by Jamie Haeuser
A house concert is simply a live music performance in your home. You invite people to watch a live show by a favorite musician. Guests donate a few dollars, enjoying a comfortable smoke-free environment to hear great music.
Hosting a house concert is rewarding, fun and fairly easy to do. It's a great way for music enthusiasts to help musicians succeed and grow their fan base.
The steps include:
- Making decisions about what, when, who and how
Decisions to Make
By paying attention to some details early in the process, you can ensure a successful and enjoyable event.
- Attendance: How many people will fit comfortably in your home? Most houses can easily accommodate 30 or so people. Do you have enough seating space?
- Date? Take some care in scheduling the event. Usually Thursday, Friday or Saturdays are best, and I prefer evenings at about 7. Make sure that your event is not in conflict with other events that might draw away your target audience.
- Open or Closed Event? Do you want to invite only friends or will you open it up to the general public? This is a key decision, and should be based upon how comfortable you are in having people you don't know in your home. I can reassure you that in many years of hosting house concerts for several different performers, I have never had a problem with theft or other trouble. Generally, opening the concert up to the public really means circulating publicity to existing fan groups or other affiliated groups – in my case, people associated with the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. I would not recommend notices in local media, at least until you get comfortable by holding a concert or two
- Donation? How much will you ask people to donate? Discuss this carefully with the performer. If the performer is going to be in the area anyway, house concerts are more feasible than a special trip with travel expenses. My donation amount is usually about $10-15 per person.
- Responsibility for Publicity? Will you and/or the performer be responsible for publicizing the event?
- RSVPs/Reservations? I usually ask people to email me or notify me on whatever networking site I am using if they will be attending. I don't enforce it, but it gives me an idea of how many people I can expect. If attendance is minimal a few days before, I might turn up the publicity a little (see below).
- Refreshments? Some people who give house concerts encourage a potluck supper or something similar. I do not, in general, because sometimes that means that people gather talking in the area where the food is served instead of attending the performance. I usually make my concerts BYOB, and I provide ice, mixers and plastic cups. I may also serve coffee and/or tea. Then after the concert, I might put out some light appetizers – but that is not necessary. DO have water on hand for the performers.
Getting the word out is key. I usually rely on postings by the performer, and to my own friends on MySpace, Facebook, etc. You might recruit friends also to post on networking sites, and post to affiliate groups as described above. The goal is to get word out to people with an interest in the kind of music you will be offering. If you live in a smaller town, a poster or two at a friendly store owner's place of business might be a good idea. Once you get comfortable with hosting house concerts, consider a notice in your local newspaper if in a smaller town.
- Helpers – Recruit 2-3 friends to help with set up and clean up. Performers will usually donate a CD or two as rewards.
- Set Up – Choose the location for the performer to be, then set up around that area. I move my large coffee table out of the way, turn chairs around to face the performers, move 2-3 benches (piano bench, wooden side benches) close by, etc. Folding chairs are handy. I also have a balcony overlooking the performance space where I might put a few chairs. You get the idea.
- Table – Set up a narrow table at the entrance where people will arrive. Have a friend man the table to collect donations. The performer may want to lay out merchandise – CDs, T-Shirts – here as well, if so, make sure and ask about recordkeeping and inventory.
- Tickets? I don't print and collect tickets. Instead, I use a visual – give people Mardi Gras beads, or tie a ribbon around their wrist to show they have paid. That makes it easy to keep track. I ask the person at the table to keep a headcount, too.
- Children – Think about whether you want children to attend. I always do, from small babies on up. I have an attached mother-in-law apartment that we set up as an alternative spot for children – and never use it because the kids like to be there for the music. I do suggest that you discuss options with parents in case a child becomes disruptive.
The work detailed above is pretty minimal in exchange for the enjoyment you'll get out of hosting a house concert. I love being a sort of poor-man's-patron-of-the-arts, and have made many lasting friendships by doing so.
Please feel free to email me at email@example.com if you need more information, or just to chat about house concerts.
Sample Song List
- Gypsy Rover
- Black Velvet Band
- Wild Mountain Thyme
- Botany Bay
- Fiddler's Green
- Finnegan's Wake
- Foggy Dew
- I'll Tell My Ma
- Irish Rover
- Isn't It Grand, Boys?
- Johnny Jump Up
- Whiskey You're the Devil
- Jug of Punch
- Rosin the Bow
- Auld Lang Syne
- Loch Lomond
- Ye Jacobites By Name
- Barnyards of Delgaty
- Green Grow the Rashes, O
- Jock Stuart
- Loch Tay
- High Jeannie High
- Star of the County Down
- Whiskey in the Jar
- Black Is the Colour
- Lusty Young Sith
- What Shall We Do With a Catnipped Kitty
- A Drop of Vulcan Blood
- Wild Kitty
- I Saved the Planet Earth
- Jedi Drinking Song
- Jedi Drinking Song Prequel
- Gollum Blues
- Middle Earth Bragging Song
- Monahan's Mudder's Milk
- She Said Her Name Was Saffron
- Hero of Canton
- Heart of Fangorn
- Happily Ever After
- The Leprechaun
- I'll Drink from Dusk Til Dawn
- Angel's Lament
- My Puddy Tat, Sylvester
- My Father Was a Werewolf
- The Mining Ship the Red Dwarf
- O'or Hamlet
- Buttercup's Lament
- For the performance: microphone, mic stand, DI
- Hotel for each night of the event
- Travel expenses
- Table to sell CDs
Click on the link to download large photos.