Context about our fees for artists.

A host shared with me that he feels we are taking advantage of artists, because our membership rates are too high. I am sharing my response with you. – Fran

Thanks for allowing me to respond.

Our fees can be stressful without the proper context. I don’t expect to change your mind, but I’d love the opportunity to share how we got to where we are. As of early 2017, we charge about $350 per year for artist memberships. Our membership rates allow us to deliver some key benefits.

Value

$350, on average, is what an artist typically makes from a single event (house concert) in our network. We don’t take commissions, so for the artists who book 4-40 shows per year via CIYH, it’s a great deal. I think Rupert Wates booked close to 50 shows last year – about $15,000 worth, and a fantastic return on his investment in our network.

Curation of a Viable Artist Community

Over ten years, we’ve consistently had artists who want to join who are

  1. not serious about touring,
  2. not ready to tour,
  3. not appreciative of the house concert concept and the efforts made by house concert hosts.

We’ve found that a higher price allows us to spend more time with artists who are professional, ready, and who see the value in not just house concerts, but a growing community of them. Also, it limits the number of artists so that our hosts are not overwhelmed with inquiries, and our artists actually have a good shot at getting work through their membership.

Innovation

Progress is slow, but we’ve invested a lot in creating tools for our community to grow. For example, we invested a lot of time and effort in OfficeConcerts.com, in hopes of creating a day-time network of opportunities for our artists, and to reach new listeners in an unconventional way. That effort failed.. as we couldn’t consistently get the “listening room environment” to be valued in an office setting.

What did work is our Listening Room Festival, which has made Florida one of the best places to tour. The Listening Room Network (for public listening rooms and soon, fans) is showing promise as well. Our innovative concepts like DinnerAndSong, DessertAndSong, and TenTen Concerts have created hundreds of additional shows for artists inside and outside of our network.

Sustainability

Over the past ten years, we’ve seen many house concert websites come and go because they couldn’t make enough money to justify the effort and/or hire competent, passionate people to share the load.

As of 2016, no one at CIYH makes more than $17 per hour, and I will be thrilled when we get to a point that working with us could be deemed a career. I’m the only full time person, and I made about $2 per hour during the first few years of working the site. So it’s important to know that artists aren’t the only ones who make sacrifices.

 

I know that $300/400 sounds like a lot without the proper context. But it’s part of what makes us the only music website where there are more gigs than artists. We want to be the best and most helpful resource for small touring acts, and we have to charge a price that allows us to get there.

 

Under Threat – Funding for the Arts

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-7-37-36-pmTwo pillars of our thoughtful and cultural society are at risk of being privatized or eliminated by the Trump administration.

  • The National Endowment for the Arts
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Hope is not the answer anymore.

Please consider calling your Senator and Representative and ask them to protect federal funding for the arts! Also check out the Indivisible guide, written by former Congressional staffers, which outlines some great practical steps and pointers for directly engaging your representatives effectively!

https://www.indivisibleguide.com/download-the-guide

LRN performer challenge #1

lrn_logo_newsquarewhiteImprove the delivery of one verse.

How can you convey more emotion in that verse?

Possibilities include:

  • A facial expression
  • a physical gesture
  • spatial movement – move your body away or toward the mic/audience.
  • a rhythmic stop – on a word, cut a phrase short, or add a staccato finish on the chord.
  • phrasing/diction – are some words difficult for listeners to understand? Melody can sometimes obscure words as much as poor or affected vocalization. “Hip singers” beware, sometimes we can’t understand you!
  • dynamics – sing a word or whole line more softly or loudly
  • a variation in the melody

Experiment in front of a mirror until you’ve found one way to improve the performance of that verse. Try doing this once per week to a song, and feel how your show improves.

Artists Day of Action in support of the Affordable Care Act on January 12, 2017

 

ANNOUNCEMENT

Artists Day of Action in support of the Affordable Care Act on January 12, 201

As a way to highlight the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), we’ve launched the #CoverageMatters social media campaign to encourage people around the country to tell their personal stories about how the Affordable Care Act has benefited them and what ACA means for them and their loved ones.

America now has the lowest uninsured rate on record – below 9 percent – and that’s because of the Affordable Care Act – the tax credits that help people afford coverage, the expansion of Medicaid in most states, and the ability of parents to keep their children on their plans until they’re 26 years old. Meanwhile, everyone’s health care is better, because of no-cost preventive services provided for in the law, like screening tests, contraception and well-woman visits, as well as the elimination of lifetime and annual coverage caps.

All of this progress is now in jeopardy, so as part of the #CoverageMatters campaign, HHS, along with indie rock label Merge Records, the Future of Music Coalition, artists from the Mountain Goats, the Breeders, Lambchop, Spoon, Superchunk, and others, are participating in an Artists Day of Action on January 12.

