“I am playing an opener set soon for a smallish long-established house concert series. We have been told the host “prefers” not to do any comped admission. I will be traveling with my partner, and I ain’t about to ask her to stand outside while I play. Nor do I find it appropriate to fork over a twenty out of my minimal fee so she can have a chair. ”
How do other hosts handle the occasional “guest of the performer” or comp requests; ie. what is reasonable to expect?”
- If you feel honored to open this show, you have the opportunity to be gracious and pay (or offer to pay) for your spouse/guest.
- If you don’t feel honored enough, you can always ask to “confirm if your spouse or +1” can attend as your free guest.
- The third option is to buy her a shirt that says “crew,” “roadie,” or “guitar technician” and teach him/her how to tune guitars!
I’ve noticed a lot of variety in the past 12 years, and learned a lot about what makes house concerts an enjoyable experience. I’m ready to promote a new slightly-tweaked standard for our listening room community. Artists and hosts are free to vary from this standard, but this is what we will promote going forward. Whatever format or set-structure you choose for your concerts, you should communicate that to your hosts/artists in your profile.
For a long time, the de-facto standard for house concerts has been two sets, of roughly 40-50 minutes in length. Whether the concert is one set or two, I am advocating for a shorter amount of time.
Most people have trouble sitting still and concentrating for more than 30-40 minutes. Like it or not, technology and pop-culture have whittled away at our attention spans. In addition, house concert seats are rarely comfortable for a long length of time. When it comes to the end of a second long set, I think most encores are half-hearted.
The old saying of “leave them wanting more” applies here. Why not play shorter sets of your absolute best material and make people eager to hear more? Why not build to an enthusiastic encore every night?
It’s also becoming more common for artists to choose to play one longer set instead of having set breaks. The arguments for this are logical, especially if you previously played two long sets.
- Some people leave during the break.
- The break stops the momentum you have built, and it’s often hard to recapture the vibe you worked to achieve in the first set.
- It makes for a longer night.
The advantages of two sets with a break include:
- more sales during the break (two sales opportunities can make the lines shorter)
- allowing people to stretch and re-fill, re-snack
- the opportunity for two distinct acts (first act new stuff, second act previous hits/requests, a la James Lee Stanley)
Going forward, we will be promoting 70 minute formats for house concerts, whether you choose to play one set or two. For one-setters, it’s almost unkind to ask people to sit for more than 70 minutes – unless they ask you for more.
For two-set shows, we are recommending 40 minutes, then 30. The shorter second set leaves people primed for an enthusiastic encore, and it allows you to choose whether to play 1,2,3 or even 4 more songs if the energy is sustained. I would even suggest doing encores in pairs of songs. Play 2 and see if you get a second encore once in a while… that’s when you know your are having peak experience concerts.
We understand that not everyone will agree with or endorse this standard. It’s simply what we will promote.
As a reminder, we developed the format of TenTen Concerts years ago to inspire short performances on weeknights – to make things easy for the host, for the audience, and for the artist. This format is unchanged – Ten Songs for Ten or more guests. Ten songs is roughly 45 minutes for most artists, and encores are a likely and welcome treat here as well. The suggested donation is reduced to (U.S.) $10-20 instead of $15-20.
For Immediate Release
Florida “House Concert” Festival Connects Fans from All Over the World
The 7th Annual Listening Room Festival invites house concert presenters, artists and fans to join in this year’s festivities. Music-lovers from around the globe are traveling to St. Petersburg, FL to enjoy the house concerts, showcase, and planned group activities from April 17-22, 2018.
Six international contest winners will play the Main Showcase (April 20) at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, as well as house concerts in the surrounding region. This year’s artists are Big Little Lions, Luke Bulla Trio, Escaping Pavement, Chasing Lovely, John Wort Hannam, and The Novelists. Reserved seats are available ($25adv./$35 day of show) at the festival website http://www.ListeningRoomFestival.com
House concerts, the core of the festival, stem from a tradition that is hundreds of years old, but has seen a resurgence in the past few decades. Music fans volunteer to host living room concerts, and invite friends to attend an up-close-and-personal show by a professional touring artist. Attendees are asked to make a suggested donation of $15-20 per person directly to the performers.
