I’d love your feedback on these tips, compiled by some gracious hosts in the San Francisco Bay area. Free download PDF.
I’d love your feedback on these tips, compiled by some gracious hosts in the San Francisco Bay area. Free download PDF.
If you’re still dealing with having cancel or re-schedule dates, in many cases you can minimize the hassle by immediately choosing a new date a year later. Why?
So rather than put it off, you can quickly pull your calendar, find the same time frame a year out, and choose the new date. Webflyers at LRN can easily be adjusted.
This way, you don’t have to repeat all the work of booking again, and trying to remember where you left off. Both parties decide, right away, to re-book. If the worst should happen and circumstances don’t improve, you’ll have plenty of time to make further adjustments if necessary.
Bottom line: it’s bad enough to postpone an event that both parties were looking forward to… why make re-booking harder than it has to be? It can take less than 5 minutes in most cases.
Even if the same exact month doesn’t work… in most cases it is still be better to re-book right away. Just get it done!
Over the years, many hosts have asked about contracts, which are sometimes sent by an agent representing the artist.
Artists and agents, as they get more established, find it increasingly worthwhile to have signed contracts to protect their income and to develop standard expectations while on the road. Venues are accustomed to contracts, which often include a “rider” that spells out what the act expects on stage (tech rider) as well as accommodations – lodging, food, transportation and more. These riders can be a single-page, but are often 3-5 pages for a small act, and hundreds of pages for rock stars playing stadium shows.
House concerts rarely involve contracts. As you might expect, contracts and riders could prove intimidating for a house concert host, who is not running a business, but stepping up as a volunteer promoter. In addition, there are important reasons to avoid contracts for house concerts.
If the host signs a contract, it suggests the host is involved in the commercial aspect of the activity, instead of inviting friends over and allowing the artist to collect donations. Local zoning boards, insurance companies, the IRS, and other officials could take issue with a commercial activity in the home.
As covered in our chapter “Confirming the Show,” house concert details are best handled by email, which makes for a sufficient digital handshake. It is important to clearly state the expectations of the host and the artist/agent.
Here is what we tell our hosts at Listening Room Network
One of our European hosts emailed because she had just received a contract from a booking agent. She hadn’t seen that before, and wanted advice. There is a chapter on this in the upcoming book, but what do you think of my response?
“We do not recommend contracts for house concerts, but it is not unusual for agents to ask for them. My recommendation:
I would say “I don’t sign contracts because I am a volunteer host, not a business. However, I agree to do my best for [artist] according to the emails we have exchanged.”
If you are comfortable offering a guarantee (amount is up to you), I would also say “I do understand you are looking out for your artist, and that there are travel expenses. I can guarantee €100 in donations for this booking – if the collected donations are below €100, I will make up the difference to reach the minimum guarantee.” [You can guarantee less or more, the amount is up to you. Donations/guarantees are not affected by merchandise sales.]
If you like, instead of a contract, it is nice to make a summary email that describes the responsibilities of each person. It can look like a contract, but does not require signatures.
Again, don’t sign anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Are contracts evil? Are they enforceable? Will someone get sued?
(No. Maybe. Probably not.)
House concerts are a personal experience, and these events can cross a lot of territory that wouldn’t ordinarily happen with a traditional venue. If you have 5 roosters in the backyard that start crowing at 4:30am – you’ll want to bring that up, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a reliable tool to remind you.
In this spirit, it is helpful for hosts to have a checklist or fact sheet they can offer to the performers. Skip the signatures and have a simple email like this ready to go when you book an artist for a house concert
If we had to make a house concert contract, it might look something like the next page.
The House Concert “Nontract”
Artist Name: ________________ Agent/Solvent (if any)_____________________
Host with the Most Name:______________________
Both partiers, artist and host, make this agreement in order to create a fantastic, fun time, and to make sure they are aware of their responsibility doodads to make that happen.
________ is the date the house concert will take place ________ is the time the show will start between ______ and _______ is the time the artist should arrive the artist will perform ____ minutes, take a break, and then play ____ minutes more – give or take a few.
Artist (initial all that apply) __ will show up on time, sober, friendly, and ready to entertain. __ will remain at least as sober as the host. __ is comfortable with house hold pets, except _______ and tarantulas. __ will be friendly to the audience/hosts/guests, but may require some alone time and space before the start of the show. __ will respect the home, and not leave wet towels on hardwood floors. __ will honor the smoking policy, and does/does not need a convenient place to shoot up. __ is comfortable with the host’s requirement of a show that would not be rated more than G/PG/R/X in content.
Host (initial all that apply) __ have food for the artist, most likely _______ __ have a bed or room for the artist’s to stay the night. Bed will be free of teddy bears. __ provide an obvious, marked container for guests to place the suggested donation (e.g. suggested donation: $15) __ will/will not allow children to attend. Teenagers untethered to iPhones may attend.
Both parties are aware that brown stuff can hit the fan. That said, both artist and host will do their utmost to uphold this agreement. If the event must be cancelled, both parties will be as accommodating as possible, by doing things like adapting, re-scheduling, buying a few CDs, sending chocolates or whatever it is that a kind person would do. Artist will be aware that the host may have put a lot of time and effort into promoting the show, and the host will remember that an artist may have significant travel expenses as a result of the booking.
This agreement should not be entered into lightly. Therefore, we put on our serious faces and sign below.
Each party (and the NSA) will keep this for reference.
Even though we’re still seeing a little bit of booking activity, we’re adding 2 months to the memberships of all our active artists. This will prevent artists from being asked to renew during this difficult time, but also compensate everyone for the downturn.
