Hosting a House Concert is Easy
Once you host one, you’ll want to do it over and over again.
My partner Claire Roche and I travel and perform together at a show called “Celtic Dreamtime” to go along with our Ireland tours and retreats and online productions.
In places where we are well known the audiences can be a bit too large for a house concert so we are hosted by a small theatre or church. Where we are popular this usually started with a house concert in the area to introduce ourselves. We perform in towns where our first visit was a house concert with as little as 5 or 10 people attending and now 100, 200 and even 300 turn up to share with us.
Even so, we do enjoy performing house concerts and hope we will always be welcome and invited to perform at them.
We also know from our house concert experiences that every host truly loves hosting these events and we invite you to consider trying our hosting a Concert In Your Home yourself, not just for us but for possibly creating your own house concert series.
First lets, put aside some myths
Is your home, your living room big enough?
Anyone with a living room, thats 15 ft by 10 ft or more can host a house concert. Of course, most people have a living room much larger than that, but I mention 15 x 10 as an example just to show you how simple this is.
Do you need a PA or sound system?
Many people think a house concert is like a party with a band and all the demands of PA, lighting, food, mess and damage !!!
No, its not like this at all, unless you want it to be.
A house concert is an opportunity to share quality entertainment in a calm and cozy atmosphere that is intimate and involved with the performers, without the disturbance and distraction of bars, drunks, noise and overall tension.
A house concert is the opportunity to experience a quality night out, just like how songs, music, poetry and stories used to be shared by the bards before they moved out into theatres, arts centres and bar stages.
Can you afford the performers?
House concert performers do not charge fees, or should not charge fees if they are familiar with the house concert tradition. They earn income from donations and CD sales. For performers this is really enjoyable indoor busking, where folks choose to listen to the quality performance than just walk by to their destination. The host’s expenses are covered from donations too.
Do you need licensing?
A house concert is just a nice short name for inviting folks around for a neighbourly social that includes listening to and participating in entertainment. People exchange gifts and make donations at home socials, and they do at house concerts. That’s what this is about, and you never need a licence to invite friends around, I hope.
What about food and accommodation for performers?
You will need to ask what the performer desires. Some like the offer of a bed in the home of the host, and this can be a huge help with their expenses. Others like to go off to somewhere independent for accommodation.
Most performers welcome some food. A lot of singers prefer food after a performance, so when folks eat before a performance, don’t forget to sort out a plate to put aside for the performers at the end.
Here are our suggested “9 Steps To A House Concert”
If there are performers you like, you could approach them to perform in your home. Most house concerts host solo and duo acts. Its also quite common for individuals of larger working bands to break out and do a house concert or two. Even Bono and Edge of U2, do this from time to time, though I’m sure they get 1000s of requests for this :-)
You can also join Concerts In Your Home without charge, and other online house concert sites, to find performers suited and experienced in house concerts and their audiences, which are far different to pub, club and theatre audiences.
2) Promote to friends
Don’t spend money on advertising, because you do not do that when you normally invite friends around, do you? Just phone calls, emails, social chat on Facebook etc., and reminding people when you meet them is enough. Maybe a few small flyers as invitations and reminders are nice.
3) Prepare the room
Its easy to transform your living room into a house concert room. The video clip below explains and shows this.
4) Prepare for donations
Let people know you will be collecting tip donations for the performer/s and suggest this should be what people can afford with the usual donation being $10 to $20 per person. Obviously unwaged people cannot do this, so they give what they can, but still come along.
5) Social time before a concert
This is a social event. Encourage people to come early, maybe bring a pot luck dish for a pre concert buffet plate. It is nice if people can have an hour to meet, chat and say hello to the folks. I recommend keep the alcohol locked up until the concert break, but that’s up to you.
6) First set
Performer serves 30 to 40 minutes of entertainment, and at the end of the set the host announces how donations are taken, either hands out a basket like a church collection basket, or shows the audience where the very well signed extra large tip jar is.
Another 20 to 30 minutes to have a social and chat break after listening in quiet for 30 to 40 minutes, plus use bathrooms, have a smoke, check out the cds etc. If you want to serve drinks, you can start now, but do not take drink expenses out of the donation money. Tea, coffee, milk, sugar and a few cookies/biscuits costs are ok to be covered from donations though. Alcohol drink costs and choices are by the host, but people usually bring plenty of drink supplies to an event like this.
8) Second set
Usually the performer saves the looser stuff until now for another 30 to 40 minutes
9) Meet and Greet
This is the time the audience buys cds, talks to the performers, has cds, maybe books and other merchandise, signed.
Some hosts encourage a session or or ceili of local musicians at the end too.
At the end of all of this you’ll be blessed from the joy of serving a great night.
Here’s a nice 3.5 minute video of the basics of hosting a Concert In Your Home. This covers the above plus shows pictures of how it works.
Once hosts get the house concert hosting bug, many of them get serious and go as far as assigning a dedicated room, shed or garage for concerts and have sound systems and custom seated fitted. Some of these then move on to become experienced and profit making concert promoting, a new career maybe?
Do not feel obliged to develop this way unless it is truly a passion to do this. It will always be a blessing to maintain and open up more simple basic house concert venues like the above to sustain the quality of independent music and revive the old lost tradition of “concerts in your home”
Would you like to host Claire Roche & Celtic Dreamtime?
We will be in the USA during March and April 2010
We are still looking for house concert hosts in TX, NM, NV, CA, OR, ID, KS, CO, NE .
Please contact us by clicking here and sending us a note.
Many thanks. We look forward to you possibly hosting a concert performed by us in your home