Promoting Your House Concerts to People You Don’t Know

At ConcertsInYourHome we advocate for the safest practices, to protect the host and everyone in their home. The safest audience is a small one, exclusively with people you know well. Of course, that often runs contrary to your attendance goals. Below I’ll describe the safest ways we’ve found to grow your audience. Use these strategies to grow your mailing list – one that is full of people you trust to treat your home and your artists with respect.

You should consult with your attorney for legal advice. There is very little case law on house concerts, and zoning, permits and laws vary from city to city. Advice from ConcertsInYourHome is based on 10+ years of experience, to help hosts think about the pitfalls of inviting strangers into your home, and to explore creative solutions for those who want to quickly expand their audience and circle of friends.

Private vs. Public Events

For your safety, do not treat your home like a public venue.

Public venues need:

  • Business insurance
  • Zoning permits
  • Performing rights licenses

As a house concert host, you’ll invite friends, neighbors, co-workers, friends of friends… everyone in your home should be connected to you in some way. You’ll create a mailing list with these people, and expand the list with people you meet in person or online. For every show, you’ll make an RSVP list, which you will keep at the door for when your guests arrive.

The basics of safely growing your house concert mailing list.

Meet people ->  Invite them to join your mailing list

Getting started:

  • Create a mailing list of everyone you know
  • Encourage them to bring friends to your events, and invite these new friends to join your mailing list.
  • Be social in person and online and talk to people about your house concerts, get their email addresses if they’d like an invitation.

Now let’s cover how to safely promote your shows, how that applies to social media, and websites, and how you should limit promotion by your performers.

Facebook

Let’s cover a few principles, as they pertain to Facebook, and you can use the same logic to make your best judgement about other Social Media.

A few principles: Social media can be public OR private, based on the website you use and how you use them. For example:

As of May 2016, you can set your Facebook profile in several ways:

  • Public (anyone off or on Facebook can see it)
  • Friends (only your Facebook friends can see it)
  • Only Me (like a personal scrapbook)
  • Custom

Even individual posts and Facebook events can have their own privacy settings, so it’s a matter of choosing the best option for you. The important thing is to not choose Public when promoting a private event.

Meetup.com and Next Door App.

Whatever social media and apps that you use to grow your network, the same principles apply. It’s important to have a social exchange before inviting new people into your home.

How to have social exchanges before inviting them to a show:

  • Email – not just “here’s the address” but “what do you do?” and “have you been to a house concert before?” and “what are some of your favorite acts?”
  • Facebook friendship: you can learn a lot about someone this way, and maybe even create genuine friendships.
  • Coffee – safe and easy way to go beyond emails
  • Networking group – most social groups you belong to are a good source of people you can introduce to your house concerts.
  • ConcertsInYourHome and LRN – meeting other hosts in your region, and attending concerts at public listening rooms is another great way to meet like-minded people.
  • Introductions by friends – encourage your friends to talk about your concerts.
  • ConcertsInYourHome card – same size as a business card that you carry with you. “I host concerts in my home. If you’d like to be invited to one of my exclusive shows, send me an email at …. “

Performers

Performers by default are public figures, and that makes their websites and email list a public promotion. If your concert is listed on their website, it can be considered a public event. [This is a fact. Authorities have acted on information from artist websites, and most artists are unaware of this – they will list your info on their website unless you tell them not to.]

First, it is very common and tempting for hosts to want to have 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 earn more money. 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 complete 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.

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:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 10.38.46 AM

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 artists can vet (approve) the fan and introduce them to you the host, like this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 10.42.56 AM

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 bar patron they’ve played for?

Keeping Your People

One of the most important things you can do is put on great events. That includes booking great acts, but also adding your personal touch to make people feel welcome and wonderful in your home. Not everyone will come back. Some will be hooked. The majority of people, however, will make their decision to return based on the quality of the experience, and their confidence that they will have a great time – every time.

If you can keep people coming back, and inspire them to invite new friends, you won’t have to work very hard to grow your mailing list.

Setting the Right Expectations with Your Artists

It is important to make sure your act does not have expectations that are hard for you to deliver. If you offer your artists a financial guarantee that you are comfortable with, that can make things less stressful for both of you. But often, hosts set an audience target that is unrealistic and wind up disappointing themselves and the artist. Even if you think you can get 35 people, there’s no reason to make the artist expect that. Understate your numbers so that you can pleasantly surprise the artist. Otherwise you risk letting them down.

Grow Your Mailing List, and Keep Your Events Safe

Public venues are specifically designed and operated to deal with the public, and the responsibilities associated with dealing with strangers. Insurance, trained staff, observance of fire codes, and proper licensing are all required.

Don’t pretend that your home is a proper place for public events. There is no sin in having small events that are a good fit for your home and friends, as long as you are clear with your performers about the opportunity you offer. Through ConcertsInYourHome and beyond, you will find amazing artists who need house concerts to establish or enhance their fanbase in your city or town. If you can work with their schedule, and provide perks like lodging, food, and a respectful audience, you’ll find that many will appreciate your efforts and leave you and your audience delighted.

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