, sending a new message about the core purpose of the business. ALH completely overhauled the venue, updating the tired interior, which was reminiscent of the late eighties – a low point in the room’s history. ALH also ensured a top of the line sound and lighting system was installed, signalling to the music community that the venue meant business.
Most importantly, ALH engaged a contractor with extensive industry expertise and contacts to book acts into the room. Their agent was able to engage bands that would never had played their venue 12 months earlier by offering substantial guarantees. The Croxton paid to trade off the back of the ‘cool’ bands‘ profiles and capture the music scenes’ attention.
The gamble payed off. Within days of announcing that The Croxton Bandroom as a “new” live music venue in Melbourne, the first series of shows at the venue sold out. This generated phenomenal excitement. Within a matter of weeks The Croxton Bandroom was announcing shows that would have normally gone to it’s traditional rivals, without having to pay guarantees.
Seven months in, the venue has gone from strength to strength, hosting side shows for the major music festivals and firmly establishing itself as a ‘go to’ venue for international music acts.