In addition, we’ve had a successful launch of our Sponsored Livestream program, enabling fans and hosts to contribute to livestreams directly from our calendars, as well creating a general livestream fund. 100% of donations go to LRN artists, and our goal is to get $50 to every artist on the site if they list a livestream concert.
Thanks for being part of our community.
I want to share some of my thoughts regarding the future of LRN, and our independent artists who embrace house concerts and small events as vital to their careers. Of course, at this moment, all events, public and private have been severely hampered or stopped.
In the near term, many commercial venues are likely to go out of business – venues that are unable to weather the drastic and sustained interruption of their business. The ones that go under are unlikely to come back quickly.
However, as covid-19 gets under control, as a large percentage of people become immune to it, music events will make a resurgence. The venues that manage to survive will find themselves with a bit less competition, and a thrilled clientele eager to celebrate and participate in the live music experience again.
House concerts, due to their volunteer nature, don’t become business failures. Although many hosts will suffer financial set-backs, the reality is that house concerts don’t require more than a space, an audience, and a musician. These personal, home-based events will become more vital than ever to re-start the touring careers of independent artists.
It’s also likely that small events will be the most advisable, due to lesser chance of viral transmission. Consequently, potluck dinners may need to stay off the music menu for a while. Hand-washing, elbow bumps, and electronic donations may also cement their place in our live music culture. I’d also bet that live-streaming these events will become the norm… pay little more to be there, chip in a bit less to watch online.
My message, of course, is that music isn’t going away. It’ll float online for a while, it’ll bring us together in small groups eventually, and house concerts will lead the way.
Stay tuned. Join us.We plan to be out front.
Each year, we recognize three talented acts for their successful use of the site, and the reviews and recommendations we’ve received from our host community. Touring is a difficult sport, and these acts have demonstrated not just talent, but persistence, kindness, and a willingness to go where the opportunities are. Congrats!
These artists had a great year with us as well!
Rupert Wates, Danika & The Jeb, Escaping Pavement, Giulia Milanta, Missy Andersen & Her One Man Band, Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen,
Heidi Burson, and Jesse Terry.
Note: Artists of the Year are not eligible to win for the following four years.
First, I’m not the only one. “House concerts,” as they are commonly called, are popping up all over the world. To organize these shows, music fans invite small acts (often singer-songwriters with just an acoustic guitar) to perform in their living rooms, for appreciative friends and neighbors who all contribute a meaningful donation (usually $20) to the artist.
Why would you do this?
It turns out, people are often disappointed with the experience of going to commercial music venues. The list of reasons is extensive, but you can start with high ticket prices, service fees, urban traffic/parking, and the fact that (at least for major acts) you wind up far from the stage, looking through a sea of cellphones (if not your own) only to gaze at the jumbotron projection of the tiny artist on the stage.
But even for small, independent concerts, the shows often start late, and are put on by venues that care more about alcohol sales than the music. So even if you can see the stage, you’re likely to have some obnoxious people near you, chatting (or yelling) and making it very hard for you to connect with the music.
By contrast, house concerts bring people closer to the musicians. These intimate venues allow audiences to enjoy music without distractions, for reasonable money and at a reasonable time of day. You shouldn’t have to suffer the next day to enjoy yourself!
True, there are plenty of people who feel satisfied with background music, crazy-late nights, or the festival atmosphere where your attention is pulled in a multitude of directions at once. However, for music fans who want a deeper and more personal connection to the show, satisfaction only comes from house concerts and the rare listening room venue.
— Fran Snyder
Fran Snyder is the founder of Listening Room Network and ConcertsInYourHome.org
*compiled stats from various sites and artist reports at Listening Room Network.
I was under the impression that it was important to post mp3s that are as close to how I would be performing as possible, but when I listened those of a few other artists, their mp3’s were very produced, with other instruments that I am certain they could not play all at once. Do you have advice for how to choose the best content for my LRN profile?
Most of the time, a LRN host or host will go straight to video 1 in your profile. From there it’s anyone’s guess… video 2, audio 1, etc… we don’t know.
The way I think about it is… if they see a great representation of your “live, intimate concert” in video one, then that really opens up your options for the rest of your content. I want them to fall in love with a song, so I want to lead off my audio tracks with whatever recording has had the most success at hooking people — the song with most plays, most requests, most sales, etc.
They probably won’t get to your third mp3 if they don’t love at least one of the other two.
Best foot/feet forward… don’t worry about the shoes!
That said, there’s nothing like data to help you make decisions and adjust your profile over time. If you are having great success with your content – don’t change it! Have a look at this chart.
Host Responses to Booking Inquiries:
Yes/Maybe are italicized above, as we consider them “positive responses.” That means that 38% of host responses are favorable. If your positive responses are significantly lower than that, it could be worthwhile to change up your content before you make your next batch of inquiries.
Again, Video One in your profile is the most critical thing to update. (Changing your second mp3 is less likely to make a difference, unless it has a provocative title that people are likely to click on.) [Note to self – let’s see if we can get that data.. what are the most clicked items in an artist’s profile!]
There are other important factors that can affect the responses you receive, including…
If you put little effort into your communications, you can’t expect a lot of effort in return.
Think. Guess. Track Results. Repeat!
For artists and agents.
Let’s say you find a venue or host that is a good fit for you, but you decide it would be best to wait to contact them. Between the booking request and the dismiss buttons, there is now a “Remind Me” button.
On a date you select, we’ll send you a reminder email with a link to the venue profile, and their updated booking info, like this:
The sample text is blah… but you could add notes about why you want to reach out to that host, or what to check for next time you visit the profile.
No more missed opportunities. No more rushed contacts. Good timing can make significant difference in your success.
I hope you find this new feature helpful.
Note: Only one reminder per venue. This allows you to revisit and adjust the date if you wish.