Currently (June-Sept. 2018) I am touring the Northwest, Alaska, West Coast, and Southwest as a solo singer, songwriter, and piano player. I have keyboards, amplifier and everything required for all sizes and shapes of rooms or patios. If you have a piano great, I would love to play on it as long as it's tuned!
I’ve played numerous house concerts over the past several years and no two are the same. I’ve played for 3 to 25+ people. There’s something about playing in someone’s home that is special. It fosters a deeper connection than a public venue can – both between me and the audience and between audience members themselves.
Host contacts me and we pick a date, choose a suggested donation amount (to go directly to artist) and discuss details. Host invites guests then concert happens, everybody's happy. Also there's usually food/drink in there somehow too, as well as lodging for the artist and partner, or at least a shower to use since we will most likely be coming from somewhere else and I may need to pretty up a little bit!
If this is all you need and you're ready to talk about a house concert, Contact Me. If not, read on!
House concerts are great for hosts and guests because they not only create a unique and intimate concert experience, but they also offer a clear and direct channel for hosts/guests to support an independent artist. House concerts are great for artists for those same reasons, and are usually a far more viable financial model than playing in clubs. Translation: house concerts go a long way toward keeping artists afloat.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE WE TALKING HERE?
My house concert audiences have ranged from as few as 5 people up to 25+. Smaller shows can happen during the week, but in order to keep the train on the tracks, weekend shows should be 10-15 people at least.
I DON’T KNOW IF I HAVE ROOM
You’d be surprised what you can pull off by moving some furniture around and bringing in kitchen chairs, etc. This 1 minute video shows how one host does it, and this 3+ minute video is a great intro to hosting that also addresses house space concerns
HOW DOES THE SCHEDULE WORK?
It's flexible, but usually it goes something like this: I’ll play for 1 to 1 1/2 hours broken up into 1 or 2 sets, depending on the audience. You’ll want to allow about 30-60 minutes before show time for guests to arrive, get a snack/drink, visit, make their donation and find a seat. Before that, I need time to arrive, set up my stuff, relax and prepare for concert before guests arrive. Starting times vary.
HOW DOES THE MONEY WORK?
Basically, guests pay a suggested donation amount that goes directly to the artist (it's best to let your guests know of this donation prior to them showing up). I usually do a suggested donation amount between $10 and $20 and nobody is turned away if they can't pay the donation.
Here are 3 scenarios regarding how the $ can work:
1 - traditional house concert style - suggested donation is collected from attending guests, artist gets whatever’s collected at the end of the night
2 - traditional plus - same as above but with a minimum guarantee from the host
3 - private party style - host pays artist a flat performance fee and guests attend no charge
I've done all three, but my first choice is scenario #2 for several reasons. It's obviously best for me to know I'll walk out with a certain amount of $ at the end of the night, especially when I'm traveling and it's a weekend night, or when I have other musicians to pay. A guarantee also sometimes helps motivate hosts to make sure the house is full of folks paying the suggested donation amount so the host doesn't have to cover it. ;) Overall I have found the concert experience to be more rewarding when guests pay a suggested donation (vs. just coming to a host-sponsored party) because everyone's frame of mind is that of a concert as opposed to a party with music in the background. People really connect with the music more when they know they're directly supporting the artist.
If a host is not in a position to offer any kind of guarantee it's not necessarily a deal-breaker. It's nice for me to have one and know I at least won't leave without a certain amount in case there are a significant number of no-shows. But, again, it's not necessarily required.
There are no rules around these, per se, only guidelines and what works for each situation. Only true cost is whatever food or drink the host decides to provide and there are dozens of ways that can go, including potluck or having a few friends go in on that with you.
I would love to chat with you if you think you might be interested. Inquiring doesn't equal obligation, I would be happy to just answer questions.