The main showcase at the Palladium Theater features all six acts. In addition, this year’s festival includes group activities and workshops to educate and inspire fans to join the growing house concert movement.
2018 Festival Schedule
Schedule is subject to change. Please register for the festival to receive updates and invitations to the private events.
- April 17-22 — house concerts around the bay area.
- Friday, April 20 — LRFest Showcase at the Palladium
- Saturday April 21 — House Concert Workshop, Meet & Greet at Marriott Courtyard Downtown St. Petersburg. Free to attend if you RSVP here. $5 at the door.
- Sunday April 22 — 10am brunch for festival artists, hosts, and invited guests. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The festival is presented by ConcertsInYourHome.com, part of The Listening Room Network. More information and tickets are available through ListeningRoomFestival.com.
About the Listening Room Network:
Listening Room Network (LRN) creates and nurtures opportunities that pay artists to perform in a listening environment while bringing communities together with a renewed passion for live music. LRN and its signature websites (ConcertsInYourHome.com, OfficeConcerts.com) are leading innovators in the live music industry.
Free house concert guide: Download (PDF)
HighRes Press photos: Office Concerts, House Concerts, Fran Snyder, and Festival Finale.
A concert is an agreement between the host/venue and the artist. The booker should research the artist and get the basic vibe. The artist with strong or suggestive material that may not be obvious from their website should say so. If it’s not a fit, you move on.
If you want to be political (this applies to more than music) you will pay a price for it. An activist is someone willing to pay the price. But if you are excellent at political/suggestive music (a la Ani DiFranco, Roy Zimmerman, Eric Schwarz) there are also rewards… including a very loyal audience.
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!
2017 Artists of the Year!
These artists had a great year with us as well!
Rupert Wates, Danika & The Jeb, Matt Bednarsky, The Currys, Kelley McRae, Escaping Pavement, Woody Russell, and Brian Keith Wallen.
Note: Artists of the Year are not eligible to win for the following two years.
I’ve begun The Marketing Seminar, taught by Seth Godin. In it, he asks some poignant questions, making sure that we unearth our core values before piling on tactics and advice on how to reach the right people for our community. Here was the first question.
What change are you trying to make?
For artists, I want to teach them that performing in noisy places and hoping to be discovered is only one way to make it in the music business, and that’s it’s probably not the best way. For some artists, playing small, intimate concerts is the best way to hone your craft, make a living, make new fans, and to reach them more profoundly.
For music fans, I want to teach them that music is as beautiful and promising as it ever has been, and the experience of hearing a small, independent artist or group in the right atmosphere can be sublime. For some fans, the ones who are generous, and inspired by the possibility of helping artists grow, I want to teach them how they can participate, by hosting concerts – in their living rooms, gardens, or other remarkable spaces.
I want these two groups to form a growing community called the Listening Room Network. It’s already started, but there’s a long way to go.
- make booking easier for hosts and artists.
- improve host response rates.
- decrease artist errors in reaching out to hosts.
- allow members to track results and learn how we can best improve this process.
- automatically attach artist profile links
- feature most important information
- restrict emails to a length that hosts are more likely to read.
- give hosts easy decision choices and room to add details.
- allow us to track how things are going.
- copy the artist for easy record keeping, and the history is downloadable if you misplace your emails.
Host responses include
- clear subject headers for artists to sort and keep track in their email folders, and a link to the host’s profile
- the original request so that artists see what the host is actually responding to.
- the host email address if the answer is Yes, Maybe, or Not Now so that communication
- can continue independently. A reply of “No” prevents artists from persisting or challenging the host decisions.
This system creates tabs for hosts to organize the artists they’ve looked at. Artists with a Yes or Maybe status allow the host to share a “potential artists” page with their mailing list so that they can book shows with more interest, advance RSVPs, and better turnouts.
Please remember that some hosts actively look at the avails pages to find artists. Be sure to update your profile regularly to make sure that your avails are current and the right hosts can find you.
We started this fundraising campaign at Kickstarter, which became too limiting. You can now contribute two ways:
- Rewards and packages here: https://squareup.com/store/listeningroomnetwork
- Founder’s Page and tax-deductible options here:
Let’s create a remarkable place for music fans and a support system for the listening rooms that we love.