The Affordable Care Act has helped many musicians and artists pursue their dreams, ideas and passion, instead of looking for a 9-5 job, just because it would offer health insurance. Having artists and musicians share their stories will resonate with the people who care about their music, the people with whom they share an emotional connection.

We are asking artists of all stripes to share on social media why they support the law, what it’s done for them and any personal Affordable Care Act story they or their families and friends may have.

Artists can participate by:

1) Tweeting and sharing your Affordable Care Act story on social media.

An example of a personal health care story could be as simple as tweeting:

  • I’m able to be a full-time musician because of the ACA. #CoverageMatters

Artists can also share stories of people in their life who have benefited from the law, whether that’s a family member who has a pre-existing condition and can no longer be discriminated against by health insurance companies; a friend who had a serious illness and no longer has to worry about lifetime coverage caps; a friend who has gotten coverage because Medicaid was expanded in their state; or someone who was able to stay on their parents health plan until age 26. These are all reforms the Affordable Care Act made possible for the American people.

Additional sample tweets:

  • The #ACA provides me coverage & peace of mind so I can purse my passion for music.#CoverageMatters
  • Coverage keeps me healthy. My music keeps me happy. #ACA made it possible for me to pursue my passion. #CoverageMatters
  • Before the ACA, I constantly worried about getting sick and not being able to perform. Not anymore. #CoverageMatters  
  • I’m pursuing my music knowing I’m covered. #ACA made that possible. #CoverageMatters

2) Share and retweet @HHSgov and @SecBurwell.

HHS will post a video, blog, and other content for Artists Day of Action. We encourage people to repost and share with their followers.

3) Create video or audio content to share on social media.

New and creative content is always good for social media and will help get the word out.

So, mark your calendars for January 12, and tell your story on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #CoverageMatters or visit: HHS.gov/coveragematters

The Most Common Problems with Live Videos (for Booking House Concerts)

ConcertsInYourHome has a robust audition system that requires two live videos from artist applicants. Judges include industry professionals, but the majority are active house concert presenters. These hosts offer specific feedback to the artists regarding the materials presented.

We’ve seen thousands of video evaluations. Here are the most common problems they report to the artists about the videos. Here are the big three that have nothing to do with the songs selected.

  1. Not a listening audience. If you can’t command the respect of the audience in the video, why would we expect anything different when we see you?
  2. Different lineup than advertised. If you are booking yourself for house concerts as a solo act, we might enjoy seeing you with a violin player if we’re digging 5 and 6 videos deep into what you do. But the first two videos MUST be a good representation of what you are bringing to our house. Don’t make people imagine what you’d be like without the full drum kit and backline.
  3. Lip-sync, strum sync – keep it real, even if that means the audio won’t be pristine.

In addition, here are the most common problems with regarding the songs or performances.

  1. Long intro. Usually, the priority is the voice, and artists who strum their 4 chord intro* several times before getting to the vocal will lose the booker’s interest. Remember that people are busy, and your video could be in a long line of potential acts for that concert series. If you tell a story, tell it really well, make a point and be expressive.
  2. Not feeling any emotion – eye contact is often a factor here. You might be staring at lyrics/computer or just trying too hard and getting in your own way.
  3. Pitchy vocals or instruments. We don’t seek perfection in live video, but there are a lot of performances where pitch problems are relentless.
  4. Cover songs – the existing communities of house concert hosts tend to prefer original music, unless they book traditional, celtic, classical, and blues genres. Even though a couple of covers in a show is a welcome treat, it’s usually a mistake to introduce yourself with a video cover tune. Even if you love to play Cohen/Buckley’s “Hallelujah,” it doesn’t mean you play it in a remarkable way.

* Songwriting Tip: The intro to your song shouldn’t be a twenty second warm-up. It should get the same songwriting attention and care as the rest of the song. If the chords are no different than the verse, there better be something magical going on over it. If the intro is there simply out of songwriting habit, if it serves no purpose, get rid of it.

When you submit songs or videos to a judging process, keep in mind that the judges will be listening to many artists in a row. Find a way to get to the essence of your content and sound quickly.

LRN Gigboard

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We are proud to announce the new LRN Gigboard, to better allow artists, venues, and hosts to find opportunities.

Venues (Listening Rooms and House Concerts) have a spot in their profile where they can designate a target month that they would like to book. Until now, these target dates/places could only be found by looking through individual venue profiles on the site. Now, all these opportunities appear on one page – the Gigboard!

Also, artists have a number of avails they can promote in their profiles, listing a region and month along with additional details. These are listed on the avails pages of both sites for venues to find.

Bonus!

