House Concert Checklist for Hosts

Even the most experienced pilots have a checklist they use to make sure they take all necessary steps for a safe trip. The checklist not only makes clear what needs to be done, but also describes the best order or timing for effectiveness and efficiency. Use this checklist to save yourself time and to help your house concert series take off!

[PS – this is a first draft, to be revised for Fran Snyder’s upcoming book on house concerts. Send suggestions for improvement to fran@listeningroomnetwork.com

House Concert Checklist for Hosts

Booking Details

  • Are there other house concerts or events that compete with your proposed/tentative date? Sports playoffs, music festivals, birthdays, holidays, spring breaks, etc.
  • Format – TenTen, traditional – which is best house concert format for this day of the week, this artist/act, and your schedule?
  • Suggested donation, lodging, meal, guarantee, cancelation – all terms agreed?

Artist/Agent communications

  • Confirmation Email sent? Address, Numbers, Arrival Time Window, Lodging, Pets, etc.
  • Food and Smoking Allergies?
  • Optional Info to Include: 1. Local resources: nearby restaurants, grocery and music stores 2. Regional resources: music venues/contacts that might help them find other concerts.

Invitations

  • Use date and day, choose time to open doors and show time.
  • Food and beverage… basic plan and suggestion for invitees.
  • Webflyer and email look great? Spell check? test send and proofread twice. (resources?)
  • Mailing list updated? (Bounced emails and notes from last time?)

Volunteers and backup plans

  • Do you have at least one volunteer to help with the door, setup, food/beverage, etc, so that you can be a gracious host?
  • Do you have a plan for what to do if the weather goes bad or if you get horrendously ill?

Promoting

  • Update and increase mailing list
  • Schedule invitation emails… 4 weeks, 2 weeks, 1 week.
  • Send confirmation emails with address as guests RSVP.
  • Send 3 day reminder to RSVP list.
  • Waiting list needed?
  • Additional efforts if needed to fill room – charity, VIPs

Setting Up, Day(s) Before

  • Basic cleaning inside and out… think safety and visibility from the road.
  • Print signage (donation, entry, food, etc.)
  • Confirm artist arrival time, dinner plans, sound system, extension cord?

Setting Up, Day of Show

  • Spruce up cleaning if necessary.
  • Donations Jar with Sign
  • Guest List Printed
  • Green room
  • Concert room
  • Merch Table
  • Kitchen/Food area
  • Keep back row handy but not set up (or reserved)

Artist Arrival

  • Where to load in, park, put merch and gear?
  • Where to relax and warm up?
  • Snacks or beverages?
  • Outlets/extension available?
  • Expectations of access – is artist expected to mingle before the show? (some like this, some don’t, timing is also issue)

Guest arrival

  • Volunteer/greeter in place
  • Encourage folks to pick their seats, especially down front.

Show start

  • Give 5-10 minute warning for everyone to use restrooms and find their seats.
  • Take the stage and welcome folks.
  • Make short announcements.
  • Describe format… encourage folks to stay in their seats during the show. Try to wait for a break or the end of the show.
  • Introduce artist. Short, warm, personal.

Break

  • Praise artist, encourage CD/merch purchases.
  • Remind about suggested donations if any were missed.
  • Check restrooms if possible.
  • Give 5 minute warning
  • Announce beginning of next set. Please welcome back…name!

End

  • Rave about show.
  • Encourage CD sales
  • Check for over-drinkers
  • Settle up with artist money… donations on-target?

Follow Up

Thank you email, promo next show.

Again, your feedback is welcome!

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Can Performers Help Me Promote My House Concerts?

Performers are public figures, so their websites and email lists are for public promotion. If your concert is listed on their website, it can be considered a public event. [We’ve seen a house concert shut down by local government for this. Officials claimed it was a public event because it was listed on the artist’s website, with the host’s email address. Many artists/agents are unaware of this and they will list your info on their website unless you tell them not to.]

Hosts find it tempting to encourage artists help fill seats. Artists are often happy to help (if they can) by emailing their fans in the area, because that can create a bigger show and increase donations. The challenge is they don’t personally know most people on their list, and inviting unknown fans to your home poses TWO types of risks – 1. making your event public, and 2. having un-vetted strangers in your home.

It’s important to take a sober look at the risks you take when you have any gathering in your home. People can damage items, steal, or even fall and hurt themselves. These problems are rare and could even be trivial. But there is always a chance it could be serious. That’s why we advocate for the safest practices, and encourage you to personally connect (online, by phone, or even in person) with people before you invite them in your home.

