About Franman

Singer-songwriter, music entrepreneur, and founder of Listening Room Festival, ConcertsInYourHome, and Listening Room Network

LRFest 2017 – Festival Recap

A Banner Year!

We continued and expanded our yearly celebration of house concerts, setting records for local and travel attendance. 2017 was also a great year for our artists, with each act having a full schedule for the week, and immediate interest for future bookings in our area.

Some Highlights:

  • 500 Attendees at showcase – best of our 6 year history!
  • $2300 (avg) earnings for festival acts.
  • 20 house concerts
  • 5 additional concerts and appearances – office concerts, radio appearances.
  • 6 international attendees (mostly from France)
  • 10 out of state attendees (Tennessee, Minnesota, Virginia, Texas)

Media Impact

Our festival received coverage, articles, and our artists made appearances in:

• Creative Loafing
• St. Pete Times
• WFTS Television (ABC)
• WMNF Radio
• Assorted blogs and websites.

Economic Impact for the City

Listening Room Festival contributes ever-growing revenue for the City of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay area.

• Room Nights 30 @ $150 = $4500 (24 room nights at host hotel)
• Additional Travel Spending (estimated) = $6000
• After-Party at SouZou, 110 attendees and pre-show dinner bump
• $500 donation to St. Pete Arts Alliance

Preparations already underway for LRFest18! (April 18-22, 2018)

  • Artist applications May 15 – June 25
  • Judging (done by hosts of ConcertsInYourHome.com) June 27 – July 25

photos by Donna Green, of course!

Outdoor vs Indoor Concerts – which is better?

One of the most appealing things about house concerts is the cozy atmosphere that living rooms provide. That said, there are many hosts who prefer to host in gardens, backyards, and patios when possible.
The first trade-off to consider is weather. No artist (or host) wants to have a show canceled due to bad weather, so a backup plan (indoors) is almost always necessary. If you live in a seasonally dry/comfortable area, like California, you can get away with more outdoor events.
The second trade-off is intimacy. Some people do have a cozy garden area with natural barriers or walls to keep people close to the performer, but in general it isn’t AS cosy as an indoor show. An outdoor show almost always requires a sound system since you don’t get the acoustic benefit of walls to keep the sound in.
The third trade-off is safety. This can be a very minor point, but you do have to watch for people falling into a pool, tripping over tree roots, etc. Most homes have additional concerns when inviting guests into the yard.
Lastly, an outdoor show requires friendlier neighbors. Generally, classical or folk and acoustic concerts are not very loud, and most residential areas have relaxed “noise” standards for events that take place at reasonable hours. That said, if you are hosting a band, you should be checking with your neighbors and inviting them to attend. If Alice Cooper lives next door, you’re probably O.K.
Outdoor shows can have their own delightfulness when the weather is perfect, especially if the audience is attentive and close. Compared to a living room show,  a backyard event can typically accommodate a larger band and a larger audience, which is often the main reason a host will choose to indoor shows.
As noted above, indoor shows have more advantages, especially for hosts who can’t draw a large crowd. There’s something very satisfying about having a “full house,” and choosing a limited space can makes it easier to create that feeling of a successful event.

Press Release – House Concert Workshop during LRFest weekend. 4/22/17

For Immediate Release

A house concert workshop has been scheduled for April 22nd, as part of the Listening Room Festival.

The workshop is led by Fran Snyder, the founder of ConcertsInYourHome.com – the leading resource for house concerts around the world. Anyone interested in hosting house concerts is welcome to attend.

House concerts are an old tradition that has become vital to the careers of independent touring artists. With the shifting sands of technology and the music business, artists have found that the live experience is not easily duplicated (cheapened) and the intimacy of playing in close, homey quarters provides todays best opportunity to sell CDs and merchandise as well.

ConcertsInYourHome educates and inspires music fans to put on concerts in their living rooms, backyards, and other interesting locations. Some of these music fans make house concerts their hobby of choice, hosting 6-12 concerts per year for friends and invited guests.

The workshop takes place during the 6th annual Listening Room Festival – a gathering attended by house concert hosts and fans from around the world. Attendees have 20 house concerts to choose from over 5 days, and the main event is a showcase at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, featuring all 6 festival acts.

Workshop will include Q&A session and handouts for attendees. Topics will include building an audience, collaborating with other hosts, suggested donations, common mistakes, and some breakthrough ideas.

LRFest Meeting and House Concert Workshop.
Saturday, April 22

Staybridge Suites (meeting room)
940 5th Ave S
St. Petersburg, FL 33705

10am – 11am – breakfast and meet/greet
11am – Festival feedback
11:30am – HC workshop, Q&A based on your advance questions
1pm – wrap-up

The workshop is free for those who register in advance at this link. ($5 at the door if not registered.)

Inquiries: Fran Snyder   727-280-6208, fran at ListeningRoomNetwork.com   Press Photos

http://www.ListeningRoomFestival.com, http://www.ConcertsInYourHome.com

 

 

 

Video is Your Agent

“As soon as we had a great video that showed us at our best, everything became easier – booking, promoting, getting showcases… you name it. It’s one of the best investments we’ve made in our career.” – Rory Cloud of Quiles and Cloud

LRFest w logo

In mid April we’ll start taking artist applications for the 2018 Listening Room Festival. We want you to be ready, with a couple of videos that will make hosts and venues fall in love with you and your music. These videos can serve you beyond the LRF application, but in booking concerts on your own as well as through services like ConcertsInYourHome. Think of it as a compelling reason to do it now.

