Do you love independent musicians or bands? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have them sing in your very own home? There is a growing trend towards intimate music venues and a house gig is about as intimate of a performance as it gets. House concerts are ideally a win-win: it's great for you because you get to have an awesome party. It's great for your musician because he/she gets to perform to an appreciative and captive audience AND make some income.
Here is our recipe for successful house concerts:
Ingredients: • A musician • A house • A room large enough to accommodate 25 people or more (seated and/or standing) • PA system or "rig" as they call it in the industry. Ask your musician if they need this, if they will bring their own or if you need to borrow one from a friend. • music stand • small table or space to set drinks, guitar picks, capos or anything else that needs to be handy during the performance • lighting for the "stage". This can be string lights, lamps etc. • Tip jar • Promotional materials and images • beer, water, snacks or any other merry-making supplies • chairs and blankets for seating
• A Merch table for promotional materials (CDs, T-shirts etc) and a person to watch over it and work sales as guests arrive or leave. • enthusiastic, generous, art & music appreciating guests!
6+ weeks ahead of concert:
Contact the artist and establish a mutually agreeable date. Clarify overnight, travel and day-of accommodations (we host ours as guests in our home). You are not expected to pay for travel expenses or hotels etc. House concerts are usually casual and low budget affairs but it's always good to clarify. Ask the artist what their minimum pay expectation and/or guest count preference is. They may expect a price range per guest, or minimum payment from you etc. Remember that this artist's performance is their job for which they expect to be paid. We consider it our privilege to have this experience and make every effort to not only meet their financial expectations but to exceed them!
Ask the artist if there are any contractual restrictions for the promotion of this concert. Some record labels don't allow the gig to be publicized. Let your musician know whether you want them to make the gig public, post it on their social media or to keep it private.
Be a promoter!
Put your promotional materials together. Your musician probably has photographs, album cover images and more to help you with this. Create an image that has the photo plus the details of your event (date, time, address and website of artist) and save it as a jpg file. A great user-friendly website to combine photos with text is here. Here is an example from our show:
4-6 weeks out Use your promotional photo to send out save the dates or invitations. Use your Facebook to create an event and invite friends, make an e-vite and email everyone, print out a few cards and hand them out etc. Offer links to your musician's website, albums on iTunes, YouTube videos and more.
Get the word out by personally inviting people and follow up with friends once the invitations have been issued. This is new to many people and they might have questions or wonder what will be going on during the gig. Click here for a sample from my email I sent out to family and friends.
Bonus: Do you have a friend who is a local musician? Someone who loves to play but doesn't do it professionally? Ask them to be the opening act! We've had friends do this and it adds to the spirit of the night and gets your guests warmed up for a great night.
One week out: Send everyone a reminder of your event. People are busy!
Double check with your musician on any last minute travel details or gig needs.
Day of the event: 2-4 hours before the event starts, set up the staging area, arrange the gear, plug it in and run a sound check with the musician. Get everything ready to just walk on stage and start the show!
Clear out your audience area and set up coolers, tables of food etc.
Give your musician/s whatever they need to prepare for the show. Do they want food or drinks while they get ready? Do they want to be left alone whole guests arrive? Honor that.
Show time! Introduce your musician and let guests know what to expect. We give a little background of the artist, where they are from, what albums are out and why we invited them into our home. We tell guests where the bathrooms are, where the drinks are, where to sit, and to be generous when the tip jar comes around. If there is a merchandise table set up, let them know where it is and what they can get there (CDs, Tshirts etc).
Enjoy the evening!
These are photos from our house concert last year with Mark Dignam. You can read the review of the show here and listen to him talk about the music industry and how he fits into it here on The Juice Cast.