Opening Acts – Up or Out?

“Up or Out” is a phrase that Bob Hillman uses in this story, to describe the potential philosophy of paying openers poorly. “Move up or move out” means that you aren’t supposed to make a living wage as an opener… get better, get lucky, or get out of the business. It’s both brutal and practical.

And then there are the romantic stories (thanks Shawn Mullins) of acts like the Indigo Girls who pay openers a living wage, share their massive audience with them, and treat them like family. Maybe that’s all part of moving up… to better opening slots.

It is possible make a music living without drawing a size-able audience in multiple markets. House concerts certainly enable that, and many more acts achieve it by becoming more entertainer (playing whatever, however) than artist.

We all create our own story, but I found Bob’s enlightening. I recommend reading the rest of it here.

 

 

$5 Discount if you check your phone at the door.

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My girlfriend runs a community acupuncture clinic. One of her biggest challenges is not putting pins into people’s bodies. It’s getting them to put away their phones during the treatment.

I have a similar challenge with phones. Is it possible to go to a concert without having the view eclipsed by phones… all night long? First, a few insults;

You:

  • are a terrible photographer
  • are even worse at video (horizontal, please)
  • are not missed because you are unavailable for 90 minutes
  • are never going to have your existential loneliness satisfied by a post, tweet, like, or share. If your life sucks, then the least you can do is enjoy the music.

Put the phone away. I’ll give you five bucks if I have to.

</rant>

LRN/Kickstarter Message for our Artists

Nobody is complaining.

Except me.

Yes, once in a while, I’ll get a suggestion about adding this feature or that one, but in essence, this is a pretty sweet gig. The hosts and venues are kind. The artists are kind. And things just roll along without much drama.

But over here?

  • I want you to get more gigs.
  • I want you to be able to upload and change up your profile more easily.
  • I want a built-in fanbase to attend the house concerts you play.
  • I want a beautiful (totally new) website that works on your phone as well as on your desktop.
  • I want more people discovering your music, whether they can book you or not.
  • I want more people funding your campaigns and becoming part of your career.

I have plans for all this, but artist memberships alone can’t fund all this work.

So in September, we are launching our first ever Kickstarter Campaign, to rebuild Listening Room Network and expand all the great stuff happening with ConcertsInYourHome.com.

Shortly after that, we’ll be asking our hosts to contribute on an annual basis, based on the added value that our network and new booking/networking tools will create for them.

The new website is for you. It’s for our hosts and venues – so they can help you. It’s for me too, because someday I want my legacy of work to be undeniably positive.

I’m saying thank you in advance. I hope you’ll share our expanded vision with your own network of friends. Stay tuned. Kickstarter. This September.

Is the Value of Your Music Judged by Alcohol Sales?

live_ music_and_drink_specialsA friend posted an article about how venues should pay, promote, and feed the artists who play there. It’s a bit of a rant about being asked to “play for exposure.” I know, people die of exposure.

The article is a dig at venue owners and managers, but I think it misses the underlying point. Venues (bars, clubs) are dealing with supply and demand and a terrible business model for listening rooms — get the audience drunk or you don’t make money.

Repeat after me: There is nothing wrong with owning a bar and having live music, and doing the best you can to survive, and allowing artists of all levels to enjoy your space and occasionally make a little money.

But if you want a better deal than that, e.g. a livable wage, venue-inspired promotion, etc., you have to approach venues with what makes sense to them… at least a certain number of attendees who will drink. If that’s not a fit for you, then embrace the alternatives. (House concerts, et al.)

You aren’t going to change the economics of bars unless you become a ticket-selling wonder. Don’t waste your breath trying to change a club-owner’s mind about how they should run their business or book their acts. Their own survival comes first. If it doesn’t, you’ll soon be complaining about a lack of places to play.

In short, don’t try to sell to people who aren’t buying.

 

House Concert Picture Hunt!

House concert pic hunt.jpg
Do you have a concert photo that shows the warmth and appeal of house concerts? Does it have these basic qualities?
  • Good lighting
  • Smiles
  • Closeness

We want to show the joy of house concerts through our growing worldwide community. Over the next few weeks, we’ll like, love, and share your photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, if they include the following two tags: #CIYH #HCpic

For our favorite pics, we may also offer you a social media shoutout and $5 for a fancy coffee or whatever! Upload, tag and share… as many photos as you like. Promotion ends June 30.

Thanks for being part of it! — Fran Snyder

Photo etiquette: Don’t make your camera annoying to people behind you! Sit near the back if you want to take pictures.

Artists: The Power of Listing Your Avails

Every month, we look at the stats from our monthly newsletter, to see what is of most interest to our 6000 subscribers. And every month one of the most clicked links is our “avails button.” In the section where we list our new and renewing artists, there’s a blue button that says “who is looking to tour in your area?”

Are you showing up in these pages where people are looking?

Avails in Newsletter

Section of our monthly newsletter

 

Over the past six years, we’ve continued to create more activity around avails, so how exactly to they work?

  1. Artists login to their profile, and go to their Avails tab. There are five avails* that allow you to list key states, provinces or countries that you are looking to play. For example, you could select FL, GA, and SC (3 states), the key month/date, and add a short phrase to describe what you are looking for, like “Playing southeast this fall, looking for Atlanta show in mid Oct.”
  2. This (and your other 4 avails) will show up in several places at CIYH and LRN – your artist profile, and the avails pages for each state, province or country that you list.

Then what?

The avails pages (one for each state, province, and country) list avails by month, which makes it easy for someone to find artists looking to play in their region on a particular month. On that page, they’ll see your picture, sample track, and a link to your full page profile, which also has a button for them to contact you.

Who sees the avails?

New hosts and venues: Many new hosts and venues are curious about the artists in our network, especially if they aren’t deeply connected to their local or regional scene.

Pro-active hosts and venues: There are a number of hosts who like to see their options rather than waiting for individual artists to find them and reach out.

Bookers outside our network: Since the avails are publicly viewable, artists sometimes get inquiries from outside our membership.

Login and make sure your avails are up to date.

Many pages on the website guide users to have a look at avails, and if you aren’t listing yours, you are likely to be missing some opportunities. Avails are a great way to make the site work for you when you are away from your computer. Use them.

 

*all artists are given 5 updatable avails with their membership. More can be purchased for acts who want to appear in more places on the site.

 

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 30
  • 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.

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.

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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!