We started back when the internet was made of wool and sticks. It’s amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish with squirrel-powered computers and an etch-a-sketch.
But it’s time to rebuild!
In order to launch some wonderful new features and tools for our treasured artists and music fans, we’re totally revamping our websites. We’re making them mobile friendly, and paving the way for a brighter future.
We’re also launching fan memberships, allowing more people to connect and enjoy what we do, even if they don’t host concerts or perform.
In the video, I’m wearing a Concerts In Your Home t-shirt. That was our first website, and it’s still going strong today, with thousands of events each year. But all these events are part of a larger ecosystem of musical goodness. Great, intimate concerts don’t have to happen in a living room! They can happen almost anywhere, provided the right people show up.
That’s why we created the Listening Room Network, to support public venues as well as private ones, and to create lots of new opportunities for artists to find a listening audience and a living wage. You, the fan, get more opportunities to get up close and personal.
Replacing and upgrading 10 years of work is a massive investment of time and money, and your participation will help us do it quickly and do it right.
The internet was designed to help us connect… and so was music! Listening Room Network is about making those connections last.
We’re excited to include you in our journey. As a supporter, you’ll be among the first fan memberships, and be able to help us in the creation of perks and benefits we’ll provide for our members. You’ll be able to see our updated designs and features before we roll them out.
Finally, we hope to inspire you to join your fellow fans and contributors at our Listening Room Festival, the largest annual gathering of house concert fans. We think you need a music vacation every year – Florida is beautiful in April, and this one-of-a-kind festival is so charming. Join us if you can!
Some of our Rewards!
You can now contribute two ways:
- Rewards and packages here: https://squareup.com/store/listeningroomnetwork
- Founder’s Page and tax-deductible options here:
Excellent question. After all, we’ve spent 11 years developing and promoting CIYH, it’s what we’re known for, and it’s where we lead. We certainly haven’t lost any passion for house concerts, either.
I’ll run through some bullet points, but first let me remind you of our core mission.
We inspire, promote, and help connect “gigs where people listen.” We help touring artists earn a living wage and find appreciative audiences. We help music fans who appreciate a deeper connection with artists, and those who want to play an important role in the development of music careers.
Although house concerts are wonderful expression of “gigs where people listen,” they are not and should not be the only place where deep musical connections happen. Listening Rooms, public and private, need to be supported and promoted.
Here’s why the Listening Room Network is important, and why we are dedicating ourselves to its success.
- Artists and fans need public venues – these spaces offer more possibilities, more space, and more exposure to new fans. Compared to solos and duos, bands have trouble finding house concerts. Bigger sound systems, lights, stages, all help to elevate music in ways that don’t always work in a house concert setting. We need to support public venues.
- We need to make booking shows and tours easier. Booking is hard work, and our artists need to be able to find more opportunities in one place. LRN allows them to find and connect more shows, beyond the limits of what a house-concerts-only site can provide.
- House concerts and listening rooms should be allies. Although most people still don’t know about house concerts, even fewer know what listening rooms are and why they are important. Our house concert community will benefit from being affiliated and friendly with listening rooms in their region. House concerts are creating new fans – fans who can enjoy and support listening rooms too.
- The work of running a listening room is very similar to the work of house concerts. The platform we built for CIYH is a great start for serving listening rooms, and we’ve already begun adapting it for their use. In fact, we already have members who host house concerts and help run a listening room.
- Fans need more attention and more fun. Our concerts need fans, and fans need a place to connect and engage. For more than a decade, we’ve focused on connecting and supporting artists and venues. While this creates lost of shows, it does not provide enough support to attract like-minded music fans – which are the lifeblood of successful concerts. LRN will feature robust fan memberships, where they can support, review, and share the artists and venue the enjoy the most.
There are plenty of music sites trying to be everything for every artist and every venue. That’s not where we are headed. By staying true to our love of LISTENING rooms and an affinity for places where artists can make a living wage (without the pre-requisite of being famous in that town), we can include public venues and still maintain a community that engages the right kinds of fans.