Can performers help at all?

Here’s what we recommend:

If the artist wants to list your house concert on their website, tell them to list it like this:

safeartistwebsitepromo

Notice that the host’s email address, phone number, or street address are not publicly listed. The reader would have to use the email form on the artist website to ask for an introduction.

Now, the artist can vet (approve) the fan and introduce them to you, the host, like this: 

artistvetsfanemail

Of course, the decision to invite Ben is up to you. Friending him on Facebook or exchanging a few emails begins a relationship that takes it beyond “someone who just asked if they could come.” You’ve been introduced (by the band) and you’ve communicated, and you’ve added them to your guest list.

Again, there’s no case law on this, but doesn’t this sound safer than having musicians invite every local bar patron they’ve played for?

This is an excerpt from the new house concert guide from Fran Snyder and ConcertsInYourHome.com – subscribe to this blog or to our monthly newsletter to be notified when the guide is published. 

Press Release: Listening Room Festival 2017 (#LRFest17)

For Immediate ReleaseScreen Shot 2017-03-07 at 9.48.18 AM
Florida “House Concert” Festival Connects Fans from All Over the World

The 6th 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 19-23, 2017.

Six international contest winners will play the Main Showcase (April 21) at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, as well as house concerts in the surrounding region. This year’s artists are The Currys, Teneia, Mark Croft, Flagship Romance, Daniel Champagne, and Christie Lenée.

House concerts are the core of the festival. 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 $10-20 per person to the performers.

The main showcase at the Palladium Theater features all six acts and is not to be missed.  In addition, this year’s festival includes group activities and workshops to educate and inspire fans to join the growing house concert movement.

2017 Festival Schedule

Schedule is subject to change. Please register for the festival to receive updates.

Wednesday April 19

  • Evening – House Concerts (Tampa, Tarpon Springs, Largo, Clearwater, Safety Harbor)

Thursday April 20

  • 10:30AM – Office Concert with Mark Croft at the Greenhouse (440 2nd Avenue North, St. Petersburg.)  One-hour concert.
  • Evening – House Concerts (St. Petersburg, Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater)

Friday April 21

  • 7:30pm Main Showcase at Palladium Theater, featuring all 6 acts! (tickets)
  • 10:30pm After-Party at SouZou – festival performers cut loose and jam. Enjoy themed cocktails named after our festival artists. This will sell out – VIP ticket holders get free entry, all others must purchase.

Saturday April 22

  • 10am-1pm  House Concert Workshop and Host Meet and Greet at Staybridge Suites Free to attend if you RSVP here. $5 at the door.
  • Evening – House Concerts (St. Petersburg, Seminole, Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater)

Sunday April 23

  • 10:30am – Brunch for hosts, featured artists, and invited guests.
  • 1pm and 4pm House Concerts
  • Evening – House Concerts (St. Petersburg, Dunedin, Ft. Myers, Sarasota)

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.

Contact/Press Photos: 

Fran Snyder 727-280-6208fran@ListeningRoomNetwork.com

Website: www.ListeningRoomFestival.com

Free house concert guide: Download (PDF)

HighRes Press photos: Office Concerts, House Concerts, Fran Snyder, and Festival Finale.

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Bed and Breakfasts – Dream Locations for House Concerts

There’s a lovely legacy of house concerts that take place at quaint bed and breakfasts and inns. A BNB can often surpass the charm of a typical residence, with built-in amenities like guest rooms, a large kitchens and living area.

In addition to providing entertainment for sleepover guests, a house concert series can be a great local outreach tool to make your community aware of your property. Many people simply don’t know about the great and unique local options for out of town guests. The hotel-on-the-highway is often the default, which is a missed opportunity for the warm and singular experience that a BNB can provide.

So build your local mailing list, and consider putting on a monthly or quarterly house concert at your bed and breakfast. You too can build a legacy of great music and memories, and transform your property into a cultural icon in your community.

Visit www.ConcertsInYourHome.com to sign up as a house concert host, and download our free guide.

Why Host House Concerts?

musicon

Everyone hosts for their own reasons. Chances are you already have enough reason to get started. However, you might be inspired by some of the other ways that hosts benefit from hosting house concerts.

Love of music and artists

Some music fans feel a deep connection to the touring artist. These fans often have a music background, and have profound admiration for people willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a life on the road. Artists delay (or abandon) financial security, dreams of family and a modest home, and the powerful luxury of a stable career routine – weekly outings with friends, dance lessons with your spouse, and more. Yes, there is plenty of magic in return, but the sacrifices are real. For these reasons and more, music fans feel blessed to be able to contribute to a musical dream, and to often see it happen in their home.

