Sunday, May 24, 2009

House Concerts

Ever wanted to have a captive audience in an intimate setting where you could share your favorite songs, a few jokes and stories, make a few bucks for your efforts and do a little healthy self-promotion all in one evening, maybe without even leaving the comfort of your own home?

This sounds a little too good to be true but “house concerts” have been a growing trend, especially for acoustic artists over the last two decades. What works for the singer-songwriter can also provide good venue vibes for vocalists. Remember that you don’t need an elaborate performance to make an impression, you want to keep it simple to minimize potential headaches and glitches.

So what do you need to get started and pull things off without freaking out or having too many technicalities to overcome?

Setting The Scene

Obviously you need a staging area. This can be a rec room, sunroom, or large living room. It can be a porch or sundeck, a backyard, front yard or garden area. If you’re in the country it could be a barn or stables area. Near the river or ocean, it could be the sand in front of a beach house. You want an area that will be easy to set up, maintain and control traffic flow. You can ask people to bring chairs or lay out blankets and tablecloths to create a casual, picnic atmosphere.

If you don’t have a space of your own to perform in, check with a neighbor or friend who might have a space or get them to ask around. The first goal is to secure a spot for your concert so that you can get the word out and set up some future gigs. You might even ask around about who is holding yard sales and set up your house concert as entertainment for the neighborhood after a day’s hard work, sort of like a block party.

Dishes And Tip Jars

It’s also a great idea to have food available. It could be a potluck or simple finger foods and drinks. You might have an outdoor grill or pit for barbecue. Again, you want to keep it simple but satisfying for those who show up to hear you.

To be financially rewarded, you can set up a tip jar, pass the hat or a basket, or charge a flat admission fee. Just to be on the safe side, check with local zoning laws for the area where you’ll be performing. If it can be implied that the concert is a business venture you may have to comply with safety issues and permits. In most cases this will not be an issue.

Building Support

One of the reasons that house concerts can be a viable way of making some money and building a following is that people crave a sense of community. Music has a way of building bridges and bonding people together. It is a shared experience that is frankly good for the heart and soul. It’s also a good idea to include songs that lend themselves to audience participation on occasion. Just to make it a little more fun.


House concerts are usually promoted via the Internet, fliers, and word of mouth. Ask each of your friends to bring two of their friends to the concert. This is one way to guarantee that you’ll have a relatively full house.
After your concert make a pitch for your availability. Have ready-made flyers or business cards available with contact info or even a CD with a few songs.

This is a great way to make a cozy connection between heart and home. It’s a connection that is naturally reinforced by the human voice engaged in song.

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