Bed and Breakfasts – Dream Locations for House Concerts

There’s a lovely legacy of house concerts that take place at quaint bed and breakfasts and inns. A BNB can often surpass the charm of a typical residence, with built-in amenities like guest rooms, a large kitchens and living area.

In addition to providing entertainment for sleepover guests, a house concert series can be a great local outreach tool to make your community aware of your property. Many people simply don’t know about the great and unique local options for out of town guests. The hotel-on-the-highway is often the default, which is a missed opportunity for the warm and singular experience that a BNB can provide.

So build your local mailing list, and consider putting on a monthly or quarterly house concert at your bed and breakfast. You too can build a legacy of great music and memories, and transform your property into a cultural icon in your community.

Visit www.ConcertsInYourHome.com to sign up as a house concert host, and download our free guide.

Why Host House Concerts?

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Everyone hosts for their own reasons. Chances are you already have enough reason to get started. However, you might be inspired by some of the other ways that hosts benefit from hosting house concerts.

Love of music and artists

Some music fans feel a deep connection to the touring artist. These fans often have a music background, and have profound admiration for people willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a life on the road. Artists delay (or abandon) financial security, dreams of family and a modest home, and the powerful luxury of a stable career routine – weekly outings with friends, dance lessons with your spouse, and more. Yes, there is plenty of magic in return, but the sacrifices are real. For these reasons and more, music fans feel blessed to be able to contribute to a musical dream, and to often see it happen in their home.

Love of community

House concerts are a powerful way to unite friends and build community. They enhance friendships, foster new ones, and create sublime moments that allow us to weave our memories together. House concert hosts often become tastemakers in their community, and even inspire music scenes to develop in their town. Neighbors and friends rediscover their love the arts and start to divorce their televisions a few times per week.

Love of entertaining

Despite the multiplex-sized television screens in people’s homes, very few people actually entertain in their home on a regular basis. It seems like the dinner party is a myth of the wealthy past. House concerts provide an inspiring reason to clean the house and make good use of the sprawling spaces we inhabit. Consider the fact that many apartments today are bigger than the homes of just a few generations ago. Did your grandparents have a guest room? Probably not.

Love of a cause

One of the novel applications of house concerts is to honor and support a cause. Many fundraising events require large teams of volunteers, whereas a monthly house concert series can be organized by one or two people. Furthermore, artists typically have affinity for several causes, and often have a song related to those causes. Imagine a wonderful artist inspiring your audience with a personal story or song that is on-message for your favorite charity.

Being the change you want to see in the world.

One of the best ways for artists to create house concert opportunities where they live is to start their own series. The generous act of shining the light on someone else can be the catalyst for others to start hosting. With a healthy house concert scene, that artist may find their own opportunities to play at someone else’s home.

Building an audience to fulfill your dream of owning a commercial venue.

We’ve seen house concerts graduate to promoting bigger events in their town, and some eventually open their own commercial venue. Starting any new business involves risk, but the entertainment venue is especially risky. Wouldn’t it make sense to build an audience and a great reputation before creating the massive overhead (rent, employees, licenses, etc.) of a commercial venue?

The list of potential reasons to host house concerts could certainly go on, but these are some of the most common ones. Most of us can relate to more than one, and that provides a strong enough “why” to do the work of putting on the first few events. After a few great shows, your own list will certainly grow.

House Concerts and the PROs

House Concerts:

To the extent that they are private events in people’s homes, PROs should have no standing to collect at house concerts. However, some house concerts are very public with their promotion and have no filter or introduction process before issuing invitations to people they don’t know. This opens the door for PROs to claim the events are not private and therefore subject to licenses. We recommend that hosts start small and grow their audience responsibly over time so that they don’t have to do public promotion. Friends, neighbors, and friends of friends are the place to start. In the excerpt below, notice that the “broadcast” of a performance (live or recorded) via the internet can also be a problem for house concerts.

Copyright Law

To perform or display a work “publicly” means—

(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

— from http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

Notice the bolded text above and compare it to the language on a PRO site. Notice how the PROs omit “and it’s social acquaintances?”

Q: What is a public performance of music and what is the “Performing Right”?

A “public performance” of music is defined in the U.S. copyright law to include any music played outside a normal circle of friends and family.

