New Earth Music Hall

New Earth Music Hall becomes Live Wire Athens
September 19, 2015 – 03:38 pm
At New Earth Music Hall on

Daniel Robertson Jr. lived in Savannah until he shut down his venue, Live Wire Music Hall, in January 2013. The venue faced off against financial struggles resulting from decreased tourism and city law banning anyone under 21 from entering the establishment.

Robertson thought his career managing music venues was over. However, shortly after moving to Athens, he found himself in charge of New Earth Music Hall, which at the beginning of this year became Live Wire Athens.

“I personally moved to Athens just to start a new life for my family, ” Robertson said. “[Buying the property] just kind of fell into my lap as an opportunity. Once I heard about the opportunity and I figured out that it may be a good thing to do, I contacted both of my brothers.”

Originally, Robertson started off as New Earth Music Hall’s general manager alongside his brothers, Brenden, the venue’s production manager, and Andrew, the venue’s operations and bar manager.

After running the venue for some time, Robertson said he “didn’t like the way that [New Earth Music Hall] was being run” and wanted things done his way. He changed the name of the company to Live Wire Athens and made alterations to the company’s organization and efficiency.

Robertson plans to use the venue for numerous purposes such as corporate meetings, cocktail hours and a rental room for Greek life. The building has already held a wedding and is being used weekly for a music class.

Robertson is also working with a food service, Holy Crepe, to install a food truck next to the venue.

“We aim to be a home for musicians — local, regional and national. We want both musicians and customers to be warm and welcome while they’re here and want to come back for that reason, ” Robertson said.

The path to these changes, however, was tumultuous, as the property at 227 West Dougherty St. has a history of complications.

In 2009, Athens was without a medium-sized music venue for artists. Property owner Mark Bell rented the space to Adrian Zelski, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the Athens band DubConcious, to create New Earth Music Hall.

“I thought that there needed to be a smaller venue in Athens, ” Zelski said. “There needs to be a mid-ranged venue.”

Zelski had been booking shows and touring with his band DubConcious since 1998 and understood what equipment and atmosphere a venue needed to provide for its audience and artists.

For two years, the venue prospered as the Georgia Theatre underwent renovations following a massive fire. However, once the Georgia Theatre reopened in 2011, New Earth’s finances began to fall apart.

“The Georgia Theatre came back and just ate up the whole town, ” Zelski said. “It was hard to stay open.”

Zelski said New Earth Music Hall’s property looked “beat up and ugly” and attempted to attract more customers by improving the appearance of the building.

“To build an outside that anyone wanted to come and see or be around — the curb appeal — it was about a $100, 000 renovation, ” Zelski said.

New Earth Music Hall was constantly renovating — furnishing the interior, adding an outdoor stage and courtyard, installing monitors, professional lighting and sound systems and making the venue a B-Corporation, a company that defines goals to improve the environment and the society.

When Zelski asked Bell for a discount on the improvements, he was denied.

“It was never a very healthy relationship. We paid a very high rent; [we] bought the business for a very high dollar, ” Zelski said.

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