The Gigboard now cross-references this data for artists, which makes avails even more powerful than before. While looking through the Gigboard, artists will now see venue entries highlighted if they match an avail. For artists without a lot of time to explore profiles, this is a great way to quickly find opportunities. (List your avails, then visit the gigboard.)

TO DO!

  • Hosts/Venues: Venues can benefit by receiving better-targeted inquiries… no fussing about available dates… if the music is great, you can move forward quickly. For out-of-the way venues who don’t see many prospects, this is a great way to get more artists to reach out to you.
  • Artists/Agents: List your most important avails in your profile, then visit the Gigboard and see if any highlighted entries jump out at you!

A long overdue and heartfelt hat tip to Jeff Robertson, who wanted to see this Gigboard years ago!

$100 Discount for International Artists

We have wonderful house concerts in Canada, Europe, Australia/NZ, but 80% of the activity at ConcertsInYourHome is in the United States. To encourage more activity around the world, we’re offering an artist discount for new members who are based primarily outside the U.S.  Let’s offset those crazy U.S. visa fees, and create more cultural diversity in our global network!
There’s still an evaluation process, but international artists who are invited to join will receive $100 off a full year membership.
Tell someone you love. Coming to America just got a little easier.

Flying with Instruments – U.S. Law is now on your side.

Airlines have a long history of mistreating luggage, and our cherished, vital musical instruments are no exception to the rule. Even after pressure from musician’s unions, youtube videos, and written complaints, things have been slow to improve. Today airlines are at best inconsistent, often negligent, and sometimes downright malicious. (Look out the window as they load luggage when you can.)

The law is now on our side if we want to carry on our instruments, as long as we do the diligence of trying to board early. It’s not full-proof, but we encourage musicians to print this out and keep the law in their instrument case.

Please share this with musicians you love, and board early!

https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-transportation-issues-final-rule-regarding-air-travel-musical

CIYH: Are hosts overwhelmed with artist inquiries?

 

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One of my priorities when I started ConcertsInYourHome, in 2006, was to create a place where hosts could be part of a community, without getting overwhelmed by artist inquiries, like clubs and venues often do.

 

One of the ways we achieved this is by restricting the number of artists in our network. Artists in the network benefit by belonging to the only place on the web where there are more opportunities than artists.

We found the best way to restrict artist membership was first by quality of promotional materials, and second, by cost.

Quality of promotional materials

Artists have to submit videos and a website and be evaluated by hosts in the network. This serves several purposes.

  1. Hosts, the ones who do the booking, have an important voice in shaping the artist membership. This helps create more bookings.
  2. It allows artists to get meaningful feedback about their promotional materials, and prevents them from paying money to join a website where they’ll get few or no bookings. Hosts invest a lot into their events, and if they don’t know the artist personally, the material has to be impressive. Songs, videos, tour history, etc.

Cost

The amount of money someone is willing to spend is a clear indication of how much they value the product or service. In the early days, we found ourselves evaluating artists who had no idea what house concerts were, and no appreciation of what the community has to offer. By gradually increasing the cost of joining, we’ve accomplished a few things.

  1. We’ve attracted better and better artists, who see house concerts not just as gigs, but a meaningful and treasured resource for their art-form and career.
  2. We’ve been able to hire some talented staff to make our community grow and improve, providing an upward cycle of opportunity for our artists.

The cost/investment however, is still low enough to be recouped after just one booking.

Results

Looking at recent activity, we see that hosts receive an average of 2-3 artist requests per month. Of course, some get inquiries from outside sources, but it’s clear that CIYH has accomplished the original goal. Hosts are not overwhelmed, and member artists can book shows without getting lost in a huge pile.

The Difference Between Listening Rooms (LR) and House Concerts (HC)

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We’re proud to re-launch ListeningRoomNetwork.com. LRN allows us to serve listening rooms of all types, in much the same way we’ve inspired and helped house concerts around the world. Also, it allows our member artists to connect with all of them through one platform, instead of bouncing back and forth from CIYH and LRN.
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Which begs the question, at Listening Room Network, what’s the difference between LR venues and house concerts?
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(HC) House concerts must
  1. be private events, not open to the public
  2. give 100% of door to the artists. Door is a suggested donation, not a charge/ticket.
  3. (OK should) be in a house, clubhouse or residential looking space.
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(LR) venues may
  1. be public or private
  2. charge an admission fee or sell advance tickets
  3. keep a percentage
  4. be located just about anywhere, but probably not a house.
It’s important to note that we are not trying to cater to all venues. Our mission is to put talented artists in front of listening audiences, and to help touring musicians earn a living wage. Mileage will vary, but we appreciate your input if you find one of our venues is not a good fit.