Love of community

House concerts are a powerful way to unite friends and build community. They enhance friendships, foster new ones, and create sublime moments that allow us to weave our memories together. House concert hosts often become tastemakers in their community, and even inspire music scenes to develop in their town. Neighbors and friends rediscover their love the arts and start to divorce their televisions a few times per week.

Love of entertaining

Despite the multiplex-sized television screens in people’s homes, very few people actually entertain in their home on a regular basis. It seems like the dinner party is a myth of the wealthy past. House concerts provide an inspiring reason to clean the house and make good use of the sprawling spaces we inhabit. Consider the fact that many apartments today are bigger than the homes of just a few generations ago. Did your grandparents have a guest room? Probably not.

Love of a cause

One of the novel applications of house concerts is to honor and support a cause. Many fundraising events require large teams of volunteers, whereas a monthly house concert series can be organized by one or two people. Furthermore, artists typically have affinity for several causes, and often have a song related to those causes. Imagine a wonderful artist inspiring your audience with a personal story or song that is on-message for your favorite charity.

Being the change you want to see in the world.

One of the best ways for artists to create house concert opportunities where they live is to start their own series. The generous act of shining the light on someone else can be the catalyst for others to start hosting. With a healthy house concert scene, that artist may find their own opportunities to play at someone else’s home.

Building an audience to fulfill your dream of owning a commercial venue.

We’ve seen house concerts graduate to promoting bigger events in their town, and some eventually open their own commercial venue. Starting any new business involves risk, but the entertainment venue is especially risky. Wouldn’t it make sense to build an audience and a great reputation before creating the massive overhead (rent, employees, licenses, etc.) of a commercial venue?

The list of potential reasons to host house concerts could certainly go on, but these are some of the most common ones. Most of us can relate to more than one, and that provides a strong enough “why” to do the work of putting on the first few events. After a few great shows, your own list will certainly grow.

ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and venues

I have hosted many concerts in my home through CIYH, and now own a small cafe in AZ where we host musicians about once a month. These are paid gigs for the musicians, so it’s a different model than house concerts. I was recently (and rather persistently) contacted by BMI insisting that we pay a BMI licensing fee and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts about this if we are exclusively hosting all original music. Thanks in advance for your insight. D. Atkins

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) exist in most all developed countries, and the United States is the only country that has three of them – ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. In the UK it’s PRS, in Canada it’s SOCAN, and so on… they each have their own rules for collections and payments, but the underlying purpose is to allow owners and writers of music to be compensated for the use of their music.

In the U.S., licensing via PROs (BMI, ASCAP and SESAC) is a complicated issue. There are a few things at play. Congress has given these organizations a mandate (law) to collect for the PUBLIC performance of music registered with them. Almost all professional songwriters and publishers register their works so that they can be compensated for the use of their songs and recordings.

1. This applies to playing recorded music in a public setting. The radio/records playing in the customer area of a restaurant, for example, mean that PROs are allowed to license and collect from these venues, even if no live music is played.
2. It also applies to live music in a public setting.

Since most venues have both live and recorded music, the typical license is called a “blanket license” to cover everything, and they usually start around $300 per year, for each PRO. Few venues are pro-active about negotiating the fees and paying, but eventually at least two of the three organizations find them and ask for a license.

The formula’s vary, and are a bit negotiable. Basically, it’s based on square footage and frequency of events, with some other variables. There are also “per use” licenses, for a one-day festival, for example. The responsibility to pay the license is always with the venue, not the performers.

Challenges:

Public venues can’t just claim that only original music is played there. If you have a strict policy of not just “no covers” and no “Happy Birthday”, but also “no co-written songs”, you might be able to convince them not to license you… but you can bet they will test you, and if one of your performers slips up on the wrong night, they’ll likely come after you more strongly the next time. Plus, if you have recorded music playing during non-performance hours, there’s probably even less wiggle room.

Our recommendation:

Negotiate a deal you can afford. If you are not a strong negotiator, have someone experienced (friendly attorney, fellow music professional, etc.) do it for you. As of this writing $300-400 per year (per organization = X3) seems to be the rate for small coffeehouses. No one likes to pay the water bill either, but it is a legitimate business expense, and the water company doesn’t care if your business is making a profit. Neither will the PROs.

