#1 House Concert Performance Tip from Fran Snyder.

#1 House Concert Performance Tip from Fran Snyder

I see a LOT of house concerts, and I have a compulsive need to give artists “notes” after I see them play. Here is the most common thing I suggest.

Please put two songs together without talking in between, at least once per set.

I have a theory that house concerts make some artists too comfortable, and they forget that people came for a show, not a fireside chat. The most frustrating thing is that they settle into a pattern – talk, play, talk, play, talk… and never break it.

Do you want to be that predictable?

The best opportunity is to pick your two most upbeat or groovy songs and string them together, without a word in between. Grooves and tempo build energy, and it’s a missed opportunity when you spend 5 minutes building energy and just let it fizzle out. Take the opportunity to build even more energy, take it up a notch and create the biggest moment of your set!

House concerts can make you tame. Don’t let yourself get spoiled by easy and attentive audiences who clap for everything you do. It’s lovely. It’s seductive. House concerts can make you think you’re much better than you are. Careful!

Stay on your toes and challenge yourself to make your show better each night. How big were the big moments? Was your performance pleasant or mesmerizing?

Again, the most common weakness (90% of shows I see) is the pattern of talk, play, talk, play, talk…

Build. Surprise. Delight!

Artist Websites – What does LRN look for?

Andrew asks,

– What are the most important things you want to see in an artist’s website?
– What is superfluous or unnecessary that too many artists include?
– Is a self-maintained page on a platform like SquareSpace sufficient?

Not sure how much consensus you’ll find on answers to your questions. What I can point out is the most common complaints that WE have or we SEE from our hosts.

Evidence of touring, especially with appearances key listening rooms like Passim, Eddie’s Attic, Living Room NYC, Hideaway Cafe St. Pete, etc.  Every region has some notable listening rooms. The less we can see in terms of upcoming shows, the more important it is to make past shows viewable/accessible.

History of recording: An act with fewer than 2 independent releases will require a lot of activity in terms of singles and digital releases. If you are on your first album, that’s not enough material for a normal 2 set house concert. A cover song or two can be a welcome addition to a set, but we want to see a lot of original stuff.

An interesting bio: artists rarely write well about themselves. Our most common complaint is “the bio doesn’t give me a clear sense of what makes this artist special or distinctive.”

More videos: Even if you give us two killer videos, we’ll probably dig for more.

Easy navigation (tabs) don’t send us to other sites (facebook, youtube, soundcloud, etc) for what we want. Each of these provide widgets that can be embedded on your website. That said – “Only your best belongs on your website.” There’s no need to put ALL your videos there, for example.

Pro Website: If we see a Wix or SquareSpace brand on your website, it tells us that you aren’t willing to spend a couple hundred bucks per year for a pro site. If you aren’t pro, it’s totally understandable. We understand economizing, and it can certainly be overcome with great content. But first impressions do count. There are a significant number of artists who “just make it” or “just miss” in our evaluation process.

Clear/concistent presentation/lineup: Another common complaint we have is an unclear presentation. Example.. website features full band but the artist is applying solo, or some other confusing aspect. Sometimes it can be a site that is heavy on “I do everything!” I teach, I play weddings, I instruct yoga, etc… While we recognize that an artist may have many talents, it’s important to have a central theme, and for us, we appreciate when the website matches the impression (lineup) we get in the videos.
Note: Our artist profiles are designed to showcase the “house concert” aspects of your act. So it’s not critical that your main website is 100% “house concert-y.” But the less you confuse us the better!

Thanks for the thoughtful questions. I hope my answers help.

Can/Should Artist Ask for a Guarantee from House Concerts?

We recognize that artists sometimes achieve a point in their career where they have to establish minimums, and Listening Room Network does not object to the practice of asking for minimums.

In general, setting a guarantee price can be tricky for artists. Set it too high and you can lose surprisingly fruitful opportunities, simply because a host isn’t willing to guarantee an amount that is still very likely to be delivered. Set your guarantee too low and you might create a weak impression.

In addition, guarantees in the house concert world require a little extra care.

Here are some important points to consider:

  1. Hosts are volunteers, and are not trying to make money off your performance.
  2. Hosts add value in many ways, including lodging, meals, and a listening audience of whatever size.
  3. Hosts belong to a wide spectrum of income levels – what sounds reasonable to one will make another blush.
  4. The capacity of the room and history of the host should be considered when asking for your guarantee. Do the math – unless the host is already a big fan of your music, they are unlikely to accept a guarantee that exceeds the potential of the room!

Note: Some artists have presented guarantees in terms of people, rather than dollars, softening (but maybe obscuring) the $ value it implies. Make sure your expectations are clear.

With the exercise of sensitivity, a minimum guarantee can prevent financial loss and some uncomfortable moments. It’s important to be clear and concise. Five-page riders can be an unreasonable expectation for all but the most experienced house concert hosts.

Most important: BE GRACIOUS AND ACCEPTING WHEN HOSTS REFUSE YOUR GUARANTEE. If you cannot politely offer a lower amount, thank them and move on. Negotiate your house concerts with care and empathy. Some hosts will have a financial situation that is not a good fit for your needs. That needs to be O.K.

Here’s what I recommend from the host point of view. https://livemusictribe.wordpress.com/2009/07/01/financial-guarantees-for-artistsperformers/

 

How to Avoid Panic Promotion

Occasionally I get emails from house concert presenters who have an upcoming show with a shortage of RSVPs. They are looking for help or advice for a last minute promotional push to get their numbers up for a healthy turnout.

