Monday, April 02, 2012

How To Host A House Concert

House concerts are one of my favorite things to do as an artist. They're so simple and intimate. There's nothing like looking every audience member in the eye, finding out their name and their story over some grilled pineapple, and having them all help you load up the car after a night of acoustic music.

If you're unfamiliar with house concerts but possibly interested in hosting one, let me tell you how it works.

It's an acoustic show, approximately 1-1.5 hours in length. No setup is necessary other than just arranging the room to fit people in. I usually try to charge a $10-20 cover (or list it as a "suggested donation") and aim for an attendance of 25-50. Some hosts want to make the event free and take up a love offering. Food is always a good idea. Some hosts want to make it a potluck party, while others prefer to provide the food/snacks themselves (or have a few of their closest friends prepare things). We can make the show private or public.

Now that you're in the loop on how it works, here are my Top 10 Tips For House Concerts, to help make it the best possible experience for everyone involved:

1. Minimize distractions. Get a sitter for your pets and/or children. (Note: if you have cats, please be sure to note this on all advertisements for the show. Many people are allergic, and the last thing you want is someone needing an epi-shot at your home.)

2. Have music playing lightly in the background as guests arrive. Ask the artist what they prefer as a forerunner to the concert.

3. If your door dings when it opens, disable that function.

4. Arrange the chairs in a cluster, if possible, facing the stage. Do not spread the chairs out. This helps encourage an audience to respond to the artists.

5. Make an announcement at the beginning of the concert, asking everyone to silence their phones (vibrate can be just as loud as ringing, so we usually articulate that they should be on silent, not on vibrate). Ask everyone to be respectful during the concert. There will be time for food, drinks, chatter both before/after. But this is the time for listening. In an intimate setting without amplification, all those little conversations and whispers can distract everyone in the room.

6. It is kind to find out about the artist, ask how they want to be introduced, then do it that way. I’ve had all three of my names mispronounced, I’ve been misidentified, mislocated, and misunderstood. You have the power to set the artist up perfectly for this to be a great night. You’re setting the tone for everyone in these few moments.

7. It is kind to ask (in the planning stages) if they need a place to stay for the night. Even if they decline, be sure to ask if they need a private room for warming up, prayer, changing, etc. It would be great if this room had a private bathroom as well. If this isn't possible, it's not a big deal.

8. Outdoor shows can be done, but they are tough to pull off successfully. There are so many distractions – traffic, bugs, etc. If it is outside, it is almost imperative that you have a sound system. Otherwise, the artist risks losing his/her voice from trying to sing in a space where everything travels.

9. It is kind to offer to feed the artist beforehand, but be sure to ask what they like.

Note: If you're planning to feed the artist beforehand, here is a list of things singers aren’t supposed to eat/drink before a show, because the vocal chords suffer: dairy, caffeine, cold beverages. That’s why we usually ask for room-temperature water -- not because we're being snooty. :)

10. It is kind to make an announcement at some point in the show, asking for donations/tips/etc. Perhaps pass a bowl around. You can make people feel more comfortable at this than the artist can, since it is your home.

I hope these tips are helpful! If you're interested in hosting a house concert, send me an email at: tlc@taraleighcobble.com

Have you had a house concert? What was your experience like? What would you add or subtract from my list?