The Big Picture at CIYH and LRN

This video/message has held up remarkably well over the past few years. It’s the intro video that our artists see right after joining. It was done before we came up with TenTen Concerts, so it leans a bit heavily on DinnerAndSong. Other than that, I think it’s a great message for our artists, as well as our hosts who want a peek at the big picture.

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The importance of video (reprise)

 

As I’ve said before, when a host is trying to decide who they want to volunteer to host (volunteer = work for no pay), they need to be impressed, comforted, and confident about their choice. The number one place they seek that is the first video in your CIYH profile (or wherever you send them.)

I thought I would ask our community of hosts directly… what is the first thing you look for/at when an artist sends an email about playing your series? Have a look at the responses — two thirds go “straight to video.”

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Recently, one of our member artists inquired if I could give her ideas about why she wasn’t connecting with hosts on our site. What do you think I did?

I went to her profile and looked at her first video. She’s talented, and the video is well-shot, but it’s not her best song and the groove just feels off. More importantly, it’s not her best video, but it’s the one she has used since she joined. She has never experimented or updated her profile to see if she might get different results.

Are you using YOUR favorite video, or the one that impresses OTHER people? Experiment, try something new, see what happens. Artists need to grow and try new things… but none of that matters if you don’t share it.

Choosing the right video, one that you might already have, can make a huge difference in your booking results. Imagine 10% more gigs… that could be thousands of dollars in a year’s time.

Thousands of dollars. It’s worth trying and testing something new.

Music, Family, and Grieving

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One of our hosts suffered a tragic loss this week – the loss of a child. Attending the funeral reminded me of some important things. First, that we (CIYH & LRN) are a community. Though we may not all share the same time and space, we are connected by our love of music.

I was reminded with hugs, with the selection of music, and with passionate words that music can be the thread that holds when it feels like our lives are unraveling. Carrie, the host, was unable to enjoy music for several days after the loss of her son. Then Woody Russell called, and reminded her that music is people, that music is love, and music is healing. They met because of house concerts. Then Carrie deliberately chose a song from Leslie Ellis to play during the service, because of the message, the memories, and the feelings from the house concert in June.

The funeral service was attended by a full room of friends and family. Many of these friendships were initiated or strengthened by the sharing of music in Carrie’s home. It was something to see and feel.

Music cannot replace what we lose. Music though, can hold us firmly in it’s rhythm, it can carry us with it’s sweet melodies, and it can anchor the words we hold most precious. Music will not be lost.

Thank you Carrie for letting me share this story, and for being part of our community.

Opening Acts – Up or Out?

“Up or Out” is a phrase that Bob Hillman uses in this story, to describe the potential philosophy of paying openers poorly. “Move up or move out” means that you aren’t supposed to make a living wage as an opener… get better, get lucky, or get out of the business. It’s both brutal and practical.

And then there are the romantic stories (thanks Shawn Mullins) of acts like the Indigo Girls who pay openers a living wage, share their massive audience with them, and treat them like family. Maybe that’s all part of moving up… to better opening slots.

It is possible make a music living without drawing a size-able audience in multiple markets. House concerts certainly enable that, and many more acts achieve it by becoming more entertainer (playing whatever, however) than artist.

We all create our own story, but I found Bob’s enlightening. I recommend reading the rest of it here.

 

 

$5 Discount if you check your phone at the door.

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My girlfriend runs a community acupuncture clinic. One of her biggest challenges is not putting pins into people’s bodies. It’s getting them to put away their phones during the treatment.

I have a similar challenge with phones. Is it possible to go to a concert without having the view eclipsed by phones… all night long? First, a few insults;

You:

  • are a terrible photographer
  • are even worse at video (horizontal, please)
  • are not missed because you are unavailable for 90 minutes
  • are never going to have your existential loneliness satisfied by a post, tweet, like, or share. If your life sucks, then the least you can do is enjoy the music.

Put the phone away. I’ll give you five bucks if I have to.

</rant>

LRN/Kickstarter Message for our Artists

Nobody is complaining.

Except me.

Yes, once in a while, I’ll get a suggestion about adding this feature or that one, but in essence, this is a pretty sweet gig. The hosts and venues are kind. The artists are kind. And things just roll along without much drama.

But over here?

  • I want you to get more gigs.
  • I want you to be able to upload and change up your profile more easily.
  • I want a built-in fanbase to attend the house concerts you play.
  • I want a beautiful (totally new) website that works on your phone as well as on your desktop.
  • I want more people discovering your music, whether they can book you or not.
  • I want more people funding your campaigns and becoming part of your career.

I have plans for all this, but artist memberships alone can’t fund all this work.

So in September, we are launching our first ever Kickstarter Campaign, to rebuild Listening Room Network and expand all the great stuff happening with ConcertsInYourHome.com.

Shortly after that, we’ll be asking our hosts to contribute on an annual basis, based on the added value that our network and new booking/networking tools will create for them.

The new website is for you. It’s for our hosts and venues – so they can help you. It’s for me too, because someday I want my legacy of work to be undeniably positive.

I’m saying thank you in advance. I hope you’ll share our expanded vision with your own network of friends. Stay tuned. Kickstarter. This September.

Is the Value of Your Music Judged by Alcohol Sales?

live_ music_and_drink_specialsA friend posted an article about how venues should pay, promote, and feed the artists who play there. It’s a bit of a rant about being asked to “play for exposure.” I know, people die of exposure.

