For those of you who might be interested in hosting a house concert, but aren't sure if you're up for it, here's the low down.
Hope to see you in your living room!
HOW TO HOST A HOUSE CONCERT:
You can have a great party and world-class music right in your own home or the home of a neighbor. There’s no experience quite like it for the listener or presenter. The definition is flexible, but generally, a house concert is a show that’s presented in someone’s home, or a nearby private space (barn, backyard, shearing tent, you name it).
· Usually, but not always, the audience capacity is smaller than at a coffeehouse or club. (Often the size of your living or dining room! 20-50 people.) Weekend nights or Sunday evenings usually work best, especially for first-time hosts.
· The money collected usually (but not always) goes straight to the performers. Sometimes the artist and the host can work out a split where the host takes a percentage for his/her costs, if the host provided food or drinks.
· House concerts are usually conducted “by invitation,” rather than as public concerts like a club or concert hall - like having a house party - but this is always up to the host.
· Frequently, there is little or no sound system - performers play and sing acoustically, unless you have an amp available, would like to rent one, or the performer brings his or her own. The only situation where a sound system is necessary is if you choose to host your event in a large space (a church or rec center), or out side (in a tent or pavilion).
· "Lighting, chairs?" You can use your own chairs, pillows, cushions, and improvise with lamps, or choose to rent a few folding chairs at 50 cents each from a party store if absolutely necessary. Again, it's like having a party.
· Refreshments are usually either a “pot luck” brought by the listeners, or provided by the hosts. Refreshments can be simple or elaborate, donated by guests as a pot luck, or your choice. Some hosts choose to offer a full-scale dinner and drinks, and charge more per head in order to cover their costs.
· A typical suggested donation per person is $10-15, depending on the artist and the environment. "New" artists or new house concert series often start at a suggestion of $10 with a dish or snack to share, and with folks encourages to give more, or buy CDs and merch, if they feel so inclined. If a full dinner, drinks, desserts is provided, the suggested donation can range from $20-30.
If you’re asking: “Why would my favorite artists be willing to come play a small show in my home or barn??” Performers can round out schedules profitably while building new markets, and usually enjoy the opportunity to interact with an appreciative audience at close range. You in turn will bring an unforgettable, intimate concert experience to your guests.
If you're asking: "Will this be difficult to pull off?" No. It's pretty much the same thing as hosting a pot luck or dinner party, just with the added element of music. Guests are asked to arrive anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour before, then the artists play a set (30-45 minutes), take a 15-30 minute break, play another set (30-45 minutes), and then the social/party part of the night can wind down, or last as long as you like. Many artists have had experience with house concerts before, and would be happy to help coach you through the process.
Resources: Check out www.OutbackNebraska.com or www.MemphisHouseConcerts.com to see an example of an extremely professionally-run house concert series. Also, see www.ConcertsInYourHome.com if you’re considering setting up a series of your own.
**reprinted with permission by Tori Sparks, www.ToriSparks.com**