Wanna Host A House Concert?
(Some of this info is from Christopher Bingham's website)Home
I love doing house concerts and I'd love to come play for you. It's easier than you might think. It's a great way of making new friends and creating a community of people who love the music you love.
WHAT IS A HOUSE CONCERT?
A house concert is just that. Except it can not only be in your house but also in your backyard, your business, your back 40, any number of places. Anywhere you can assemble a gathering of people who want to hear a songwriter's songs. They're happening more frequently as artists find that 25 to 60 people can fit into a living room quite comfortably.
There is much less overhead, no smoke, low or no amounts of alcohol to compete with, little advertising necessary and ticket prices can be whatever the artist and presenter agree upon.
It's best to start planning at least two months in advance, though some folks do it in a month. Some people treat their concerts as an ongoing series and will book artists a year in advance. Keep in mind that touring artists live by their performances. Take your commitment seriously - a low turnout is like showing up for work and having your boss inform you that today you're working for less than minimum wage. Not fun for anyone.
That said, it's usually a good time for all concerned. Like many good things, sometimes a little work is involved.
WHEN TO PRESENT/WHAT TO ADVERTISE
Our experience shows that Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights are best, but Sunday afternoons work well in a lot of cases too. The most important factor is that the show is advertised as a "sit down concert" - audience expectation will be the difference between having a party with guests talking through the music versus having a concert that changes peoples lives!
The easiest ways to announce a house concert is by sending an announcement or invitation online. Contact Bill for a sample invitation.
WHO TO INVITE
Make a list of your closest 50-100 friends and their addresses. Then make a list of another 50 people who you think might want to see this particular artist. Experience shows that you can expect anywhere from 20-40% of your invited guests to come.
WHEN TO MAIL
Send your mailing out 3 weeks in advance (two weeks in advance at the latest) to the 100 to 150 people on the list. Getting the invitation into the homes of your audience with enough time to plan to attend is the most important aspect of the advertising! We've found that if we send the invitation too early, (more than three weeks in advance) people tend to forget about the show. Too late (less than two weeks before the show) and people have made other plans.
Be sure to include your phone number, info how to RSVP and get directions, the date and time of the show, information about food, the amount of donation you expect, artists names, "IN CONCERT" etc.
If you're interested in providing food, we've found that providing drinks and some munchies before the show, with a potluck AFTER works best for feeding people and making the music happen. If there is an intermission, people will grab food then as well. Keep the food simple and cheap. The focus should be the music.
If you're short on chairs, request that people bring folding chairs or pillows. It's not unusual to end up with a handful of devoted (and limber!) fans sitting on the floor down front at our feet. Not a problem!
CREATING A STAGE
You can create a stage in the corner of your living room by putting a guitar stand there in a way that says "This is the performance space," or by rearranging a bit and placing a small area rug for the artists to stand on. Set the stage as if the musicians are story tellers (they often are, they just sing their stories) and they deserve the same amount of attention as if you were sitting in a theatre about to see a play. (REMEMBER, this is not background music, it's the focus of the evening!)
HANDLING MONEY EFFECTIVELY
You don't "charge admission," you just have a "suggested donation of $10 to $20" (more if you can, less if you can't).
The method that seems to work best for us (and it's not the only way by any means) is for the host to keep a list of reservations and to encourage as many folks as possible to send in their donation BEFORE the show. Some hosts give their guests incentives for "pre-donating" such as letting them have their pick of the best seats, or entering their name into a drawing for a CD, etc.
Since not everyone will send a donation in advance, it's best on the day of the show to have a volunteer sitting strategically close to the entrance with the guest list at hand. Then names can be checked off as donations are made.
Because it's always possible for folks to slip through the cracks, it's also a good idea to make an announcement regarding donations at the beginning of the show and again after the break, making sure that everyone is aware of where the CLEARLY MARKED donation jar/hat/basket is located.
You should also provide a place for the artist to sell their CDs and to provide a mailing list. A small table or piece of furniture in a location that allows for traffic flow works well. After the concert, enjoy good food and conversation! Encourage folks to buy CDs and get on the artist's mailing list. And if you plan to host more shows, have a mailing list of your own!
Host one tomorrow! Check with Bill concerning his schedule.
Thanks so much for your help!