House concerts Q&A
Why host a house concert?
A house concert is a unique and magical event. You can take a common social gathering to a whole new level. Since most people have never been to a private concert in someone’s home, your guests feel they are part of something special. The concert provides a unique focus to the evening with time to socialize. The attendees are made aware there is a suggested modest donation amount to support the performer and it also supports the arts in your community.
At little or no cost to you, you create an unforgettable evening by bringing everyone together to meet the artists and enjoy a show in an intimate setting. The personal touch and warmth of the experience enchant all who attend. House concerts have grown in popularity because it’s a win/win situation for everybody.
What do I need to consider?
Do you have enough seating room- You should have at least 25 places to sit in order to host a house concert, the more, the better. The seats can include anything from chairs and couches, to pillows and carpets; Often you can borrow stacking chairs from a local church or school, use patio chairs, or ask friends and neighbors to bring a folding chair or two or cushions for the floor.
My place is too small. Can I still host a house concert?
Most people are surprised at how many people can be seated comfortably in a living room. Using concert-style row seating, with kitchen or dining room chairs, and some furniture rearranging, an average 12 X 18 living room can comfortably seat 35 people. If your home is too small, consider hosting the concert jointly with a friend who has a larger space. We have also done concerts at community centers, retail store spaces, yoga studios, Churches, even in a chiropractic office! In warm weather, you might prefer to hold your concerts outdoors in a backyard or on a deck. (Be mindful of lighting and bugs, and be sure to arrange an alternative rain site.)
What should I do first?
Confirm the performance date. Will the concert be during the week, or on a weekend? Weekends are usually best, but some concerts are held during the week. We have been very successful with Thursday nights.
Who should I invite?
You need to decide if you would like to make seats available for only friends, or the general public. Most people start with their immediate circle of friends and family, and it fills up pretty quick. Otherwise, invite everyone you know who would enjoy this unique experience: neighbors, business associates, community groups.
Do I need special invitations?
Much of the promotion is by word of mouth, but some folks get creative with their computers. An invitation is a mix between a postcard and a party invite. We can provide you with an email invitation, or supply you with a master for making your own paper invitations that explain about us and about house concerts.
We also have flyers / small posters that you can distribute. Some people use EVITE (www.evite.com) to send an email invitation that includes a RSVP list.
Make sure you have time to promote the concert. The more people that show up for the concert, the more successful the event will be. Give yourself one month to contact friends, neighbors, put up posters, etc.
If you mail your invitations, send your mailing out about three weeks in advance.
Then follow up in the next weeks before the event. If you mail too early, people will forget, too late, and they have other plans. Getting the invitation into the homes of your audience with enough time to plan to attend is the most important aspect of the advertising. Be sure to explain the suggested donation for the artists and ask for RSVP.
Directions to your house concert: Be sure to give clear directions to both your guess and the performers well in advance. It is a good idea to also provide a phone number. If you are promoting the event to the general public, do not disclose the exact location of your event until people have made sincere inquiry or reservations.
Reserving seats / donation payments:
How can I charge people to come into my home?
Our earning is based on the number of people in attendance. Typical attendance at a house concert is 25 60 or more people. Tickets usually range from $15-$25, and each guest donates for a ticket. You could make paper tickets but usually it’s just a list/roster of names. The hosts are guests of the performer and they do not pay of course.
If you are concerned about asking people to pay, let them know that all proceeds from ticket sales go to the artist. To cover any out-of-pocket costs of promoting the shows, some hosts make an arrangement with the performers that allow them to keep a small percentage of the donations for such expenses.
You can let your invitees know this is a way for you and your guests to directly support a touring performer, and to have a memorable and unique evening at a reasonable price, a concert with a performer up close and personal.
Hosts will simply reserve seats for guests if they confirm by email or phone. Some hosts may want to collect donations prior to the show. This helps to prevent the problem of overcrowding or turning people away at the door, only to find out later that there are several no shows. Whatever you decide to do, make your ticket information clear to guests so that they can reserve seats and/or pay their donations in advance. Keep a running list of who has pre-paid and/or reserved seats, and who will pay on arrival. Your goal is to pre- sell every seat for the concert.
Some hosts also keep a big jar at the entry table labeled “Donations for artists” Or, “Suggested Donation: $15.00 All proceeds go to the performers”
By hosting a private concert at your home, you are simply providing a venue for the performance. For a special occasion or celebration in your life, some hosts invite guests and pay for the performance themselves.
As you might guess, house concerts hosts are not in it for the money but for their own enjoyment. Just like if you were having guests over for any kind of gathering at your home. It’s the same for us as performers. It’s a modest earning for us, but we enjoy sharing our music up close and the interaction with the audience.
At the event you may be busy greeting guests, so have a friend collect donations from those who haven't paid and check them off a list. You might want to have a small cash purse handy to provide change for guests. We can also process credit cards for the guests.
How do I set up the space? Is there a need for sound or lighting?
We need an area that will comfortably seat two folding chairs, with a few feet around us for our instruments. We generally go “all acoustic” and do not use electronic equipment at all. However, if it is an outdoor show, or more than 50 people, we can bring a small sound system. For lighting in living rooms, as long as there is a floor lamp or table lamp near where we perform, that should suffice.
Candles are a nice addition too.
We will also need a table to display our CDs. This serves best in the entryway and can be also used for guest check in. It helps to have a place for us to change clothes, and/or store luggage, instruments, cases and other belongings.
How long is a house concert?
Our performances last two hours, which includes a 15-20 minute intermission.
This can be tailored to each individual situation. Weekend evening concerts usually start at 8:00 PM, Weeknights 7:00 or 7:30 PM. Weekend matinees are also an option. We will need to arrive between 1-2 hours before the concert to set up, prepare, tune, dress, warm up, etc.
Shall I provide refreshments?
Coffee or tea with cake or cookies is very common. More elaborate refreshments are not expected or required, and are at your discretion. Some hosts ask their guests to bring a dish or dessert to add to the festivities.
Simple beverages such as juice or water will always suffice.
Some folks offer wine to guests.
Do I need to introduce the show? You or somebody you appoint can do a very simple welcome and introduction of us. Something as simple as “Tonight we are fortunate to have with us some wonderful musicians, so lets get started, please welcome Lisa Lynne & Aryeh Frankfurter.” (Aryeh is pronounced like the letters R-E-A.) You might mention the donation concept during the welcome and we have CDs for sale and are happy to autograph them. This is also an opportunity to remind those with cell phones to silence the ringers. After the break, we resume our performance seats and guest follow suit.
Lodging: Depending on the location and distance for us: we may need over night lodging for the night of the performance. You may have audience members that offer accommodations in exchange for free admission.
What about a workshop? A very special and popular addition to a concert is a workshop in conjunction with our concert. We can introduce people to the basics of harp playing and even provide 15 harps! This is a very unique opportunity to learn all about the harp and experience making music on this beginner friendly instrument. Workshops are usually two hours in length for groups between 10-15 participants at around $40.00 per person. Lisa has a compelling story and slideshow of how she uses harp music in hospitals and the power of music as therapy. We can get folks playing real music right away! These workshops are limited to areas drivable from the San Francisco area.
Cancellation policies: If it looks like we are missing our attendance goal by a good deal, we will choose another date for your house concert and try again another time.