House Concerts – The Lifeboats of the Music Industry?
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” — Richard Buckminster Fuller
Many artists will tell you that they simply could not or would not tour without the financial support of house concerts along the way. But money is just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface we find that house concerts are bringing artists (literally) closer to their fans, and sometimes they even help artists rediscover what they enjoy most about playing music – the intimate connection with an audience.
What are house concerts?
House concerts are private events in the homes of music fans. Friends, neighbors, and acquaintances are invited to attend a two set performance, and make a suggested donation of $10-20 per person. Often there’s a pot luck dinner or dessert, and it’s not unusual for guests to bring a beverage along with their favorite dish.
What’s the big deal?
Well, one of the key benefits of playing house concerts is the ability to play in markets where you don’t have a significant fanbase. Play a public venue and you are expected to draw (or sell a lot of booze.) Play a house concert and you are expected to be kind, fun, and damn good. Although house concerts usually welcome some local friends/fans of the artist, for privacy, safety, and legal reasons, the promotion is best done by hosts and their close friends.
And here’s the really big deal.
You get all the money. You get dinner and a place to stay. House concert hosts are volunteers and the most important new “patrons of the arts.” They host events because they love the music, and they love impressing their friends with concerts in their homes. There are thousands of them around the world. And now the tools exist for any artists to pitch the idea to their fans.
“House concerts are the emotional anchors of every tour.” — Hans York
Playing in homes is not for everyone.
If you’re interested in playing house concerts, it’s important to look at the advantages and disadvantages of your situation.
Most house concerts take place in average living rooms, with little or no PA provided. These shows are attended by people who will want to talk to you. They might sit within 3 feet of you, and they will be looking at you and listening to every word. This is not for shy artists. This is not for smelly artists. This is not for prima donnas. This is (usually) not for a full drum kit, backline and entourage.