Kickstarter for Listening Room Network

We can no longer maintain the value of recorded music. Anything recorded is available for free. The people who pay for music usually do it because it is coupled with another experience; typically, a live one.

More than ever, we have to affirm the value and the experience of live music.

House concerts have answered the call, allowing volunteers across the globe to affirm their deep love of music and artists by hosting concerts, offering their spaces, their time, and their friends. ConcertsInYourHome has led the way for more than a decade.

In just a few days we’ll be going live with our first-ever Kickstarter Campaign. We’re taking the ConcertsInYourHome community to the next level, and creating a support system for public listening rooms as well.

We started this work in 2006, and while that put us at the forefront of house concert movement, it also means that our sprawling internet platform is dated and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up.

We have some really nice plans for the needs of our community, and we’re looking to include more friends on our journey.

Some of the perks we’ll include are (of course) music, and a very nifty, soft first-ever Listening Room Network t-shirt – our coolest design yet.

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Our campaign also features rewards linked to our Listening Room Festival in St. Petersburg, FL – VIP tickets, hotel packages, sponsorships, and more. This is a wonderful and unique festival, designed to inspire hosts from all over the world to meet their tribe – in person, surrounded by great music. Our biggest contributors can even co-create a Listening Room Festival in their home region, based on the platform and reputation we’ve already developed.

Another set of rewards focus around the music and expertise of Fran Snyder, the founder of CIYH who toured a million miles with his acoustic guitar and original songs before directing his energy and passion into this network. You can book Fran for a house concert as well as a house concert workshop, designed to inspire more activity in your area.

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After 11 years of work, there’s no doubting our commitment to helping and growing this community. Today we face an opportunity together – let’s create the resources and new friends we need to make this community more vibrant than ever.

The campaign starts October 27th. Subscribe to get the first look at the campaign and exclusive rewards.

2017-10-13

 

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The importance of video (reprise)

 

As I’ve said before, when a host is trying to decide who they want to volunteer to host (volunteer = work for no pay), they need to be impressed, comforted, and confident about their choice. The number one place they seek that is the first video in your CIYH profile (or wherever you send them.)

I thought I would ask our community of hosts directly… what is the first thing you look for/at when an artist sends an email about playing your series? Have a look at the responses — two thirds go “straight to video.”

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Recently, one of our member artists inquired if I could give her ideas about why she wasn’t connecting with hosts on our site. What do you think I did?

I went to her profile and looked at her first video. She’s talented, and the video is well-shot, but it’s not her best song and the groove just feels off. More importantly, it’s not her best video, but it’s the one she has used since she joined. She has never experimented or updated her profile to see if she might get different results.

Are you using YOUR favorite video, or the one that impresses OTHER people? Experiment, try something new, see what happens. Artists need to grow and try new things… but none of that matters if you don’t share it.

Choosing the right video, one that you might already have, can make a huge difference in your booking results. Imagine 10% more gigs… that could be thousands of dollars in a year’s time.

Thousands of dollars. It’s worth trying and testing something new.

Outdoor vs Indoor Concerts – which is better?

One of the most appealing things about house concerts is the cozy atmosphere that living rooms provide. That said, there are many hosts who prefer to host in gardens, backyards, and patios when possible.
The first trade-off to consider is weather. No artist (or host) wants to have a show canceled due to bad weather, so a backup plan (indoors) is almost always necessary. If you live in a seasonally dry/comfortable area, like California, you can get away with more outdoor events.
The second trade-off is intimacy. Some people do have a cozy garden area with natural barriers or walls to keep people close to the performer, but in general it isn’t AS cosy as an indoor show. An outdoor show almost always requires a sound system since you don’t get the acoustic benefit of walls to keep the sound in.
The third trade-off is safety. This can be a very minor point, but you do have to watch for people falling into a pool, tripping over tree roots, etc. Most homes have additional concerns when inviting guests into the yard.
Lastly, an outdoor show requires friendlier neighbors. Generally, classical or folk and acoustic concerts are not very loud, and most residential areas have relaxed “noise” standards for events that take place at reasonable hours. That said, if you are hosting a band, you should be checking with your neighbors and inviting them to attend. If Alice Cooper lives next door, you’re probably O.K.
Outdoor shows can have their own delightfulness when the weather is perfect, especially if the audience is attentive and close. Compared to a living room show,  a backyard event can typically accommodate a larger band and a larger audience, which is often the main reason a host will choose to indoor shows.
As noted above, indoor shows have more advantages, especially for hosts who can’t draw a large crowd. There’s something very satisfying about having a “full house,” and choosing a limited space can makes it easier to create that feeling of a successful event.

Press Release – House Concert Workshop during LRFest weekend. 4/22/17

For Immediate Release

A house concert workshop has been scheduled for April 22nd, as part of the Listening Room Festival.

The workshop is led by Fran Snyder, the founder of ConcertsInYourHome.com – the leading resource for house concerts around the world. Anyone interested in hosting house concerts is welcome to attend.

House concerts are an old tradition that has become vital to the careers of independent touring artists. With the shifting sands of technology and the music business, artists have found that the live experience is not easily duplicated (cheapened) and the intimacy of playing in close, homey quarters provides todays best opportunity to sell CDs and merchandise as well.