House Concerts:

To the extent that they are private events in people’s homes, PROs should have no standing to collect at house concerts. However, some house concerts are very public with their promotion and have no filter or introduction process before issuing invitations to people they don’t know. This opens the door for PROs to claim the events are not private and therefore subject to licenses. We recommend that hosts start small and grow their audience responsibly over time so that they don’t have to do public promotion. Friends, neighbors, and friends of friends are the place to start. In the excerpt below, notice that the “broadcast” of a performance (live or recorded) via the internet can also be a problem for house concerts.

Copyright Law

To perform or display a work “publicly” means—

(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

— http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html

Notice the bolded text above and compare it to the language on a PRO site. Notice how the PROs omit “and it’s social acquaintances?”

Q: What is a public performance of music and what is the “Performing Right”?

A “public performance” of music is defined in the U.S. copyright law to include any music played outside a normal circle of friends and family.

— http://www.bmi.com/licensing/#faqs

Hosts: What is your backup plan?

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The show must go on… so, do you have a back up plan?

You broke your foot. You live alone, and there’s no way you can prep the house and host a show that’s coming up in ten days. What do you do?

One of the most heartbreaking parts of touring is the canceled show. One broken concert date can dramatically change the finances of a tour. Fuel, food, and lodging expenses pressure artists to work every day on the road, and canceled shows often put artists at a loss for the whole trip.

Sometimes it can be challenging for a host to keep their promise of a show. Illness, injury, weather, work emergencies, and death in the family are just some of the events that can put a house concert in jeopardy. Create your backup plan in advance and avoid letting down your artists and audience.

Let’s come up with a backup host and venue.

The easiest way to solve both problems is to turn your house concert series into a partnership, with you as the leader. Some of our most successful house concert series are partnerships of two or three couples, who take turns hosting the group effort in their homes. This is the first and best example of a back-up plan. If something happens to one host, the event is moved, guests are notified, and another couple takes up the responsibility that night.

Another way to enlist a backup host is to have a friend/volunteer to stand in for you at your place. Obviously, they would have to be well-acquainted with your home/space and the responsibilities of hosting – so it’s best to groom your backup host by having them volunteer at your events for a while.

Outside-In or another space.

If you prefer to have your shows outside and uncovered, it is critical to have an indoor option in case of bad weather. If your show is scheduled for the backyard, get a sense of how you could have the show inside – even if it means the audience has to be considerably smaller. If there’s no way to host inside, ask if any of your neighbors or nearby friends would be willing to be the backup venue. Also, is there a local restaurant, club, or cafe that could take on the show you’ve organized?

Backup Lodging – if you’ve offered a guest room to your artist, be sure that your plans include a replacement room if necessary.

Canceling still requires a backup plan.

Granted, there is such a thing as “enough notice” to cancel. But if you find yourself wanting to cancel a show less than 8 weeks ahead of time, it’s almost certain that you will impose a significant loss to your scheduled artist.

It’s also possible your artist could be O.K. with canceling if you are willing to reschedule. Maybe they need rest and could use a night off, or would rather not play a show that is significantly different than they expected.

Call your artist or their agent and have a conversation about the situation, and see if they are OK with your backup plan or if they have another idea or option. You’ll want to confirm the change of plans by email, but it’s easier to be creative and collaborative on the phone.

Some hosts go to extraordinary lengths in the spirit of “the show must go on,” and they get a great sense of pride from honoring their commitment through adversity. We’ve seen hosts follow through when their house flooded, and one stayed committed for a show that was the day before his father’s funeral. Still, some shows get canceled, but there are ways to avoid or minimize some of the pain.

Offering and honoring a financial guarantee

For some hosts a financial guarantee is the simplest and easiest way to minimize the losses to the artist. Many hosts offer a minimum guarantee when they book a concert. That way, the artist can confidently take on the expenses of travel, knowing that no matter the attendance or circumstances, they’ll make enough money to cover their expenses.

The opportunity here is to decide on a guarantee in case of cancelation. For example, if the guarantee for the show is $500, you would offer $250 if the show is canceled less than 8 weeks out. Few artists take the time to ask for this, it’s a great sign of respect for a host to offer a cancelation fee, even if it’s only $50-100. This small token along with a rescheduled concert date can make a big difference.

TenTen Concert format makes it easier to recruit help.

Finally, it’s important to remind ourselves that house concerts don’t have to be big to be fruitful. Even someone with a small home can become a host, if they can get 10 or more people to attend on weeknights. Read about TenTen Concerts.

