What is a house concert?
We get asked this question all the time!
A house concert is an event in someone's home where an artist comes to perform in an intimate, listening environment. The host invites anywhere from 15 - 100+ of their closest friends, co-workers, family members, neighbors, etc. to experience a concert they'll never forget, all while supporting an independent touring musician.
House concerts can be set up in a variety of ways. There are no rules, just guidelines. We've performed dozens of house concerts and every single one is different. With our experience, we've developed a good grasp on what works best for us, the host, and the audience. If you’re interested after reading this, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process!
How much does it cost?
There are a couple options when it comes to the finances of hosting a house concert with us:
Suggested Donations: At most house concerts, the host will ask attendees to contribute a "suggested donation" in exchange for attending the show. We've found that an open-ended ask of $10-20 per person works wonderfully as it allows people to donate what feels appropriate to them. 100% of these donations go directly to the artist.
Flat Fee/Guarantee: Sometimes the host would rather pay us a flat fee. Please email us for a quote if this is what you would prefer.
A note on Minimum Guarantees
When setting up a house concert, hosts tell us how many people they expect to be in attendance. We keep track of this information so that we can project our income/expenses. However, sometimes bad weather, town functions, or even festivals happen to fall on the same date and cuts attendance in half or worse.
The LAST thing we want is for a host to feel badly about low attendance when it’s out of their control. Financially speaking, it takes a lot of pressure off of us if a host agrees to a minimum financial guarantee to ensure that our costs are covered.
A note on cancelling a House Concert
The two of us handle all of our own tour booking, which is a full-time job in itself. A majority of the shows have to be solidified and routes need to be drawn out almost a year before we plan on leaving our home.
Most of the time, if a host needs to cancel 6+ months before our scheduled house concert, we are able to find a replacement host/venue. If we are given any less notice than that, it becomes nearly impossible to find a suitable replacement.
We completely understand that sometimes plans change. If you end up needing to cancel our house concert, we would greatly appreciate being compensated with a minimum guarantee, as well as a stipend for lodging and a meal.
How Do I Invite People?
There are a variety of ways to get the word out about a house concert:
Word of Mouth
Passing out flyers to your friends and neighbors (we would happily design one for you)
If you're open to meeting new, music-loving people, we've also seen hosts use online groups such as MeetUp to advertise their concerts.
The main points to cover when inviting people are:
Sara and Kenny, a married, eclectic musical duo are coming to perform in your home!
Briefly explain what a house concert is.
There will be a suggested cash donation.
100% of the proceeds go directly to the touring artist.
What time you want your friends to begin showing up (usually an hour before concert).
What time our performance will start.
At some house concerts, the host will ask friends to bring a dish to share before the performance. This can be anything from a bottle of wine, appetizer, dessert, or a full dish for a potluck.
IS MY HOUSE BIG ENOUGH?
Something we often hear a potential host say is that they would love to do a house concert, but feel like their home is too small. That is, almost always, not the case. Rooms can be deceiving when it comes to how many people can fit in the space comfortably.
When mapping out a performance space in your home, it is usually best to choose the largest common room. Once you've picked the room, arrange the seating to face where you envision us performing. When setting up, the goal is to turn this room into your own, mini-concert hall.
We enjoy our audience to sit close to us. It creates an immediate energy and connection which allows for a fun, conversational concert. It is best to have the seating arranged close to us before the audience begins to arrive.
For our performance needs, we ask for is the following:
An electrical outlet (either directly behind us or in close proximity)
Space for our sound system and microphone stands. We tour with a Bose L1 Model 1S sound system. It is a professional, compact, quality system which works extremely well for what we do. It works best if we perform at least a few feet in front of the speaker.
Indoors vs. Outdoors?
When performing outside, there are two main things that could work against us:
Sound travels and it has very few spots to reverberate when we are outdoors. With the stripped nature of our performances, it is important to keep the sound contained as much as possible.
One of the greatest things about house concerts is the energy that performers and audience feel when the focus is on the music and the stories. When indoors, there is an environment conducive to listening. In most cases when outdoors, there are more distractions.
That being said, there have been a few outdoor house concerts where the audience was instructed about the listening environment and the setting had some natural acoustics. Those concerts ended up being amazing nights.
We trust your judgement when it comes to what will work best for you and your audience.
It’s the Day of the concert! What now?
Here is a helpful checklist of things that will guide you through the day of the concert:
Send a friendly reminder about your house concert to your invite list. In this reminder include the time, address, and the suggested donation.
Create a list of people who will be attending. This is for your records and you or a volunteer can cross names off of it as they arrive.
Place at least one jar or bucket in a heavily trafficked area for attendees to put their suggested donations. It works best when the jar is placed near the front door or near the potluck area.
Attach a sign to the jar or bucket that says something like: "Donations: 100% goes to Sara and Kenny."
Make an announcement 5-10 minutes before the performance, instructing guests to grab a refreshment and take their seats.
At most house concerts, the host will make a short introduction right before we begin performing. In this introduction it is best to mention that it is a listening environment, there is a jar for their suggested donations, and that we have merchandise for sale during the intermission and after the performance. If you plan on hosting more house concerts, consider having an email sign-up list so you can easily inform your audience about the next one.
After the introduction, we will take it from there so you can enjoy the evening. We typically perform two 40-45 minute sets with an intermission. If it is a weekday, we may suggest simply performing one longer set. Whichever works.
Things to know about us.
We get the chance to meet so many wonderful people along our travels who go out of their way to make us feel at home. If you have never met us before, here's a short list of things to know about us:
We have no dietary restrictions and are huge foodies! If your corner of the world is famous for any food or beverage, we’d love to try it. That being said, touring can be hard on our diet and we prefer to eat mostly vegetarian on the road. If possible, we prefer to eat at least an hour before we perform.
We sometimes have work to catch up on once we arrive, so an available Wi-Fi connection is always appreciated.
If we are spending the night at your home, we are married and can share one bed/sofa.
If we are not staying the night at your home, a private room for us to warm-up is very helpful.