The evening Spacebar owner Ben DeRolph took over the Old North music venue formerly known as Kobo, he was forced to deal with a series of plumbing emergencies that led him to shutter both bathrooms with duct tape. Weeks later he closed the entire space for extensive renovations, finally reopening to positive reviews in September 2014.

The evening Spacebar owner Ben DeRolph took over the Old North music venue formerly known as Kobo, he was forced to deal with a series of plumbing emergencies that led him to shutter both bathrooms with duct tape. Weeks later he closed the entire space for extensive renovations, finally reopening to positive reviews in September 2014.

"Even still I sometimes have to stop friends and be like, 'Do you guys really like this place? Is that a reality?'" said DeRolph, who took over the club in early 2014 and will celebrate Spacebar's one-year, post-renovation anniversary with three days of free music beginning on Thursday, Sept. 10. "And it's a relief when they reassure me that they do, and that they're happy with the space."

Across town in the Brewery District in early September, a similar transformation was underway at Notes, a new music venture situated in the basement of a fully rehabbed, three-story building that also incorporates a restaurant (Copious, opening later this month) and a sizeable third-floor event space.

"[The ownership group] came to me when they had a concept and said, 'Would you like to help us design a jazz club?'" said vice president of image and entertainment Bob Breithaupt, seated at the bar of the venue, which opens Thursday, Sept. 10, with a concert from local singer-songwriter Joey Hebdo. "I said if you want a jazz club I'm not your guy, but if you're interested in a creative music space, I am."

Both Spacebar and Notes, interestingly enough, fall at opposite ends of the spectrum of a recent online debate ignited by a Columbus Underground opinion piece penned by local musician/organizer Joey Hendrickson, who also serves as brand manager for Notes, where he called for the death of the $5 cover charge and advocated for higher ticket prices, writing, "It's hard for us to think that people, friends, and followers would pay $10 or $15 for our live show. But this fear shouldn't exist."

This mindset has been adopted and advocated by Notes, which will feature an eclectic, low-volume mix of performers (Breithaupt said genres like metal, punk and hip-hop likely wouldn't suit the space due to the potential disruption the music could cause customers dining one level above), with door-pricing for most shows beginning at $15 and going up from there.

"As you look around the country, cover charges of $15, $20 and even $30 are not at all uncommon," said Breithaupt, who modeled the concept after venues like the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, Music Box Supper Club in Cleveland and City Winery, which has five locations spread across the country. "This is a big project, and there's been a lot of money invested in this primarily to present music; it's not to be a sports bar. It is a little bit different of a model than what's been presented, and we have to think about how we price things for the benefit of the artists.

"Fifteen years ago no one would have thought of spending any more than 50 cents for a cup of coffee. Now people easily spend for one cup of coffee what they are being asked to spend for an entire evening of music. I don't think in an artistic environment where we value art - if we value art - that's fair."

Contrast this approach with Spacebar, where a $5 cover remains standard and the entirety of the door revenue generated goes directly to the bands - an amount DeRolph pegged around $400 on an average evening (the venue employs and pays its own door and sound staff with bar revenue).

"I thought [the essay] was idiotic, and I don't mind publically saying that," said DeRolph. "There are still times people come up and there's a $5 cover and they walk away because of it. Bump that up to $10 … and the bands wouldn't make any money; and the bar wouldn't make any money."

Hendrickson, for his part, admitted he purposely left gaps in his essay - "The most boring article in the world is a scientifically proven model for how a cover structure works every single time in every single venue," he said - and he simply hoped to spark a larger conversation about the value attendees place on the concert-going experience.

In a digital era where recorded music has lost nearly all of its value, it's a conversation worth having.

Phillip Fox of the Phillip Fox Band, for one, said more than 90% of his income is generated by live performance, with smaller amounts coming from album sales, digital streaming royalties and merchandising.

Even so, each person interviewed admitted there's no easy, one-size-fits all model, and the Columbus scene is clearly big and diverse enough to support everything from the Carabar approach (shows are free, with a portion of bar proceeds going to the performers) to those crowds willing to pay more of a premium for an evening of jazz, opera or roots-rock at Notes.

"The reality is every band is its own weird sort of business model, and what works for one band typically doesn't work for another," Fox said. "You're probably never going to find a blanket statement that's true for every artist. That said, as a whole I think we've all undervalued the music we're making, and the value it has to society. And if we aren't the first people to put a foot forward and say we're going to value this more highly than it has been, no one else is going to."

Indeed, the biggest hurdle to overcome in the discussion is the reality that art and commerce have long been uneasy bedfellows - "There's definitely that [voice] in the back of some artists' minds telling them, 'You suck because you make money,' and the only way to make money and still be real is if you're sort of dragged kicking and screaming into the limelight," Fox said - and there will always be a percentage of the music-making population that creates not to make a living, but in order to live.

"On my end, I make music because I have to, because I think if I didn't I would be in a straightjacket," said Sharon Udoh (Counterfeit Madison, the DewDroppers), who aims to keep her ticket prices low to assure concerts remain accessible for people of all income levels and backgrounds ("If I can charge you less I will charge you less; If I can charge nothing, I will charge nothing," she said). "To share emotions with other people and establish a connection, that's a gift. There was something about that article that rubbed me the wrong way, and it didn't have anything to do with the dollar signs. It had to do with people talking about making music like it's a right, and it is not a right. Playing music is always a privilege."