You Always Wanted to Know about House Concerts
House concerts are rapidly becoming the most popular way to enjoy
acoustic music. At a house concert, listeners enjoy the music of talented
artists in an intimate, "up-close and personal" setting.
House concert enthusiasts rave about hearing great music in an informal,
smoke-free atmosphere, while relaxing on cozy couches, next to the
fireplace, in someone's living room. Hosts enjoy having their favorite
performers stay and eat with them in their home (not to mention the
kudos they get from their friends for throwing the best party on the
block). Musicians have said that they get the most attentive audiences
they've ever had while making more money than they do in bars or cafés.
The hours are excellent and the accommodations included. It's a win-win
situation for everyone!
Below are some FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions) about house concerts.
If you are interested in being a host or would like more information,
please contact Jody at firstname.lastname@example.org
Who hosts house concerts?
House concert hosts are folks that enjoy and want to support acoustic
music and independent artists. Some people are one-timers, and other
enthusiasts host regular, ongoing music series in their homes.
Does the host make money on a house concert?
Most house concerts are hosted by people who do it for the sheer love
of the music. They want to support the artist and expose their friends
to his/her music, and they enjoy entertaining in their home. Typically,
all the money collected at the door goes to the performer. However,
hosts sometimes do make agreements with the artists to take a portion
of the collection to cover expenses for things such as renting chairs,
xeroxing flyers, coffee, etc. These arrangements are always discussed
and agreed upon beforehand. More often than not, the host agrees to
absorb any small costs and simply considers it a usual expense involved
with throwing a party.
What kind of space is needed for a house concert?
A living room or family room that holds 20-30 people will suffice.
It doesn't need to be a fancy space. People can sit on couches, folding
chairs, backjacks, or pillows on the floor. Concerts can also be held
in barns, on decks, or on lawns, although usually a sound system is
needed for outdoor events. If planning an outdoor performance, a host
must be able to accommodate people indoors in case of bad weather.
In addition, the artist will need a table set up to sell CDs and tapes,
and a guest room to stay the night (it need not be extravagant).
How much does it cost?
It doesn't cost you, the host, any more than having a regular party.
Perhaps you might provide some snacks and beverages. The guests pay
for the music by making a donation at the door, which is usually $10.00.
Some hosts prefer to offer a sliding scale of $5-15 to accommodate
guests with varying financial situations. In any case, no one who
really wants to hear the music is turned away. Most artists need to
make a minimum of $200 in order to make ends meet. Some hosts prefer
to simply offer the performer a set fee and cover the cost of the
music themselves, rather than ask their guests to pay money. However,
in the folk music world, most concertgoers are happy to pay a reasonable
admission charge in order to hear quality live music in an intimate,
comfortable setting. In addition to providing the performance space,
hosts put performers up in their homes overnight and provide their
meals during their stay.
How long is the concert?
Typically, the performer will play two sets of music, usually about
40-45 minutes in length, with a break in between. The guests usually
arrive a half-hour before the concert starts, and there is also time
for socializing and sharing food in between sets and at the end of
the performance. Some hosts prefer to have the musician play one longer
set rather than two shorter ones. Most artists are amenable to doing
whatever fits in best with the event.
Is the performer providing background music?
No. Guests need to know that this is not a cocktail party-it is a
concert. Most often, the artist is playing unamplified and really
needs to be listened to. There is time to socialize before and after
the concert, as well as during the break.
What about alcohol and cigarettes?
Some artists are comfortable with moderate amounts of alcohol, while
some are not. Most singer/songwriters do not like playing to a crowd
of sloppy-drunk people. Cigarettes are a major drag for most performers.
It is encouraged to have smoking restricted to outside only. It is
important to remind guests that house concerts are meant to be an
alternative to the bar scene.
I've decided to host a house concert. How do I spread the word?
The artist will provide you with materials such as preprinted invitation
postcards that you can send or hand out to friends. E-mail and word
of mouth are also essential. Ask everyone to bring a few friends,
and really talk it up as a special event. Some hosts will open the
concert to the public, and will publicize it by putting up a flyer
or submitting a notice to the arts calendar in their local newspaper.
The artist can also include the event in his/her promotions of upcoming
performances( with the host's permission). Only the first name and
phone number of the host is listed, so people must call for directions
and reservations. This way, the host is able to screen people before
inviting them into their home. Please be aware that you need to invite
at least twice as many people as you expect to show. It is very difficult
for performers who have traveled a long way to play for only a handful
of people. This is how they make their living, so vigorous publicity
is essential. Publicity and invitations should go out 3 weeks in advance.
Follow-up phone calls are very helpful.
Who provides food at a house concert?
Typically, the guests are asked to bring a snack, dessert, or finger
food to share during the break. The host often makes coffee or provides
some beverages. Some hosts prefer to have everyone show up early for
a pot luck dinner before the show. It all depends on everyone's energy
level, the night of the week, etc. Keeping it simple usually works
What about children?
Children are usually welcome. House concerts are ideal family events.
As in any performance situation, parents must agree to remove small
children who are being disruptive. If there are several children attending,
it is usually wise to designate a room in the house where they can
go play if they donšt want to hear the music.
So those are the basic nuts and bolts of house concert production.
If you are interested in having Jody Kessler play in your home, contact
her at email@example.com