articles and tips from Fran Snyder and concertsinyourhome.com
Will your fans be a part of the NEW audience?
One of the great things about house concerts is that they create new fans. People who are otherwise not engaged with live music are invited to attend a special event, in a friend’s home, and find themselves to be a fan of live music (again) at the end of the evening.
These might be professionals who fell out of the habit of going to concerts, or felt increasingly out of place in the noisy venues populated by kids half their age. All of sudden, they want back in, as long as it can be like this - the intimate, soulful setting of a house concert.
Yet most of your fans are missing out on this experience. Sure, you’ve asked them to host you a few times but the timing wasn’t right, the idea was confusing or, most likely, they felt that a house concert would be too much responsibility and too many people for their home.
That’s alright - hosting house concerts is a special thing, and it’s not for everybody. But what about a DinnerAndSong event? 6-10 people, 90 minutes (total!) program, easy and quick to promote and pull off. For these reasons, I believe DinnerAndSong is a more compelling way to get your fans inspired to host concerts, and convert their friends into fans.
The beauty of this is the snowball effect.
House Concert hosts can inspire DinnerAndSong hosts from their audience.
DinnerAndSong hosts can also inspire DinnerAndSong hosts, and even create DinnerAndSong clubs where the guests and hosts rotate on a monthly basis.
A lot of your fans can fit into this equation. Audience, DNS host, or HC host.
Want more upside? A few DNS events (tuesday, wednesday, thursday) are a way to promote your friday night public show at a respected listening room nearby. It’s off the radar and tiny (venue won’t know or care) and allows you to do a “teaser show” of 35 minutes that leaves the audience wanting more. Where can they get more? At your public show, of course.
Artists, you have a choice to make. This is a new thing, and it won’t happen (for you) without your voice. Help us create a new touring infrastructure that can make every night on the road a meaningful and profitable one. One off night can make the difference between a profitable tour and that feeling like you drove a long way to get nowhere.
Email your fans, visit your DNS profile on the site and click the Facebook button. Tell your fans you are excited about DinnerAndSong, and they should be too.
The tour you save could be your own.
You are familiar with the plan of choosing a weekly gig to develop an audience in a market. Works for some, but you typically need more energy than that to gain traction, and you’re likely to lose money in the early stages at least.
The DNS residency is a series of weeknight DinnerAndSong events leading up to a scheduled concert at a public listening room.
For example, I book a show at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur for June 1, and need a plan to start drumming up interest in the show. Eddie’s and I put the word out to our mailing lists 2 months ahead of time, announcing that I’ll be available to perform DinnerAndSong concerts IN THAT AREA during the first week in May. Between our mailing lists I’m able to schedule 5 shows for that week, Sunday-Thursday, and still keep my Friday and Saturday open for more significant opportunities in another area.
May comes and I have 5 DNS events, playing short sets and building personal relationships with fans who are likely to attend the show at Eddie’s next month. They are also likely to talk about “the amazing, personal show” they saw at their friend’s place and how I was “totally cool to hang out with.” That might get a few extra people to the show as well.
Since I only played 35 minutes at the home events, the public show will feel both familiar and fresh to the DNS folks. They’ll know some of my best tunes, but will get exposed to plenty of new stuff as well. And the atmosphere and my performance will be significantly different than the previous show.
Conservatively, I make $50-150 per night at the DNS shows, and have little or no food and lodging expenses thanks to my DNS hosts. So if the average is $100 I will have made $500 (net!) on WEEKNIGHTS, and have done a fabulous job of building a fanbase and an audience for my upcoming show at Eddie’s.
Rinse and repeat.
What do you think about house concert hosts charging the performers a percentage of the money at their show? I know some hosts provide drinks, plates, cups, etc. What if they put out a tip jar out to ask for donations for the house? Or what about actually charging the musician, say 20%.
It’s a slippery slope that we don’t touch. House concerts require a generosity of spirit and effort - not money. Spending a lot of money on your events is an option, and one that we tend to discourage. Hosts are better off not complicating the money.
We choose to keep house concerts a purely altruistic endeavor for many reasons:
If you love the idea of hosting house concerts, but feel you can’t afford it, then you have the wrong idea of what house concerts are all about.
Food expenses can be avoided by not providing food. I’ve seen big house concerts fill up consistently, and all they ever offered was tea, coffee, and stale cookies. It’s about the music - and they always had great music in a lovely atmosphere.
Your guests can be encouraged (or assigned, if you prefer) to bring a dish, bring cups, bring soda, or whatever else you think is costing you money.
Stay away from collecting crumbs - it’s not good for house concerts, not good for the vibe, and distracts attention (and income) from the artist. It’s tough enough keeping the donations separate from CD sales, why start a third pile?