Your Invitation List – Let’s Get it Started

This is part of a how-to-series from ConcertsInYourHome.com, written by Fran Snyder

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Basics:

One of the first steps to take as a house concert host is to gather a useful list of as many invitees as possible.

Attendance, for many hosts, is the most challenging part of hosting house concerts. For some hosts, throwing a party and getting people to attend is second-nature. They have tons of acquaintances, are involved with many clubs, groups, charities and maybe even a reputation for holding great events. For most of us, however, it takes a bit of work and and some planning.

A full room adds so much to the feeling of a concert – whether that number is 15 or 1500.  Performers really sense and feed off the energy in a room when they play. Empty seats, however, suck the energy out of any event.

There's a common expression in music – "the crowd made the show," and you'll see it happen first-hand when you host your events.

Consider:

First, it's important to get some leverage. If you think purely in terms of people you see consistently and know personally, you will seriously limit your resources.

Second, don't neglect to invite someone simply because you don't think they'll be into it. It's so much fun when you see someone "converted." Time and time again the biggest compliments come from people who begrudgingly attended – thinking it wasn't their kind of thing, who then were blown away by the quality and fun-factor of the show. You'll provide information, and links to the music, and let people decide for themselves.

Finally, your invitation list will always be a work in progress. You'll also create a nice form to display at each of your events to enlist anyone who may have come as an invitee of one of your friends. As your list grows, your events will become easier to promote.


Options: FlyerSnapshot


Most house concert presenters use their email programs to create a list from their address books, and use our free, attractive flyers to promote their events.
However, in addition to your current email program, there are many websites and programs that can help you do this:

  • eVite – free, though it requires your invitees to register with the site when making an RSVP.
  • Socializr – free, though it requires your invitees to register with the site when making an RSVP. 
  • ectoRes – free, simple, and with a few nice features designed for house concert presenters.
  • Constant Contact – feature-filled website which allows you to send attractive HTML emails, but costs $15-30/month

Tips:

  1. Create a list of everyone you know within an hour's drive of your home. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, club members, parents of your kids friends, fellow soccer-moms, the fantasy-football buddies (ok, maybe?), etc.
  2. Gather any missing email addresses (and phone numbers if you like.)
  3. Keep a notepad, index card, or some visual reminder with you for the next 3 weeks. Get in the habit of adding people you meet, or have overlooked in your invite list. You'll be amazed at how many people you meet or bump into on a day to day basis that escaped your mind when you made the initial list. "I'm hosting a music event soon, and I'd like to invite you, can I get your email address?"
  4. Warm them up. Before you even book (or announce the performer) try sending an email like this:

Dear Friends, (mail merge the first names if you can)

Have you heard of house concerts? There is so much great talent out there, and these events look like so much fun, that I've decided to jump in and host a concert in my home. Have a look at this short video, and let me know if you'd be interested in coming to our first event. More details soon!

http://concertsinyourhome.com/beahostintro.html

Your pal,

….

This short email will peak their interest, and the early responders will be good candidates to enlist for help. One or more of them can help you set up chairs, manage the potluck, or even help promote the event with you. Then, when you do send out the actual invitation email (with details) you won't be starting from scratch.

Related Articles:

How to Build an Audience for your House Concert
Find Nearby Hosts
Mini House Concerts

House Concert Guide: Choosing a Location

SligoRagsAtRuss&Julies
This is part of a how-to-series from ConcertsInYourHome.com, written by Fran Snyder

Basics:

Although similar results can be achieved in different locations, a house concert takes place at a house. When the weather turns seasonally ideal, some hosts do patio, garden, backyard shows, but you always need a backup (inside) in case the weather doesn't cooperate. Indoors, the living room is usually the best choice, often providing a balance between cozy and the opportunity to stretch into an adjoining area. A window or fireplace can make a nice background scene for the performer.

Consider:

You'll most likely need to re-arrange some furniture, like removing coffee tables and pushing the couches to the side of the room. You'll most likely use every chair in the house (dining room chairs, bar stools, ottomans, office chairs, etc.) Your neighbors can be a great resource for free chairs (especially barstools – which make a great back row) as well as audience members. Don't feel obligated to overdo it. You don't have to create Carnegie Hall in your home.

Options:

Ask me about my house concert shirt

We feel there are few spaces more cozy than a living room. However, basements work too. If you live in an apartment or condo, there is often a clubhouse or common area that can be reserved at little or no expense. Some hosts, who aren't satisfied with their space recruit like-minded friends to co-host the shows in their homes. It can be terrific to work with a close friend as a partner in these events.

Tip:

Most people underestimate the number of guests they can comfortably fit in their living room. To get an idea, clear the middle of the room (coffee table, etc.) and move the couches to the side of the room if possible. Then, start arranging available chairs (dining room, kitchen, breakfast nook, office chairs) to get an idea of the number of people it could hold. Once you've set up a few rows, it's easy to imagine how the rest of it would fall into place. Remember to allow a 4' by 6' area for the performer -  more if it's a duo or group.

Choosing the date/day of your House Concert

Calendar

Basics:

If you choose the act first, then you'll need to collaborate with them to choose a date that works with their touring schedule. 

However, if you plan on hosting house concerts on a regular basis, it can be helpful to choose a consistent schedule that makes it easier to plan and build a strong repeat audience. For example, hosting events on the first thursday of every month, except for the winter months. That would give you 8 or 9 shows per year.

Consider:

Doing weekend shows (Saturdays are very popular) makes it easier to draw a larger crowd, and avoid having to pull things together quickly at the end of a long day at work. However, choosing other times (Sunday afternoon, thursday evenings) can give you a great edge for capturing amazing talent when they tour through your area. You will be astonished at the caliber of artists who would be grateful to fill a thursday night show for a modest crowd and a free place to stay. 

Options: 

  1. Find the artists you most want to play, and look at their touring schedules to see when they would most likely be willing to play in your home. Email them with potential dates that would also work for you. 
  2. Join the "weekend circuits" program at CIYH, and we'll help you tie in your concert dates with other hosts in your region. 
  3. Do both!

Tip: 

Be aware of local events and celebrations in your area that could interfere with the audience turnout of your event. Sporting events (especially playoffs) can wreak havoc on concert attendance. It's also very challenging to keep a concert/listening atmosphere if you combine your house concerts with birthday celebrations. It's best (at least until you have an established audience) to keep it about the music. 

Change your mind anytime:

These are guidelines, and there's nothing wrong with trying different methods at different times. It's your house concert series… do it the way you want!

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