Follow Up Email
Important cultural events deserve a recap! Your guests also deserve a thank you and maybe even a preview of the next show. Don’t miss the opportunity to remind your friends what a great experience they had, and to make them look forward to the next one.
You might include:
- a picture or link to pictures
- story or compliment from the artist
- items left behind (clothing, dishware, etc.)
- details of your next show!
You can also ask for feedback. Ask them:
- if they took any great pics they want to share
- what was their favorite aspect of the concert
- what would they suggest to improve your events
Make your attendees feel like they are part of your series. They will return more often and bring friends.
Here are some excerpts and examples from our hosting community!
Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you so much for attending Nathan’s concert last evening! It was a memorable event! I am looking forward to greeting you in my home for JT’s concert and to my concerts in the future! I am proud of all of us for showing our support for independent music! 🎶
Next show is April 12th! [webflyer link]
Warm regards, Judy
What a show!
Thanks for joining us for another special concert. Here’s a [link] to view our pics or share one of your favorites from the show. Be sure to RSVP soon for our jazz concert – we only do jazz once per year and it’s always well attended. [Link]
Surveying Your Audience
Some hosts in our network send out an easy survey after each show to gather feedback from their audience. If you act on the best suggestions, it’s a great way to improve your series over time. Also, your audience will help you fine-tune your desire to invite performers to play again the following year… did they love the show as much as you did? A survey is a great way to find out.
There are great apps like SurveyMonkey to help you put together effective email surveys. Also you can create something decent (and free) with Google Docs, and many email services (Constant Contact, etc.) also have survey options that merge easily with your list of contacts.
Remember that clear, short, easy emails are effective and rarely frustrating to receive. Show genuine interest in your audience and you’ll find that many of them love to share their opinions.
And you, keep on sharing that music!
Spend your day with it.
Of course, you should support live music. But that’s like saying you should eat. It’s not very inspiring.
For several years, I’ve been wondering why it always irks me to see “support live music,” and “support local this or that.” For some reason, support doesn’t inspire me. It’s like giving someone on the street some spare change and wondering if I’m actually helping their day or just getting them to another momentary fix.
I need to be inspired. I want to make a difference that is noticeable. I want to contribute more than a token, more than the ante, and more than the suggested donation.
- Will $5 more be noticed by anyone but me? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll know it.
- Will bringing 2-4 friends to the show make a difference? At a house concert… very likely!
- Will learning a few choruses of the upcoming show make a difference? If I sit up front and sing or mouth the words… you can bet the artist will notice, and be thrilled.
Support live music if that’s all you are inspired to do. But here’s your opportunity to take it up a notch. See you at a show.
A host asks…
Artists are willing to book fairly far out ahead of a date for a show. In the event of a modest life event such as a job change necessitating a move of a few hundred miles… what’s a reasonable duration ahead of time to cancel? I would certainly work to reschedule but might not have enough friends in the new area for some time.
The important thing is to create a few worthwhile or helpful options for the artist/group you have scheduled. Forced travel or relocations can happen to many hosts, so it can be helpful to plant seeds well in advance of this kind of rain. It’s never too early to get people involved in your series, especially as volunteers.
Consider some creative backup measures:
Is there an attendee of your shows that could be inspired to step up to help honor the show? Can the show be saved by scaling it down to a TenTen (ten songs for ten or more guests) if one of your friends would like to do it but can’t likely fit or get the numbers you anticipated?
Is there another host in your region that might consider taking over the show if you’ll help them promote it?
Can you supplement the alternative with a donation even if you’ve done your best to move/replace the show? Even if you didn’t promise a guarantee, you still have the option to make a generous gesture.
We count on you to do better than “Sorry guys, can’t do the show. Good luck.” We hope you care more than that.
What about beyond this show?
Since you are moving a few hundred miles away… what will happen to your audience? Do your people have another series in town that you’ll recommend they attend? You’ve spent considerable time and effort building an audience and community for music… please find a way to keep the torch lit in your area!
“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.