Your backup plan is an opportunity to get new friends involved with music, and possibly make them fall in love with house concerts too. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to improve people’s lives. Give them the opportunity to volunteer – as a partner host or a backup volunteer!

A backup plan can help secure your legacy as a great house concert host. Sit down and brainstorm ways you can prevent unexpected problems. Hopefully you’ll never need it. But the benefits of creating partners and volunteers will make your concerts more enjoyable, and the peace of mind your plan offers will make the effort worthwhile.

Download our free house concert guide at ConcertsInYourHome.com.

What if your artist cancels the show?

Kick out the rut of house concert promotion

When was the last time you tried something new? Pick one of these for your next concert.

1. Make a list of 10 people you have never invited to your house concerts. Engage them in a conversation via Facebook, email, or (gasp!) even the phone. Start with “how are things?” and move to with “have you heard about my house concerts?” and finish with “would you like front row seats at my next show?”

2. Dig deeper on your artist and share. Get beyond the webflyer with links. What are the two most interesting things about your artist’s story? Is there a lyric or a verse that particularly moves you? Is there a new video to discover and share with your friends? Give people context… why is this artist special to you and potentially special to them?

3. Call 5 people with a personal appeal. Use your house concert series to make yourself genuinely friendlier all month long. Choose a few friends each month to check in on, catch up, and show genuine interest in them. And of course, remind them about your special hobby and your special event coming up.

You are special.

Your artists are special.

Your friends and attendees are special.

We just need to be personally reminded from time to time.

Proper Care and Feeding of Your Artists

Should the artist expect dinner at the house concert or venue? Certainly, this should be confirmed by phone a few days before the show, but why not make it clear in your host/venue profile?

For most house concerts and venues, feeding the artist before or after the show is expected. Depending on their arrival time, artists may prefer to skip dinner or just snack before the show, and opt for a more relaxed meal after the guests have gone.

With an early arrival time, it can be quite nice to have dinner (host, artist, and maybe a few special guests) together. This takes extra effort and planning, and if it’s too much for the host to take on they should simply say so.

Through ConcertsInYourHome.com, there’s an easy place to put this information when you list your show. It’s the confirmation page (step 3). Read the “Accommodations and Additional Info” in the example below.

ciyhconfirmationpage

This confirmation page is available to artists at anytime for reference. All they have to do is login and click on your show on their Start Page to see this information at the top of the webflyer.

Hectic travel schedules often lead to artists forgetting to confirm these details. Hosts can be pro-active to make sure food will not be a stressful or disappointing part of the artist’s experience.

TIP: Make it easy. Choose a go-to meal to offer in your accommodations. Something easy that you make all the time. Artists can accept, decline, or supplement.

Artists are capable of picking up some food before they arrive at your home. It’s not ideal, but it’s not a big deal if you can warn them ahead of time. Please have some suggestions for them, and include some gluten-free and veggie options if possible. It’s best to send these options in an email.

Some hosts really cherish the opportunity to sit down with the artist for a meal before the show. It doesn’t always work with the schedule of the artist and host, but when it does, a home-cooked meal for a traveling artist is a lovely treat.

 

Commit to Five Minutes per Month at ConcertsInYourHome?

One of our greatest and most persistent stumbling blocks is keeping our community up to date. When hosts and artists fail to update their profiles it creates more work, and costs our members countless opportunities to communicate easily, to book more concerts, and to get more attendees.

What is stunning, is that most updates can be done in less than 5 minutes.

  • Listing a show can be done in less than 2 minutes. Result? Other artists are less likely to ask for concerts around that time, and people (attendees and hosts who want to collaborate) are more likely to see the show in our calendar.
  • Updating booking information in a host profile can help artists self-select (better) according to your needs. If you are looking to fill a show in August, say so. If you prefer to host duos, if you can only book up to 4 months out… all these things can help you communicate with artists who fit your needs.
  • Artists – replacing one or two avails in your profile takes so little time, and can lead to discovery from hosts in the areas you most want to tour. When was the last time you changed up your songs, videos, or bio? Is it possible another combination would work better?

Yes, updated information isn’t always digested correctly. For example, some artists will still ask for shows at inappropriate times, and those are the easiest ones to notice. However, what you don’t notice, is how many artists DID follow your instructions and decided not to contact you at that time. Good information helps everyone, even if it’s not every time.

For as little as 5 minutes per month, the value of your membership can increase significantly. An up-to-date community creates much more opportunity.