First what is a House Concert?
House concerts are, quite simply, concerts performed in people’s homes. Sometimes they are also called Living Room Concerts. They are a sit down informal, intimate, generally acoustic/unplugged performances that both artists and fans, alike, enjoy. The concerts can be performed in living rooms of apartments/homes, back yards or even in a garage/driveway.
While house concerts are nothing new, they are getting more and more attention in the media. And musicians are considering them in addition to – as well as an alternative to – playing clubs.
Here are some things you might want to think while planning your event:
In most living-room-type situations, some performers prefer using no sound equipment—it’s a revelation for many people to experience truly unplugged music, without the barriers of mic stands and speakers. But some performers use sound reinforcement, they keep it simple and unobtrusive as possible. Just a touch of amplification goes a long way.
Outdoors, performers will likely need some kind of PA for instruments and voices to carry. They won’t be blasting people out, though. However, letting neighbors know about your event in advance, and asking if they have questions or concerns, is an important courtesy. In my own backyard shows, I’ve even had immediate neighbors set up their own satellite parties where they can hear the music.
Invite your friends and neighbors, and encourage them to spread the word to their friends too. In hosting house concerts, I’ve found that people come not because they necessarily know the performer but because hearing live music in this kind of down-home environment is such a special experience. So invite as many people as you can normally 25 people is a good minimum for the performer. So remember the more the better.
Typically the invitation includes only the date, the town/city, and the host’s email address for inquiries. When you confirm a reservation, you supply the street address and other details.
If you’re hosting a show and want to limit the guest list to your friends, just discuss that with the performer in advance.
Send your invitations a month or so before the concert, and ask people to reserve seats. You can use email or a site like Eventbrite that automatically tracks RSVPs. You will probably need to send a few reminders in the weeks leading up to the show.
Creating a Facebook event and inviting friends that way can be helpful, but I recommend using email as well. In my experience, email reservations are far more reliable than Facebook RSVPs as an indicator of who will actually come to an event.
A few tips for invitations:
- Stress that space is limited and reservations are required.
- Describe (briefly) what a house concert is and how it works, including the suggested donation, for the uninitiated.
- Share your own enthusiasm for the music—that’s the best way to draw an audience!
- Include YouTube and website links where people can sample the music and learn more.
- Even if people make firm reservations, assume that a few will back out at the last minute because of illness, weather, etc. If your reservations hit capacity, keep a waiting list or even overbook a bit so seats don’t go empty.
Instead of tickets, there’s a suggested donation (typically $10 to $20) for the performer. You can put a donation basket in a location where people will see it as they enter or leave, and/or pass the basket when everyone is seated. Be sure to remind people about the donation at the beginning of the concert or at intermission.
Since people generally carry less cash these days, accepting donations electronically is a good idea. In the invitation to a recent house concert, I included PayPal and Venmo links for optional donations, and most of the donations came in advance that way.
Some touring artists these days do house concerts for a flat fee, and it’s up to the host whether to cover that amount or ask guests for donations.
A typical concert is two 45-minute sets with a 15 to 20-minute intermission. It’s nice to have some socializing time beforehand too, so you might tell people the show is (for instance) doors at 7 or 7:30, music at 8.
The artist might want to sell their merch so find a good spot for laying out CDs and other merchandise, where there’s room for people to congregate and chat.
Food and drink
If you like, you can offer drinks and snacks and/or invite people to bring something to share. Some house concerts even include a pot-luck meal.
For any artist on tour, a room for the night and a home-cooked meal is greatly appreciated.
If you’re interested in hosting a house concert with me, find more info here.
Remember, in the end, not to sweat the small stuff. Hosting a House Concert always has the potential to stress anyone out. As long as you keep communication open between all parties involved (musicians, guests, neighbors), all should go well and a fun time shall be had by all.