ConcertsInYourHome educates and inspires music fans to put on concerts in their living rooms, backyards, and other interesting locations. Some of these music fans make house concerts their hobby of choice, hosting 6-12 concerts per year for friends and invited guests.

The workshop takes place during the 6th annual Listening Room Festival – a gathering attended by house concert hosts and fans from around the world. Attendees have 20 house concerts to choose from over 5 days, and the main event is a showcase at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, featuring all 6 festival acts.

Workshop will include Q&A session and handouts for attendees. Topics will include building an audience, collaborating with other hosts, suggested donations, common mistakes, and some breakthrough ideas.

LRFest Meeting and House Concert Workshop.
Saturday, April 22

Staybridge Suites (meeting room)
940 5th Ave S
St. Petersburg, FL 33705

10am – 11am – breakfast and meet/greet
11am – Festival feedback
11:30am – HC workshop, Q&A based on your advance questions
1pm – wrap-up

The workshop is free for those who register in advance at this link. ($5 at the door if not registered.)

Inquiries: Fran Snyder   727-280-6208, fran at ListeningRoomNetwork.com   Press Photos

http://www.ListeningRoomFestival.com, http://www.ConcertsInYourHome.com

 

 

 

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. 

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?

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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.

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.

 

Your Most Important House Concert Volunteers

 

Your Most Important House Concert Volunteers

 

1. Door Person

2. Food/Drinks Person

3. Furniture/Set-Up Person

4. Parking Person

5. Co-Promoter

 

Every house concert is different, and every host brings their own set of skills to the process of putting on an event. If there’s one thing that holds back the success of most house concerts, it’s the failure to recruit (ask for) volunteers. 

 

Many of us are resigned to grit out the work. We do the dishes, the laundry, the taxes, the yard, and so on because it’s easier in the short run to grit it out instead of training, coaxing or paying someone else to do it well enough. Lucky for you, music and house concerts are inspiring! Why else would you be reading this?

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to inspire volunteers who can help you make your house concerts easier and more enjoyable for everyone. You might even offer perks like reserved seats, come early for dinner, or welcome their input when selecting future acts for your concerts.

 

For most hosts (asked at ConcertsInYourHome.com) the most important volunteer is the person at the door. 99% of artists would agree. 

 

The Door

 

One of the biggest challenges when starting a house concert series is getting everyone to make the suggested donation. Paying money to enter a home is a new thing for most people, and it requires diligence on the part of the host to make no one is surprised by the “suggested donation” principle when they arrive. 

 

We’ve found it’s best to have a suggested donation with an actual amount, even a range, and an encouragement to be generous if possible. 

 

For example: 

Suggested Donation: 

$15-20 per person. 

Be generous if you can – all donations go to the performers.

 

This information should be in all invitations and emails about the show. In addition, that sign should be on a BIG GLASS JAR, next to a printout of your guest list, and all of this should be on a table by the entrance so that no one can miss it.

 

 

 

How the Door Volunteer Helps

 

If there’s a good-sized crowd, it can be nearly impossible for a host to watch the door and be a gracious host for the artists and guests. 

 

When guests enter the home, there are several ways they can become distracted and miss the donation jar. They might recognize someone they know and immediately get pulled into a conversation and drift away. They might walk in with wine, food, or snacks and decide to go unload in the kitchen, and never make it back to the suggested donation. Finally, despite many reminders by the host “If you haven’t made your donation yet…” they might (wrongly) decide to buy a CD instead of making the donation. CDs are extra… and you don’t want to allow guests to take advantage of your artists this way. 

 

All of these behaviors can be prevented by a door volunteer.

 

Your door-person greets guests, and asks them to cross their names off the guest list and make their suggested donation. If there’s a dish, the volunteer can bring it to the kitchen for them and quickly resume their post. 

 

“Hello! Welcome to the house concert. Please cross your names off the guest list and make your suggested donation – be generous if you can. Here, let me take that dish to the counter for you.” [Or “here, let me hold that dish for you.”]

 

What is an acceptable “no-pay” percentage?

 

The easy answer is “0.” If all guests have been invited properly, with the suggested donation clearly stated, then all guests are expected to pay something, even if it’s not in the suggested range. That said, we rarely expect the hosts to pay (unless they are covering a guarantee or making up for a few non-paying guests (usually family.)

 

Since you are operating with a suggested donation, and asking people to be generous if they can, those who underpay may be offset by those who give a little more. While it’s not the end of the world if a couple of people don’t pay, it sets a bad example going forward… do they get to NOT pay every time? How many people get this privilege?

 

Volunteers are expected to pay if possible. Try to reward them in some other way (preferred seats, pre-show dinner, etc.) unless you are happy to contribute for them. If you have a large number of attendees it may be OK to have a few volunteers not pay. 

 

Your door person is there to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to pay, but the host should also make an announcement before and after the first set if it seems like there may have been a few who missed. If your door person does their job well, you can make a better pitch (talking less) for the purchase of CDs and souvenirs.

 

It’s rare that artists will make a fuss, but if the donations clearly don’t match the number of attendees, they will be disappointed. Remember, you aren’t asking people to volunteer to mow your lawn. This is a fun thing. Ask for help. People love to feel valued, and your volunteers can be the most effective promoters of your concerts. 

 

I’ll cover the next most critical volunteer in the next post.