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.

How and why I turned my home into a live music venue.

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

Quotes:

  1. “We genuinely love music and believe in live music with all our hearts. Opening our homes to musicians of all sorts is a privilege.” — Dani G., Host
  2. “Our experience from the website so far has been really fantastic. We have been finding a lot of great performance opportunities and have made much more money than we expected. Also, it has made our touring across the US and Europe much more interesting as we’re able to more easily connect the dots between shows and go to some places we otherwise probably never would. I love how it’s really a community. We’ve been making friends along the way.” — Sarah and Kenny, Artists
  3. “Thank you for all of the support. Between personal coaching from CIYH, the artist, and the website tools, things couldn’t have went better. We had a full house, people were very respectful and attentive, show was awesome, the artist made some money, and everyone had a great time. Most importantly, my girlfriend is now convinced this is something she loves and a lot of her apprehension about hosting has been put to rest. We’re so excited for the next show.” — Matt Hough, Host
  4. “Can’t believe we are now booked with monthly gigs through November – and such amazing musicians! Becoming involved with this has been a phenomenal experience — so inspirational to be a part of these artists experiences, their lives really inspire me and it feels so 100% positive … really, really amazing.” Elena D., Host

Stats:

  • Dozens of websites support this activity, including SofaConcerts.com in Germany, HomeRoutes.com in Canada, and HouseConcertsAustralia.com, and ListeningRoomNetwork.com (Global).
  • It’s estimated that more than 40,000 house concerts happen every year globally.*
  • House concerts vary in size from 10 to 80 attendees indoors, and 100+ in backyards.

*compiled stats from various sites and artist reports at Listening Room Network.

 

How to Choose Content for your LRN artist profile.

A new artist asks:

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?

Great question!

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!

Testing 1, 2, 3

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… 13%
  • Maybe… 25%
  • Not Now… 41%
  • No… 21%

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!]

It’s not just about content!

There are other important factors that can affect the responses you receive, including…

  1. are you pitching hosts who aren’t a good fit?
  2. are you not carefully reading their booking information and missing important cues?
  3. are you pitching dates without enough (or too much) lead time?
  4. are you not personalizing your inquiries in a meaningful way?

If you put little effort into your communications, you can’t expect a lot of effort in return.

Think. Guess. Track Results. Repeat!

Screen Shot 2019-12-05 at 3.02.48 PM

 

 

New feature: Remind me to make booking inquiry.

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.

Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 1.06.08 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2019-11-15 at 1.51.10 PM

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.

#1 House Concert Performance Tip from Fran Snyder.

#1 House Concert Performance Tip from Fran Snyder

I see a LOT of house concerts, and I have a compulsive need to give artists “notes” after I see them play. Here is the most common thing I suggest.

Please put two songs together without talking in between, at least once per set.

I have a theory that house concerts make some artists too comfortable, and they forget that people came for a show, not a fireside chat. The most frustrating thing is that they settle into a pattern – talk, play, talk, play, talk… and never break it.

Do you want to be that predictable?

The best opportunity is to pick your two most upbeat or groovy songs and string them together, without a word in between. Grooves and tempo build energy, and it’s a missed opportunity when you spend 5 minutes building energy and just let it fizzle out. Take the opportunity to build even more energy, take it up a notch and create the biggest moment of your set!

House concerts can make you tame. Don’t let yourself get spoiled by easy and attentive audiences who clap for everything you do. It’s lovely. It’s seductive. House concerts can make you think you’re much better than you are. Careful!

Stay on your toes and challenge yourself to make your show better each night. How big were the big moments? Was your performance pleasant or mesmerizing?

Again, the most common weakness (90% of shows I see) is the pattern of talk, play, talk, play, talk…

Build. Surprise. Delight!

Artist Websites – What does LRN look for?

Andrew asks,

– What are the most important things you want to see in an artist’s website?
– What is superfluous or unnecessary that too many artists include?
– Is a self-maintained page on a platform like SquareSpace sufficient?

