Category Archives: house concert how-to

Don’t Support Live Music…

Relish it.

Savor it.

Share it.

Promote it.

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.

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Do You Have to Cancel the House Concert at your place?

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!

Can the opener’s guest attend for free?

A performer asks,

“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?”

 

——
House concerts with opening acts tend to be the exception rather than the rule. The general feeling I have (and many agree) is that it usually creates a 3rd set and a second intermission, and stretches the night too long, even if it’s just 3-4 songs. If the main act is only playing one set, then openers makes more sense, but we find that to be unusual too.

Well established hosts are often deeply committed to maximizing revenue for the main act (that’s why they are so in demand). They also might be stretching themselves with a guarantee they might not fully cover with donations… in those cases, it would make sense to have a “no freebie” policy, since any unpaid guest might come out of their own pocket – especially if there’s an agent counting heads.

If the show will be completely full, then a freebie admission is either costing the main artist or the host. If there are plenty of open seats, then it comes down to principles.

  • 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!

Gratitude seems to be a great way to approach things, especially if the relationship with the host is one you want to keep or improve.

How long should house concerts be?

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.

Here’s why.

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.

TenTen Concerts

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.

More on TenTen here.

 

 

 

Press Release: House Concert workshop during Listening Room Festival

For Immediate Release

A house concert workshop has been scheduled for April 21nd, 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 21

Marriott Courtyard (meeting room)
300 4th St N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 450-6200

10am – 11am – coffee 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

 

 

 

Political music and speech at concerts…

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.

Fran Snyder

Kickstarter for Listening Room Network

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Subscribe to get the first look at the campaign

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

 

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.”

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 7.50.10 PM

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