Arlene's Grocery

(Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)

Boutique Venues In NYC To Catch Up-and-Comers

June 4, 2019

By Allen Foster

In the heyday of physical media such as vinyl, 8-track, cassette, or CD, the profit margin was large enough and the duplication methods were inadequate enough (for the consumer) to make an artist's main revenue stream music sales. The primary purpose of a live performance was to raise awareness of a new product. As digital duplication, file sharing, and streaming became the norm, even the world's best-selling artists turned to live performance as the primary source of income. More than ever before, up-and-coming artists depend on live audiences for support. The future of original music depends on venues, such as the ones listed in this guide, which nurture music's best-emerging artists.

Arlene's Grocery
95 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10001

Imagine seeing Lana Del Rey years before "Video Games" came out. How about Lady Gaga before "Just Dance?" This former Lower East Side bodega has been the keystone of New York's music scene for a little over 20 years. During that period, Arlene's Grocery has featured many up-and-coming artists who have become some of the biggest names in music. On the outside, the venue still resembles its namesake, but on the inside, there are two fully stocked bars, a gallery space for artists, and a performance room that can accommodate up to 150 people.


The Bitter End

The Bitter End
147 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and LaGuardia)
New York, NY 10012

The Bitter End is an iconic establishment that has the distinction of being New York's oldest rock room. Located in the heart of Greenwich Village for nearly 60 years, this legendary venue has featured some of the biggest names in rock, alternative, jazz, blues, spoken word, country, and more. This is the largest capacity room on our shortlist, holding a maximum of 230 people. Artists who have graced the stage at The Bitter End include luminaries such as Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Neil Diamond, Randy Newman, and Tommy James, along with thousands of others.



Pete's Candy Store
709 Lorimer Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211

One of the best-kept secrets in the region, Pete's Candy Store features an extremely intimate live music room that has just 30 seats and holds a maximum of 40 people. Originally, the space opened in the 1920s as a general store that was called Funzi's. Funzi's became Pete's Candy Store, a neighborhood diner, in 1970. Then, 29 years later, in 1999, the diner transitioned to a bar and music venue that quickly became a "hipster hot spot." The singer-songwriter on the rise, Beth Orton, was the first artist to play the room. Most of the shows are only a few dollars – if not free – and occasionally name artists such as Norah Jones slip in for an unannounced gig.


Rockwood Music Hall

Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street
New York, NY 10002

With three stages ranging from a 64- to a 200-capacity crowd, the Rockwood Music Hall has a variety of rooms to offer up-and-coming artists. Local singer-songwriters frequently choose the location for that all-important release party. Additionally, the venue features its own record label, Rockwood Music Hall Recordings. The Lower East Side listening room has only been around for 14 years, but it has garnered an impressive list of performers that includes such notables as Mumford & Sons, The Killers, and Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day). Owner Ken Rockwood, however, is probably best known for offering help to artists he believes in so they can get to that next level.


Country Girl

The Waylon
736 10th Avenue (between 50 and 51)
New York, NY 10019

The Waylon is an authentic country saloon that is located in the heart of New York's famed Hell's Kitchen. It is cozy and features rustic decor along with a jukebox filled with country tunes — you can eat Frito Pie while listening to Tammy Wynette. But if you want to be the first to see the city's best country artists, stop by on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or any other night the venue is featuring live music for an exhilarating country experience that you just can't get anyplace else in New York.