— from http://www.bmi.com/licensing/#faqs

See Also:

http://www.ascap.com/licensing

https://www.sesac.com/Licensing/General.aspx

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and venues

I have hosted many concerts in my home through CIYH, and now own a small cafe in AZ where we host musicians about once a month. These are paid gigs for the musicians, so a different model than what CIYH. I was recently (and rather persistently) contacted by BMI insisting that we pay a BMI licensing fee and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about this if we are exclusively hosting all original music. Thanks in advance for your insight. D. Atkins

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) exist in most all developed countries, and the United States is the only country that has three of them – ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. In the UK it’s PRS, in Canada it’s SOCAN, and so on… they each have their own rules for collections and payments, but the underlying purpose is to allow owners and writers of music to be compensated for the use of their music.

In the U.S., licensing via PROs (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC) is a complicated issue. There are a few things at play. Congress has given these organizations a mandate (law) to collect for the PUBLIC performance of music registered by with them. Almost all professional songwriters and publishers register their works so that they can be compensated for the use of their songs and recordings.

1. This applies to playing recorded music in a public setting. The radio/records playing in the customer area of a restaurant, for example, mean that PROs are allowed to license and collect from these venues, even if no live music is played.
2. It also applies to live music in a public setting.

Since most venues have both live and recorded music, the typical license is called a “blanket license” to cover everything, and they usually start around $300 per year, for each PRO. Few venues are pro-active about negotiating the fees and paying, but eventually at least two of the three organizations find them and ask for a license.

The formula’s vary, and are a bit negotiable. Basically, it’s based on square footage and frequency of events, with some other variables. There are also “per use” licenses, for a one-day festival, for example. The responsibility to pay the license is always with the venue, not the performers.

Challenges:

Public venues can’t just claim that only original music is played there. If you have a strict policy of not just “no covers” and no “Happy Birthday”, but also “no co-written songs”, you might be able to convince them not to license you… but you can bet they will test you, and if one of your performers slips up on the wrong night, they’ll likely come after you more strongly the next time. Plus, if you have recorded music playing during non-performance hours, there’s probably even less wiggle room.

Our recommendation:

Negotiate a deal you can afford. If you are not a strong negotiator, have someone experienced (friendly attorney, fellow music professional, etc.) do it for you. As of this writing $300-400 per year (per organization = X3) seems to be the rate for small coffeehouses. No one likes to pay the water bill either, but it is a legitimate business expense, and the water company doesn’t care if your business is making a profit. Neither will the PROs.

House Concerts:

To the extent that they are private events in people’s homes, PROs should have no standing to collect at house concerts. However, some house concerts are very public with their promotion and have no filter or introduction process before issuing invitations to people they don’t know. This opens the door for PROs to claim the events are not private and therefore subject to licenses. We recommend that hosts start small and grow their audience responsibly over time so that they don’t have to do public promotion. Friends, neighbors, and friends of friends are the place to start. In the excerpt below, notice that the “broadcast” of a performance (live or recorded) via the internet can also be a problem for house concerts.

Copyright Law

To perform or display a work “publicly” means—

(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

— http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

Notice the bolded text above and compare it to the language on a PRO site. Notice how the PROs omit “and it’s social acquaintances?”

Q: What is a public performance of music and what is the “Performing Right”?

 

A “public performance” of music is defined in the U.S. copyright law to include any music played outside a normal circle of friends and family.

— http://www.bmi.com/licensing/#faqs

When your artist cancels the show.

The world of touring is unpredictable. Artists, hosts and agents have many opportunities to make scheduling mistakes that get discovered days or hours before the show. Performers can have missed or canceled flights, driving delays and breakdowns.

As a sharp host, you don’t want your promotional efforts to go to waste when these things happen… so what can you do to prepare for late cancelations?

  1. Have a list of great local artists who would be delighted to play a show on short notice.
  2. Have your mailing list and guest list up-to-date so you can announce a last minute change of program.
  3. Be prepared to scale down the show due to the changes. Fewer chairs, less food, etc.

A local act can even work if your main act is 2 hours late but still wants to play. For example, the local act might set up on the patio to play a set, allowing the act to set up undistracted inside when they arrive. Guests who can’t stay late can still have a great show. The opening act might receive a flat donation from the host, in exchange for the opportunity to connect and sell CDs.

This kind of preparation doesn’t take much effort, and can turn a potential disappointment into a surprisingly fun event. If you need help finding great talent in your area, visit http://www.ListeningRoomNetwork.com and click on Artists.

Hosts: What is your backup plan?

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The show must go on… so, do you have a back up plan?

You broke your foot. You live alone, and there’s no way you can prep the house and host a show that’s coming up in ten days. What do you do?

One of the most heartbreaking parts of touring is the canceled show. One broken concert date can dramatically change the finances of a tour. Fuel, food, and lodging expenses pressure artists to work every day on the road, and canceled shows often put artists at a loss for the whole trip.

