House Concerts…A New Kind Of Tour
Well, ok, it’s not a totally new concept. I went to one a long time ago in South Jersey when I was up for a family visit…it was ok. I wasn’t crazy about the music (it was poorly done abstract electronic) …and there wasn’t enough seating (which made me even less crazy about the music) but it was an interesting idea to have a small concert in a house. No one was smoking. There were no sloppy drunk people. Everyone was listening intently to the music. It was kind of nice. It was, however, not nice enough for me to remember that such a thing existed. I had totally forgotten about house concerts until just recently when I was doing some other research.
Keep in mind, a house concert is not the same as having a band play at your Memorial Day barbeque. It’s literally a concert…at your house. The music is the event…not just the background to another event. Most house concerts are acoustic, but some people will host full electric bands…it varies with the homeowners. Either way, it’s something that new and established artists alike should really keep in mind when planning gigs. If you’re doing original music, it’s a great way to fill gaps in your schedule…especially when touring. It’s also a good way to build your fan base locally and regionally if you’re just starting out.
Another thing to remember about house concerts is that they are private events. This means that they don’t actually sell tickets, they ask for a donation at the door (usually $10 to $20). You see, if tickets are sold then it is considered a public event and is then subject to a bunch of rules and regulations and permitting and so on…and so on. SO, the amount of money you’ll make can vary unless you get a guarantee from the host for a minimum amount. You can also sell CDs and other merchandise at the house concert, so if you don’t or can’t get a guarantee those sales could possibly make up the difference.
“But, I’ve never done a house concert before. I wouldn’t know where to start”
I totally understand. The best place to start is with your fans. Let them know that you are available for that kind of gig. Chances are, it never occurred to them, either. If you’re still not quite sure how to proceed, I’ve put this link to Concerts In Your Home right here so you can check it out. Concerts In Your Home has a bunch of really good “getting started” guides for musicians as well as hosts. The other really cool thing is that musicians and hosts can become members and use the database to find houses to play or bands to host. So, if you’re planning to travel from New Orleans to Chicago for two ok paying gigs in Chicago…you might just be able to find a couple of house concerts to play on the way there or back to make some extra dough and grow your fan base.
“So, what’s so special about a house concert?”
Like I said before, it’s a concert…inside someone’s house. The people who show up are there to hear you play. They are not there to drink the night away. They are not there to be rowdy and act stupid. They come to a house concert because they either already know and like your music or the host knows and likes your music and wants to share you with their friends and neighbors. Notice I said “you” not “it”. It’s the nature of a house concert to foster an intimate connection between artist and audience. If the host just wanted to share the music, they’d give a CD or mp3 to their friends. Real listeners of music…the kind of people who attend and host house concerts… want to have that connection to the artist and that’s also what they want to share with others. Listeners will come back time and time again while fans are most often trend seekers and will jump ship as soon as something newer and shinier appears. It’s the listeners you want to turn into fans, which is much easier to do than turning a fan into a listener. House concerts are a perfect way to do that.
House concerts are also a really good offering for fundraising. One of our local NOLA artists, Lynn Drury, recently did some fundraising (she also landed on the cover of Oxford Town, check it out!) to help produce her latest record. The record was funded partially by a grant from the Threadhead Records Foundation, but it wasn’t quite enough to get everything done. So she used Chip In to go directly to her fans to ask for donations and whoever gave at least $40 got a free CD and a signed photo. You can take it a step further by offering to do a house concert for a much larger donation. Actually, there are a lot of cool things you can offer your fans…but that’s another post.
Keep house concerts in mind. Check out Concerts In Your Home and find out some really great ways to get started playing or hosting your own house concert.