Note that these following suggestions are even MORE helpful if you don’t wait until a few days out.

Let’s make sure your emails are persuasive.

What makes this artist special? What do you love most? Have you communicated that in an email to your list?

A lot of hosts fall into the habit of “just the facts” when announcing their shows. I find it makes a difference to give them a sentence or two about why this show might be special.

Example: “Aaron’s CD has been the most played music in my car for the past six months. I think you’ll really appreciate the lyrical depth and musical groovy-ness of his music. It reminds me of Peter Gabriel.”

THEN give them the details and how to RSVP.

Brainstorm to get a few more names and emails on your list.

Not everyone picks up the habit of collecting email addresses and interest from people they meet. Is your dentist on your list? Who else have you met lately?

If you don’t have the habit of adding to your list each time you meet new folks, then schedule a regular brainstorm session every month or so. OR, wait til just before you get into panic mode on your concert with light RSVPs. 8^)

Personal calls and emails to key folks.

Remember that some of the people on your list are actual friends that you care (or used to care!) about. Maybe pick up the phone? “Hey I was about to invite you to this special concert I’m hosting, but I figured I’d give you a call and catch up first. How are you?” Re-kindle the friendship, THEN offer to send the invite email. You might even confirm the email address if they’ve been unresponsive in the past. “Is this your best email?”

Ask for help!

Your existing RSVPs can be nudged to invite some friends.

Don’t beg and plead (yet)… people actually like to be helpful. And NEVER be a downer about your numbers. You want to inspire people to attend, and you want them to look forward to future emails. If you establish a pattern of panic and sadness, people will start to tune you out.

So include a special note in your reminder email “we have a few open seats left for this show… is there someone you know that might enjoy joining you for this special concert?”

At Listening Room Network, we help venues and house concerts promote their events to each other, as well as our private community of fans. You can join us and list your events at www.ListeningRoomNetwork.com

What is some advice you’d give to a host who wants to add some last minute RSVPs? Send them to support@listeningroomnetwork.com and we’ll update this post.

And remember, don’t just announce… persuade!

“This concert is a special one because…”

 

Your Cultural Legacy as a Music Fan

Did you just go to shows, or did it mean something? — Fran Snyder

You can be in the music business.
Best of all, you don’t have to pretend it’s your job.

What do I mean?

Until you make it to the top of the corporate music business ladder, you’re poor. You’re overworked. It’s a rough lifestyle.

The best way to be in the music business is as a hobby. It’s easy as

  1. Volunteer
  2. Play a limited role that you enjoy.
  3. Watch the impact that you make on the lives of your friends, and the careers of independent artists you admire.

You can make a difference as a fan, organizer, promoter, or house concert host. Stay at it long enough, and you create your own cultural legacy.

Let us show you how.

Join Us.

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Russ (right) and his wife Julie have hosted 200+ shows in their home over the past 15 years. What a legacy!

Do House Concert Hosts get a Free CD?

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Photo by Jess Phillips. Listening Room Festival 2019.

A gratitude mindset has served me well over the years. One of the things that I’ve always found odd is that some artists get hung up about giving their house concert host a free CD.

Yes. An artist’s work has value and they shouldn’t be compelled by someone else to give it away for free. But the act of volunteering a gift to someone can often have a lovely effect.

Who should be grateful? The host who gets a personalized performance from a national touring artist in their home? Or the artist who’s been given a captive audience and a warm reception?

Of course, the answer is both.

Sometimes the host will take the lead and offer to buy a CD. Sometimes the artist can take the lead and offer a free keepsake or memento.

Here’s a scenario that’s played out for me (as an artist) many times after a house concert.

ME: (Presenting a signed CD.) I’d like you to have this. Thanks for putting this event together.

HOST: Oh. I want to pay for it.

ME: I’d like to give it to you.

HOST: No. I insist on paying for it. I always buy a CD from the artists. You need the money.

ME: Thank you. That’s very kind. (Taking the money, and presenting something else – another CD, a shirt, or something.) OK. Now you have to accept this gift from me.  8^)

Host then offers – come back and stay with us anytime you’re in this region… here’s some food for the road… marry my daughter… etc.

Lesson: If it’s a point of pride for the host to purchase something… let them. And THEN give them something else as a thank you. [hint: you should have more than one thing for sale.]

Gratitude. It’s so inexpensive in the long run.

 

 

RSVP automation for LRN hosts and venues!

new features at LRN

Have you ever lost an attendee or two, because

  • you didn’t reply to their RSVP soon enough or at all?
  • you forgot to send them a reminder email, and they forgot about their commitment to you?

Or maybe you get it done every time, but would enjoy a little automation?

We’ve made substantial improvements for hosts and venues in our network, to solve these problems for you.

Our new RSVP system now has the following:

  1. Auto-confirmations – RSVPs can receive an automatic reply saying “confirmed!” with instructions, directions, etc.
  2. Customized confirmation/reminder messages – use the prepared template, and/or add anything you wish.
  3. Auto-reminders – 2 days before your show, confirmed RSVPs get a reminder message.
  4. FULL – setting if you’d like to stop getting RSVPs for a particular event.

We have a lot more planned as well, including a “wait list” setting and guest list printout.

In the next few months we’ll also be promoting our new fan memberships, to help boost attendance at your shows.

So take a minute to list your upcoming shows, try out the new stuff, and maybe connect with some new people!

Notice the RSVPs (30) and the (auto) confirmation setting in the image below!

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