- Good lighting
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
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.
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?
Over the past six years, we’ve continued to create more activity around avails, so how exactly to they work?
- 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.”
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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)
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!
“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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
$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
- not serious about touring,
- not ready to tour,
- 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.
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.
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.
Two 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!
Improve the delivery of one verse.
How can you convey more emotion in that verse?
- 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.