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Senate Bill 793: Everything You Need to Know

F. Michael Ayaz

Music is a key part of any culture. Although music changes and grows as society does, listening to live music is a beloved pastime for people of all cultures and backgrounds. Many live music gatherings serve as a type of celebration, which is part of the reason that alcohol is so common at concerts and live shows.

Unfortunately, music venues and entertainment spaces are often at a disadvantage when it comes to alcohol sales. Although alcohol is a significant part of many concerts, theater productions, and other live performances, the legal limitations on liquor sales often hurt the venues that host these events. Fortunately, Senate Bill 793 (SB793) offers hope to venue owners and managers who struggle to comply with current alcoholic beverage compliance laws.

What Is SB793?

SB793 is a bill that just passed through the California senate. In this bill, lawmakers created a new type of liquor license specifically for music venues and clubs. In this bill, venues are not required to offer food or have a kitchen in order to sell alcoholic beverages. For many venues, preparing and serving food is not a viable option, and one that requires a significant amount of staff, supplies, and facility upgrades. Now, live performance venues will be exempt from this requirement.

In order to keep patrons safe and ensure that bars do not attempt to obtain a venue license for the food exemption, SB 793 states that music venues may only serve alcohol beginning two hours before a live performance and until one hour after a live performance ends. This means that they cannot have an open bar or access to alcohol sales when there is not a show going on.


The law also mentions that the venue does not need to be used exclusively for music and entertainment events. However, there are stringent criteria that qualify a venue for this new type of license.

In order to be a “music entertainment facility” and qualify for the new license classification, the facility must have:

  • Performance and audience spaces that have been designated and clearly defined
  • A public address or PA system
  • A lighting rig
  • Mixing equipment

Additionally, in order to be a music venue, the business must have at least two of the following on staff:

  • Security
  • Box office manager
  • Booker
  • Promoter
  • Stage manager
  • Sound engineer

It is possible for one person to perform multiple roles, in some situations. However, at least one person must be employed for these roles and no less than two of the roles must be filled at all times.

There must be a ticket fee or cover charge in order to get into the event. A venue cannot allow performers to perform without pay or only for audience tips and qualify for the new license. The only exception to this is for charity events or fundraisers. If you do opt to host a fundraiser, it is important to check with your attorney first to ensure that you are following all necessary protocol.

Alcohol Limitations

Although the venue can serve beer, wine, liquor, and other spirits, they may only do so to people who are of legal drinking age. Although individuals under the age of 21 may be allowed to be at the event, the venue must ensure that no one under legal drinking age is allowed to consume alcohol.

All alcohol must remain on the premises at all times. The venue cannot sell alcohol to be brought home or that is unopened. They cannot sell alcohol between 2:00 am and 6:00 am, even if the normal timeframe of two hours before a show until one hour after the show falls within this timeframe. For example, if a show ends at 1:30 am, the venue must stop selling by 2:00 am rather than the usual one hour window after the concert has ended.


If you own or operate a music venue and wish to take advantage of the freedom that this new bill allows, you must apply for a license through the state. Just as any other alcohol license, this process can be confusing and often operates on a strict schedule. The best way to navigate this process is with the help of a qualified alcoholic beverage compliance attorney. We can make sure all of your application paperwork is executed correctly, submitted properly, and that you are on track to get your license in the smallest amount of time.

If a legal issue ever does arise, we can also help you to navigate the claim and give you the best chance of retaining your license, reputation, and business.

For more information about our services, contact Blake & Ayaz .

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