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!
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.
- Hosts, the ones who do the booking, have an important voice in shaping the artist membership. This helps create more bookings.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- be private events, not open to the public
- give 100% of door to the artists. Door is a suggested donation, not a charge/ticket.
- (OK should) be in a house, clubhouse or residential looking space.
- be public or private
- charge an admission fee or sell advance tickets
- keep a percentage
- be located just about anywhere, but probably not a house.
Even the most experienced pilots have a checklist they use to make sure they take all necessary steps for a safe trip. The checklist not only makes clear what needs to be done, but also describes the best order or timing for effectiveness and efficiency. Use this checklist to save yourself time and to help your house concert series take off!
[PS – this is a first draft, to be revised for Fran Snyder’s upcoming book on house concerts. Send suggestions for improvement to email@example.com
House Concert Checklist for Hosts
- Are there other house concerts or events that compete with your proposed/tentative date? Sports playoffs, music festivals, birthdays, holidays, spring breaks, etc.
- Format – TenTen, traditional – which is best house concert format for this day of the week, this artist/act, and your schedule?
- Suggested donation, lodging, meal, guarantee, cancelation – all terms agreed?
- Confirmation Email sent? Address, Numbers, Arrival Time Window, Lodging, Pets, etc.
- Food and Smoking Allergies?
- Optional Info to Include: 1. Local resources: nearby restaurants, grocery and music stores 2. Regional resources: music venues/contacts that might help them find other concerts.
- Use date and day, choose time to open doors and show time.
- Food and beverage… basic plan and suggestion for invitees.
- Webflyer and email look great? Spell check? test send and proofread twice. (resources?)
- Mailing list updated? (Bounced emails and notes from last time?)
Volunteers and backup plans
- Do you have at least one volunteer to help with the door, setup, food/beverage, etc, so that you can be a gracious host?
- Do you have a plan for what to do if the weather goes bad or if you get horrendously ill?
- Update and increase mailing list
- Schedule invitation emails… 4 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week.
- Send confirmation emails with address as guests RSVP.
- Send 3 day reminder to RSVP list.
- Waiting list needed?
- Additional efforts if needed to fill room – charity, VIPs
Setting Up, Day(s) Before
- Basic cleaning inside and out… think safety and visibility from the road.
- Print signage (donation, entry, food, etc.)
- Confirm artist arrival time, dinner plans, sound system, extension cord?
Setting Up, Day of Show
- Spruce up cleaning if necessary.
- Donations Jar with Sign
- Guest List Printed
- Green room
- Concert room
- Merch Table
- Kitchen/Food area
- Keep back row handy but not set up (or reserved)
- Where to load in, park, put merch and gear?
- Where to relax and warm up?
- Snacks or beverages?
- Outlets/extension available?
- Expectations of access – is artist expected to mingle before the show? (some like this, some don’t, timing is also issue)
- Volunteer/greeter in place
- Encourage folks to pick their seats, especially down front.
- Give 5-10 minute warning for everyone to use restrooms and find their seats.
- Take the stage and welcome folks.
- Make short announcements.
- Describe format… encourage folks to stay in their seats during the show. Try to wait for a break or the end of the show.
- Introduce artist. Short, warm, personal.
- Praise artist, encourage CD/merch purchases.
- Remind about suggested donations if any were missed.
- Check restrooms if possible.
- Give 5 minute warning
- Announce beginning of next set. Please welcome back…name!
- Rave about show.
- Encourage CD sales
- Check for over-drinkers
- Settle up with artist money… donations on-target?
Thank you email, promo next show.
Again, your feedback is welcome!
Performers are public figures, so their websites and email lists are for public promotion. If your concert is listed on their website, it can be considered a public event. [We’ve seen a house concert shut down by local government for this. Officials claimed it was a public event because it was listed on the artist’s website, with the host’s email address. Many artists/agents are unaware of this and they will list your info on their website unless you tell them not to.]
Hosts find it tempting to encourage artists help fill seats. Artists are often happy to help (if they can) by emailing their fans in the area, because that can create a bigger show and increase donations. The challenge is they don’t personally know most people on their list, and inviting unknown fans to your home poses TWO types of risks – 1. making your event public, and 2. having un-vetted strangers in your home.
It’s important to take a sober look at the risks you take when you have any gathering in your home. People can damage items, steal, or even fall and hurt themselves. These problems are rare and could even be trivial. But there is always a chance it could be serious. That’s why we advocate for the safest practices, and encourage you to personally connect (online, by phone, or even in person) with people before you invite them in your home.
Can performers help at all?
Here’s what we recommend:
If the artist wants to list your house concert on their website, tell them to list it like this:
Notice that the host’s email address, phone number, or street address are not publicly listed. The reader would have to use the email form on the artist website to ask for an introduction.
Now, the artist can vet (approve) the fan and introduce them to you, the host, like this:
Of course, the decision to invite Ben is up to you. Friending him on Facebook or exchanging a few emails begins a relationship that takes it beyond “someone who just asked if they could come.” You’ve been introduced (by the band) and you’ve communicated, and you’ve added them to your guest list.
Again, there’s no case law on this, but doesn’t this sound safer than having musicians invite every local bar patron they’ve played for?
This is an excerpt from the new house concert guide from Fran Snyder and ConcertsInYourHome.com – subscribe to this blog or to our monthly newsletter to be notified when the guide is published.
We’re delighted to announce a special rate with Staybridge Suites, our hotel partner for the Listening Room Festival, April 19-23rd.
First, the amenities:
- Super-clean, new property three minutes from city center.
- Free Parking
- Free Internet
- Free Shuttle
- Free Breakfast
- Free Cocktail Hour
Staybridge Suites is offering us special rates:
- King Studio Suites $139
- Double Bed Studio Studio Suites $149
Book your hotel now to get our special rate. The group discount code: LRF
or call 855-914-1821 and mention the “Listening Room Festival ”