The article is a dig at venue owners and managers, but I think it misses the underlying point. Venues (bars, clubs) are dealing with supply and demand and a terrible business model for listening rooms — get the audience drunk or you don’t make money.

Repeat after me: There is nothing wrong with owning a bar and having live music, and doing the best you can to survive, and allowing artists of all levels to enjoy your space and occasionally make a little money.

But if you want a better deal than that, e.g. a livable wage, venue-inspired promotion, etc., you have to approach venues with what makes sense to them… at least a certain number of attendees who will drink. If that’s not a fit for you, then embrace the alternatives. (House concerts, et al.)

You aren’t going to change the economics of bars unless you become a ticket-selling wonder. Don’t waste your breath trying to change a club-owner’s mind about how they should run their business or book their acts. Their own survival comes first. If it doesn’t, you’ll soon be complaining about a lack of places to play.

In short, don’t try to sell to people who aren’t buying.

 

Event Insurance for House Concerts

donation boxGreat to hear from you. The typical questions we get about insurance have to do with liability e.g. if someone slips and falls on your property.  I’ve never had someone ask about insurance that would be specifically about recouping damage to the home itself.

 

We have always discouraged hosts from keeping a percentage of donations, for a couple of reasons. One, to protect the culture of house concerts, which are an act of generosity. Enabling hosts to “cover expenses” is a slippery slope to acting like a commercial venue. We believe that house concert expenses are voluntary – you don’t have to provide booze, sound system, and catering… you can potluck, byob, and have artists bring what they need.

 

The second reason is legal. While there’s no case law on the matter*, we believe a host is on much firmer ground if 100% of donations go the artist. Anything else could suggest commercial activity in the home – which can violate homeowner’s insurance, zoning, and more.

 

Event insurance can range from $60-600 per event, and it’s fairly easy to shop around online for it. Here’s one. https://www.theeventhelper.com/
Hope this helps!
Fran

 

On Wed, Jun 21, 2017 at 12:35 PM, Beth Fizell-Jenkins wrote:
Begin forwarded message:

I’ve been working with a friend to do some house concerts at her home. She had a problem with the last show we did – she had a faulty faucet that someone accidentaly left on, and the sink overflowed and caused about $10K worth of damage to her house. Unfortunately she had an issue with her homeowners – didn’t realize that her deductible was outrageously high, but she just renegotiated and now it’s just $1000 which is much more reasonable.

She’d like to continue doing concerts, but she wants to make sure she’s protected, and she doesn’t want to pay out of pocket for supplies. Is there any kind of protocol – any way to get affordable insurance for the shows? Alternatively, I was thinking the host takes like 5 or 10% from the door of each show to fund an escrow account that the host can use to cover supplies, to cover damage or insurance, or to help pay expenses related to the concert series, that aren’t necessarily directly related to that night’s performance. Do you know anybody doing something like that?

When I ran shows, we always just paid the expenses out of pocket, but she’s a little concerned, and after the water damage issue she’s even more concerned. Wanted to get your thoughts on it.

Thanks,
B.

House Concert Picture Hunt!

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Do you have a concert photo that shows the warmth and appeal of house concerts? Does it have these basic qualities?
  • Good lighting
  • Smiles
  • Closeness

We want to show the joy of house concerts through our growing worldwide community. Over the next few weeks, we’ll like, love, and share your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if they include the following two tags: #CIYH #HCpic

For our favorite pics, we may also offer you a social media shoutout and $5 for a fancy coffee or whatever! Upload, tag and share… as many photos as you like. Promotion ends June 30.

Thanks for being part of it! — Fran Snyder

Photo etiquette: Don’t make your camera annoying to people behind you! Sit near the back if you want to take pictures.

Artists: The Power of Listing Your Avails

Every month, we look at the stats from our monthly newsletter, to see what is of most interest to our 6000 subscribers. And every month one of the most clicked links is our “avails button.” In the section where we list our new and renewing artists, there’s a blue button that says “who is looking to tour in your area?”

Are you showing up in these pages where people are looking?

Avails in Newsletter

Section of our monthly newsletter

 

Over the past six years, we’ve continued to create more activity around avails, so how exactly to they work?

  1. Artists login to their profile, and go to their Avails tab. There are five avails* that allow you to list key states, provinces or countries that you are looking to play. For example, you could select FL, GA, and SC (3 states), the key month/date, and add a short phrase to describe what you are looking for, like “Playing southeast this fall, looking for Atlanta show in mid Oct.”
  2. This (and your other 4 avails) will show up in several places at CIYH and LRN – your artist profile, and the avails pages for each state, province or country that you list.

Then what?

The avails pages (one for each state, province, and country) list avails by month, which makes it easy for someone to find artists looking to play in their region on a particular month. On that page, they’ll see your picture, sample track, and a link to your full page profile, which also has a button for them to contact you.

Who sees the avails?

New hosts and venues: Many new hosts and venues are curious about the artists in our network, especially if they aren’t deeply connected to their local or regional scene.

Pro-active hosts and venues: There are a number of hosts who like to see their options rather than waiting for individual artists to find them and reach out.

Bookers outside our network: Since the avails are publicly viewable, artists sometimes get inquiries from outside our membership.

Login and make sure your avails are up to date.

Many pages on the website guide users to have a look at avails, and if you aren’t listing yours, you are likely to be missing some opportunities. Avails are a great way to make the site work for you when you are away from your computer. Use them.

 

*all artists are given 5 updatable avails with their membership. More can be purchased for acts who want to appear in more places on the site.