Muse Music is currently Provo’s oldest continuously operated music venue. It’s had a few different owners over the years, but last week the concert space entered a new era when Darcie Roy and Debby Phillips purchased controlling interests in the business. The venue officially changed ownership June 6.
Darcie and Debby have been working at Muse Music for some time now so they’re familiar faces to anyone who has spent time on 100 Block. They purchased their shares of the venue from Colin Hatch and Justin Hyatt, who together bought Muse Music last year from Jake Haws. You can read more about that transition in this article I wrote for the Daily Herald.
Shortly after Darcie and Debby bought Muse Music I sent them a few questions about their new venture. The Q&A that resulted is below and explores why the duo wanted to get into the music venue business, what they have planned for the future, and even why they chose to live and work in Provo.
Who now owns Muse?
Darcie: Debby Phillips and Darcie Roy, Managing Owners, Justin Hyatt, Colin Hatch.
If Colin and Justin are no longer the owners, will they still be involved in any way?
Darcie: They each still retain 10 percent ownership.
Debby: Justin will continue to provide support as needed and Colin is going to focus on engineering for the studio.
How long have you been considering taking over Muse, and/or how long has this deal been in the works?
Darcie: I wouldn’t call it a takeover, haha. We joined an existing partnership. I started working at Muse a little over a year ago, and Debby about six months ago, and our passion for the venue and the music scene in Provo, coupled with our previous management experiences, kind of took over. When we found ourselves willingly working way more than any employer could reasonably pay us, when the music scene and the venue became the predominant topic of our conversations, when we couldn’t even go to a show elsewhere without picking every detail about it apart, that’s when we knew it was eventual. Logistically, this timing seemed to work out best for us, as well as for Colin and Justin.
Debby: Darcie and I had talked about possibly buying in to Muse at some point in the future as we both are very passionate about providing a place for the community to experience a wide variety of music. We had mentioned to Justin that we would be eventually interested in buying in to or purchasing Muse and within a couple of weeks, Colin and Justin offered us the opportunity to purchase 80 percent of the business and become managing owners. And of course, we jumped at the opportunity!
Are you planning any changes or anything that generally excites you?
Darcie: We’re planning on some changes to the cafe, hopefully rolling them out in time for BYU’s and UVU’s Fall semesters. We want to continue to build Muse’s reputation, maybe get some bigger touring acts as a result, but really be a focus for local bands to build and grow into whatever they want to be. If they want to grow their fanbases through impressive live performances, we want to offer them a venue to showcase their talents; if they want to record incredible albums to share with the world, we want to offer them a studio to record that passion; if they just want to have fun jamming tunes for their friends and family because it’s what makes them happy, we want to offer them that opportunity too.
Debby: I am personally excited about building the studio business — I do both recording and live sound engineering —as well as continuing to build Muse as a place for musicians to develop and for the community to hear great music.
Is there any chance that the cafe will come back in some form?
Darcie: The cafe is most definitely coming back. Debby and I pretty much plan on living there, and we need to eat, haha.
Debby: One of the plans we have been working on is adding hot food to the cafe again. We are looking to provide affordable, fun food during shows as well as possibly opening earlier so that people can eat and socialize before shows, or even stop by for a snack while studying or catching up with friends.
Why did you want to own a music venue?
Darcie: Honestly, I didn’t. I never anticipated this. When I first moved to Provo, all I wanted to do was go to shows. I found myself spending my paychecks on 100 Block. Volunteering at Velour to see shows for free turned to working the door at Muse, which — after putting together a fairly successful show for my birthday, on a whim — turned to booking shows. I quickly realized that there’s much more to a great show than a line-up — that the way the venue looks, sounds, and operates plays a huge part in it — and I decided I wanted to do whatever I could to make great shows happen all the time. Having great partners in the business, with the shared vision of community involvement and growth, was the key to making it a reality, though. While we’ve all got different experiences and points of view, our objective is the same. Debby and I, in particular, work really well together. I’ll have crazy, seemingly over-the-top ideas for events, and she’ll see the nuts and bolts of it to make them a reality.
Debby: I didn’t know I wanted to own a music venue until Darcie started working at Muse. I have a background in business and have been working as a consultant in the music industry doing digital media marketing, merchandising and management. I love the variety of music available in Utah County and love the sense of community that comes with being involved with a music venue. And of course, I am a huge proponent of people hearing live music on a regular basis. There is something special about sharing that experience with the band and other audience members.
Darcie: Provo has such potential. There are so many creative people here, and so many different genres of music. Just when you think the scene is getting old and tired, something different comes along and sparks it back to life, reminds you why you felt so passionately for music in the first place. Provo keeps you on your toes.
Debby: Oddly enough, Provo came about due to Neon Trees and Twitter. I had become friendly with the band — I ran a fan-site for them — and had heard so much from them about what a great music scene Provo had. I actually met Darcie via Twitter due to our mutual love for the band. Darcie had been planning to make a new start somewhere and had been debating between Provo and the San Francisco Bay Area (where I am from) and had chosen Provo because of the lower cost of living and the beautiful surroundings — in addition to the music scene she’d heard about from the band. After visiting multiple times, I fell in love with the area — and the idea of being able to afford to rent a house after years in an apartment! — and decided to relocate here once I finished school in December 2011. It was one of the best decisions I have made in my life!
Debby: We are just so excited to be able to give back to the music community that has made us feel at home here!