Sometimes it can be challenging for a host to keep their promise of a show. Illness, injury, weather, work emergencies, and death in the family are just some of the events that can put a house concert in jeopardy. Create your backup plan in advance and avoid letting down your artists and audience.

Let’s come up with a backup host and venue.

The easiest way to solve both problems is to turn your house concert series into a partnership, with you as the leader. Some of our most successful house concert series are partnerships of two or three couples, who take turns hosting the group effort in their homes. This is the first and best example of a back-up plan. If something happens to one host, the event is moved, guests are notified, and another couple takes up the responsibility that night.

Another way to enlist a backup host is to have a friend/volunteer to stand in for you at your place. Obviously, they would have to be well-acquainted with your home/space and the responsibilities of hosting – so it’s best to groom your backup host by having them volunteer at your events for a while.

Outside-In or another space.

If you prefer to have your shows outside and uncovered, it is critical to have an indoor option in case of bad weather. If your show is scheduled for the backyard, get a sense of how you could have the show inside – even if it means the audience has to be considerably smaller. If there’s no way to host inside, ask if any of your neighbors or nearby friends would be willing to be the backup venue. Also, is there a local restaurant, club, or cafe that could take on the show you’ve organized?

Backup Lodging – if you’ve offered a guest room to your artist, be sure that your plans include a replacement room if necessary.

Canceling still requires a backup plan.

Granted, there is such a thing as “enough notice” to cancel. But if you find yourself wanting to cancel a show less than 8 weeks ahead of time, it’s almost certain that you will impose a significant loss to your scheduled artist.

It’s also possible your artist could be O.K. with canceling if you are willing to reschedule. Maybe they need rest and could use a night off, or would rather not play a show that is significantly different than they expected.

Call your artist or their agent and have a conversation about the situation, and see if they are OK with your backup plan or if they have another idea or option. You’ll want to confirm the change of plans by email, but it’s easier to be creative and collaborative on the phone.

Some hosts go to extraordinary lengths in the spirit of “the show must go on,” and they get a great sense of pride from honoring their commitment through adversity. We’ve seen hosts follow through when their house flooded, and one stayed committed for a show that was the day before his father’s funeral. Still, some shows get canceled, but there are ways to avoid or minimize some of the pain.

Offering and honoring a financial guarantee

For some hosts a financial guarantee is the simplest and easiest way to minimize the losses to the artist. Many hosts offer a minimum guarantee when they book a concert. That way, the artist can confidently take on the expenses of travel, knowing that no matter the attendance or circumstances, they’ll make enough money to cover their expenses.

The opportunity here is to decide on a guarantee in case of cancelation. For example, if the guarantee for the show is $500, you would offer $250 if the show is canceled less than 8 weeks out. Few artists take the time to ask for this, it’s a great sign of respect for a host to offer a cancelation fee, even if it’s only $50-100. This small token along with a rescheduled concert date can make a big difference.

TenTen Concert format makes it easier to recruit help.

Finally, it’s important to remind ourselves that house concerts don’t have to be big to be fruitful. Even someone with a small home can become a host, if they can get 10 or more people to attend on weeknights. Read about TenTen Concerts.

Your backup plan is an opportunity to get new friends involved with music, and possibly make them fall in love with house concerts too. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to improve people’s lives. Give them the opportunity to volunteer – as a partner host or a backup volunteer!

A backup plan can help secure your legacy as a great house concert host. Sit down and brainstorm ways you can prevent unexpected problems. Hopefully you’ll never need it. But the benefits of creating partners and volunteers will make your concerts more enjoyable, and the peace of mind your plan offers will make the effort worthwhile.

Download our free house concert guide at ConcertsInYourHome.com.

What if your artist cancels the show?

Kick out the rut of house concert promotion

When was the last time you tried something new? Pick one of these for your next concert.

1. Make a list of 10 people you have never invited to your house concerts. Engage them in a conversation via Facebook, email, or (gasp!) even the phone. Start with “how are things?” and move to with “have you heard about my house concerts?” and finish with “would you like front row seats at my next show?”

2. Dig deeper on your artist and share. Get beyond the webflyer with links. What are the two most interesting things about your artist’s story? Is there a lyric or a verse that particularly moves you? Is there a new video to discover and share with your friends? Give people context… why is this artist special to you and potentially special to them?

3. Call 5 people with a personal appeal. Use your house concert series to make yourself genuinely friendlier all month long. Choose a few friends each month to check in on, catch up, and show genuine interest in them. And of course, remind them about your special hobby and your special event coming up.

You are special.

Your artists are special.

Your friends and attendees are special.

We just need to be personally reminded from time to time.