Concert-goers at Irving Plaza raced out in panic as shots rang out at 10:15 pm (0200 GMT Thursday) during the opening act before T.I., an Atlanta rapper with a history of legal run-ins.
Police said a 33-year-old man was shot in the stomach and pronounced dead at a hospital near Irving Plaza, which is near Manhattan’s bustling Union Square and the upscale Gramercy Park district.
Three others — men ages 30 and 34 and a 26-year-old woman — were hospitalized with bullet wounds, a police statement said.
The shooting took place inside the third-floor VIP area of the club with police still looking for suspects and a motive, William Aubrey, chief of Manhattan detectives, told reporters.
Thousands of Americans are killed each year in gun violence but shootings are comparatively rare at music clubs, which generally assign security guards to frisk guests for weapons.
The shooting indicates that patrons were allowed to carry guns when entering the VIP section of Irving Plaza, whose management declined comment pending the police investigation.
Two hip-hop news sites said that one of the injured victims was Troy Ave, a New York rapper.
The 1,025-capacity club, owned by entertainment giant Live Nation, is a major venue for rising artists as well as intimate shows by established acts.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, is one of the leading forces in trap music, a style of hip-hop from the US south that emphasizes aggressive lyricism and 1980s-style drum machines.
He served seven months in prison in 2009 for attempting to buy unregistered machine guns from dealers who turned out to be undercover agents.
He spent another 10 months in prison two years later for violating terms of probation on drug charges.
Three of his successive albums between 2006 and 2008 — “King,” “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” and “Paper Trail” — opened at number one on the US Billboard chart.
He has won three Grammy Awards including for the song “My Love,” a collaboration with pop star Justin Timberlake.