Not sure how much consensus you’ll find on answers to your questions. What I can point out is the most common complaints that WE have or we SEE from our hosts.

Evidence of touring, especially with appearances key listening rooms like Passim, Eddie’s Attic, Living Room NYC, Hideaway Cafe St. Pete, etc.  Every region has some notable listening rooms. The less we can see in terms of upcoming shows, the more important it is to make past shows viewable/accessible.

History of recording: An act with fewer than 2 independent releases will require a lot of activity in terms of singles and digital releases. If you are on your first album, that’s not enough material for a normal 2 set house concert. A cover song or two can be a welcome addition to a set, but we want to see a lot of original stuff.

An interesting bio: artists rarely write well about themselves. Our most common complaint is “the bio doesn’t give me a clear sense of what makes this artist special or distinctive.”

More videos: Even if you give us two killer videos, we’ll probably dig for more.

Easy navigation (tabs) don’t send us to other sites (facebook, youtube, soundcloud, etc) for what we want. Each of these provide widgets that can be embedded on your website. That said – “Only your best belongs on your website.” There’s no need to put ALL your videos there, for example.

Pro Website: If we see a Wix or SquareSpace brand on your website, it tells us that you aren’t willing to spend a couple hundred bucks per year for a pro site. If you aren’t pro, it’s totally understandable. We understand economizing, and it can certainly be overcome with great content. But first impressions do count. There are a significant number of artists who “just make it” or “just miss” in our evaluation process.

Clear/concistent presentation/lineup: Another common complaint we have is an unclear presentation. Example.. website features full band but the artist is applying solo, or some other confusing aspect. Sometimes it can be a site that is heavy on “I do everything!” I teach, I play weddings, I instruct yoga, etc… While we recognize that an artist may have many talents, it’s important to have a central theme, and for us, we appreciate when the website matches the impression (lineup) we get in the videos.
Note: Our artist profiles are designed to showcase the “house concert” aspects of your act. So it’s not critical that your main website is 100% “house concert-y.” But the less you confuse us the better!

Thanks for the thoughtful questions. I hope my answers help.

Can/Should Artist Ask for a Guarantee from House Concerts?

We recognize that artists sometimes achieve a point in their career where they have to establish minimums, and Listening Room Network does not object to the practice of asking for minimums.

In general, setting a guarantee price can be tricky for artists. Set it too high and you can lose surprisingly fruitful opportunities, simply because a host isn’t willing to guarantee an amount that is still very likely to be delivered. Set your guarantee too low and you might create a weak impression.

In addition, guarantees in the house concert world require a little extra care.

Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Hosts are volunteers, and are not trying to make money off your performance.
  2. Hosts add value in many ways, including lodging, meals, and a listening audience of whatever size.
  3. Hosts belong to a wide spectrum of income levels – what sounds reasonable to one will make another blush.
  4. The capacity of the room and history of the host should be considered when asking for your guarantee. Do the math – unless the host is already a big fan of your music, they are unlikely to accept a guarantee that exceeds the potential of the room!

Note: Some artists have presented guarantees in terms of people, rather than dollars, softening (but maybe obscuring) the $ value it implies. Make sure your expectations are clear.

With the exercise of sensitivity, a minimum guarantee can prevent financial loss and some uncomfortable moments. It’s important to be clear and concise. Five-page riders can be an unreasonable expectation for all but the most experienced house concert hosts.

Most important: BE GRACIOUS AND ACCEPTING WHEN HOSTS REFUSE YOUR GUARANTEE. If you cannot politely offer a lower amount, thank them and move on. Negotiate your house concerts with care and empathy. Some hosts will have a financial situation that is not a good fit for your needs. That needs to be O.K.

Here’s what I recommend from the host point of view. https://livemusictribe.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/financial-guarantees-for-artistsperformers/