“We only book acts we’ve seen…”


It’s so annoying! And it’s not always TRUE, even though it’s not a lie*.

A LOT of hosts/venues insist on seeing an artist before they book them, and that makes complete sense. They’ve spent months/years building an audience, and earning their trust that the concerts are always great. And MAYBE, they once had an experience where they were impressed with an artist’s online channels, but were disappointed/embarrassed by the concert that took place.

That’s when they create the new RULE: Must see you play in person before booking.

So what is a touring artist to do? With the help of our REMINDER button, you switch to the long game. Here’s an example::

I’m booking a tour of Florida in September because I like mosquitos and hurricanes. One of the hosts I want to approach says they must see me before booking. OK. On their profile, I set a reminder that I want to reach out to them 4 weeks before my Florida shows, with a message like

“Hi Host, since you only book acts you’ve seen, I have booked 3 shows in your area in September, and I’d be delighted to put you on our guest list for any of the three shows… [list of dates, nearby cities.] It would be so great to meet you and to see if our live show connects with you like we think it will. Please let us know if you can make one!”

Ninja move: If no response, try again 10 days later.

Shaolin Master: If no response, try 2 days before the first show.

Buddha: Rest. Enjoy the tour as it was meant to be.

USE the reminder button. It can be super-effective.

*Not a lie? – I’ve seen more than one host break this rule when the right act with an undeniable video reaches out.

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Why do artists occasionally see their inquiries “dismissed?”

You aren’t doing anything wrong. There are several potential reasons for dismissed inquiries. 

1. Host no longer active or taking an extended break. 

2. Host restarting, and we offer them a fresh start.

3. Most often, it’s because your unanswered inquiry is 6 months old. This happens automatically to give artists a fresh start with that host, since the proposed dates are likely no longer valid, and it’s likely that the inquiry would be at the bottom of a long stack – unlikely to ever get answered. 

Dismissed inquiries are part of our maintenance to make sure that hosts/venues get time-relevant messages, and so that artists are encouraged to update requests if they wish.

Why Listening Room Network is Absent from Social Media

While sharing my thoughts, experiences, wishes, and dreams on social media has led to many blessings, I am now becoming more private online, and that includes ListeningRoomNetwork, our festival and related business activities.

There was a time when we didn’t know each other’s every fleeting thought. And it was OK. Maybe it was better?

There’s something about human nature that seeks to find patterns, something in common. And there’s something about us that is riveted by conflict. Posts on social media, especially Facebook, seeking to share and explore issues too often descend into disrespectful conflict.

There’s also something about us that craves products that seem FREE. The hidden cost is the corporate abduction of our data, repackaged and sold to advertisers, spammers, and even thieves.

The final straw for me was learning that 3 of our Facebook pages (ConcertsInYourHome, ListeningRoomNetwork, and ListeningRoomFestival) had been taken from me. I had invested many thousands of dollars creating and promoting these pages. Some hacker in eastern Europe managed to remove me as admin, severing my access to my followers. How do I know this? Facebook told me.

And even though Facebook has a record of every keystroke I made to create and maintain these pages for years, they would not return these pages to me unless I gave them a copy of my driver’s license. It would be rudimentary for them to establish my identity with the gobs of information they already have. They just want more. I refused.

Of course, after 10-15 years of feeding them my data, I still have tons of useful connections and friendships with my Facebook profile, and it’s difficult to look away. There are interesting and kind people that I can only connect with via Facebook. But if I post something that has anything to do with my business, Facebook finds a way to hide that from you, unless I pay them.

Give us more money. Give us more data.

Trust us. Trust Alexa. Trust Google. Trust that Ring Camera. Trust. Trust. Trust.
Never mind the constant parade of hacks and leaks of our personal information by corporations and government entities.

Give us your info and we’ll make your life easier and more fun. It’s mostly true!
The trend is so powerful. How can you resist? Everyone is doing it.
Do you really want to go backwards?

I have no desire to live in the woods and to cut myself off from modern life. I enjoy the city and I like Google maps. I occasionally like to make a ripple in the water and see who is swimming online.

So – I can’t promise you won’t see me on social media, but I will be as absent as possible.

But the NETWORK? Doesn’t it need exposure and promotion via social media?

Not really. Our members are free to use social media as they wish, and they often share our content. Over the years I’ve found that our best artists and hosts come from word of mouth, not advertising.

For example, one of our artists tells a talented friend, “You have to join this site – it’s where I get most of my best gigs!”

Or an attendee asks a house concert host, “How do you do this?” and the response is “I joined ListeningRoomNetwork.com – they make it so easy.”

So, I’m not paying for clicks on ads and pages. I’m going as directly as possible to the people who appreciate what we do, and working to inspire them so they’ll share what we do.

If you want more, you can subscribe to our Podcast or join our network as a fan.

What do you think? I welcome your feedback here. https://my.listeningroomnetwork.com/contact

Fran Snyder

Founder, Listening Room Network & Festival

Same Time Next Year? a.k.a. postpone, don’t cancel.

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?

  • Most hosts/venues aren’t booked 12 months out, even if they occasionally get to that point.
  • Typically if that month was good this year, it’ll be good next year.
  • It gives plenty of time to adjust, and reduces the chances that the show will have to be postponed a second time.

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!

House Concert Contracts (Nontract?)

Over the years, many hosts have asked about contracts, which are sometimes sent by an agent representing the artist.

Avoiding Contracts?

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

  • never sign anything that makes you uncomfortable
  • never agree to deliver something you “hope” you can make happen
  • only agree to a “guarantee” you can cover without missing a car payment

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.
______________
artist
______________
host

Each party (and the NSA) will keep this for reference.

LRN extends all artist memberships by 2 months.

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.

akprattheaderfull

LRN Launches Livestream Fund to Support Artists.

We’re building a Livestream Fund – your input please!

Since livestreamed shows will be the primary income of many artists for an extended period of time, we want to help LRN artists by subsidizing and promoting their livestreams.
Within a few days, I’d like to announce a list of private and corporate sponsors who will support a package of livestreamed shows. For example, $250 could give $50 to five performances.
You may have already noticed this page, which is growing by the day. https://my.listeningroomnetwork.com/events/stream
Artists typically post donate/payment links with their streams, so we are looking to supplement, not replace, that income.

Questions:

  1. I’d prefer not to take a percentage of this fund, but administering this program will cost money (web development, accounting, cc fees.) So I’m curious if you’d prefer to see me do a separate ask for these funds, or if I should take a small percentage (less than 5%) to make things simpler.
  2. We have one committed donor so far ($2000) and that would help us start by subsidizing 40 shows at $50 each. Would you rather see us promote fewer shows and subsidize at $100 each?
  3. If you are interested in supporting this, please PM me privately if you wish. fran@listeningroomnetwork.com
I understand that many hosts are affected by the economic situation, so please make sure you and your family are safe and secure before taking on additional responsibility like this.
Grateful for all of you. Please share any thoughts on how we could improve this idea.

Small events will lead the music recovery.

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 12.12.47 PM

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.

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

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.

Fran Snyder

ListeningRoomNetwork.com

 

2019 Artists of the Year

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!

Max Hatt / Edda Glass

The Rough & Tumble

The Whispering Tree

Honorable Mentions

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.