Booking is hard work. We (Listening Room Network) are dedicated to making it easier, and more rewarding for you. That said, nothing makes it easier than a great video. This is especially true for house concerts. When you consider the time, effort, and investment that each host makes on your behalf, they can’t just enjoy what you do. They have to love it.

Creating a great video doesn’t have to be expensive, and most of the effort it requires is stuff you should be doing anyway. To get ready,

  • Pick your most loved song(s) – which ones consistently get the best reaction?
  • Develop your performance – are you just playing it accurately, or is your performance compelling to watch?
  • Record drafts of your performances with your phone, or anything that can show you what you are doing. Are you leaning in to parts of the song, making eye contact, etc.
  • Choose a setting that reflects the type of show you are trying to book… it doesn’t have to be a living room – but an intimate setting would be great.
  • Recruit some friends/fans to attend the shoot so that you can capture some interaction or at least some applause.

Then reach out to video people in your community. Who can help? What kind of budget will you need to do something cool and compelling? Put something together and try it. Learn from it. This is not your last your video, but it could be the best one yet.

Get it done. We can’t wait to see it.

How well do CIYH hosts respond to artist inquiries?

A few years ago we created an internal system so that we could track how well our hosts and artists were communicating. This allowed us to learn

  • which hosts were having trouble keeping up
  • how quickly they respond
  • how favorably they respond

It also allows us to send weekly reminders to hosts about pending inquiries so that artists don’t have to keep asking “did you get my email?”

Here are the all time results over the past few years.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 12.20.02 AM

On average, almost half of our artist inquiries are answered within a week. Also, about one-third of the responses are favorable (yes or maybe). These numbers fluctuate a bit (January/February 2017 was pretty bad for response time) but tend to revert to the numbers shown.

What’s exciting now is that soon we’ll be able to show artists how their efforts compare to other artists on the site. Stay tuned!

 

 

Why are house concerts so good for artists?

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-11-13-50-pm

Photo by Donna Green

The following is an excerpt from Fran Snyder’s upcoming book on house concerts. Subscribe to this blog for more content or to the monthly newsletter at ListeningRoomNetwork.com to be notified when the book is available!

Basically, it comes down to three things:

  • The Vibe
  • The Money
  • The Host/Volunteer Promotion

Major social and musical trends have raised the value of house concerts for artists at all levels of their careers. In short, there is an ever increasing number of options for people to spend their leisure time, and a growing number of empowered, independent artists vying for that shrinking live-music portion. Audiences are getting smaller, and house concerts allow you to make the most of that small audience.

When you talk with artists who enjoy the house concert format, the consensus is clear that the experience is consistently and significantly better than the clubs. House concerts require less promotional work and earn more money per show. Most of all, the audience is nicer, more attentive, and eager to connect with the performers.

The Vibe

House concerts are the emotional anchors of every tour. — Hans York

Touring artists build up a tolerance to feeling like a stranger. You do get an occasional friendly face, but when your introduction to a new town is a nod from a bartender cleaning the beer lines, it can get pretty bleak out there. After the show, if you aren’t surrounded by new or old friends, the exit can be unremarkable too.

By contrast, a house concert host typically treats you as guest of honor in their home. Hospitality varies, but most artists feel a strong sense of gratitude after a house concert. You get to bask in a successful night a little longer, you get to know people a little better, and the generosity lifts your soul as well as your pocketbook.

Some artists will tell you that the house concert atmosphere is even more valuable than the income. The ability to tell your stories and banter with the audience can make the show like a sweet conversation. For road warriors who occasionally have to play bar gigs, the respect and connection they feel at house concerts reaffirms why they play music in the first place – to connect.

Financially, the house concerts are an even bigger win.

The Money

Unless an act is well-funded, established, or gaining hordes of new fans with a viral video, they have to find a way to succeed with small events. Artists can sometimes profit from a house concert with as few as ten attendees.

Here’s why:

  • No overhead costs. Hosts contribute their home and refreshments for free.
  • No profit motive for the house. Hosts don’t get a percentage of the door/donations.
  • No promotional costs. Since house concerts are private (for legal, zoning and licensing reasons) there’s usually no need to advertise the show or print posters, etc. The host invites friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.
  • Due to the intimate presentation, house concerts usually yield more merchandise sales per attendee than public concerts.
  • Free lodging and food is traditionally offered to the artist. Two major expenses of being on the road, gone. Artists get a bed, a shower, dinner, and maybe even breakfast.

These perks can make small shows financially worthwhile.

The Host/Volunteer Promotion

Already mentioned, but it’s worth noting how this affects your bottom line. Even if you only value your time at $15/hour, the time you spend seeking lodging and attendees adds up. Having your lodging, food, and promotion provided by the host makes a significant difference in the value of the show.

Consider the alternatives for an act playing in a market where they don’t have a big following. The math makes it clear.

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-11-07-49-pm

For small shows while away from home, when you factor in the savings as well as the income, it’s clear that the house concert can easily provide many times the value that a public venue gig would. It’s probably more enjoyable, too.

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