House Concert Hosting Guide

how to organize a house concert

House concerts are a fantastic way to bring people together and create an intimate and memorable experience for both the artist and the audience. They are typically held in private spaces, such as living rooms or backyards, and can accommodate 30 or more guests. As a host, it's essential to have a passion for music and a love for gathering friends and community.

When organizing a house concert, there are several key steps to follow. First, choose a musician or band whose music you genuinely love, as this passion will inspire others to join. Next, pick a suitable date, preferably one that aligns with the artist's tour schedule, and don't be afraid to reach out and communicate with them directly. Consider the location and set-up, ensuring you have the necessary space and that neighbours and roommates are informed and on board with the event.

It's also important to plan the logistics, such as seating, food and drink options, and any merchandise or tip jars the artist may want to include. Promoting the event to your network and encouraging word-of-mouth invitations are crucial steps to ensure a good turnout. Finally, remember to treat the house concert as a proper concert, with a defined start and end time, to ensure the artist receives the audience's undivided attention.

Characteristics Values
Space Indoors or outdoors, with enough space to seat 30 people or more.
Audience Friends, neighbours, and the general public.
Invitations Send invitations a month before the concert, and ask people to reserve seats.
Donations Suggested donation of $20-25 per person, with 100% going to the performer.
Timing Two 45-minute sets with a 20- to 30-minute intermission.
Food and Drink B.Y.O.B, provided by the host, or a combination of both.
Merchandise CDs and other merchandise can be sold at the concert.

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Choose a musician you love

Choosing a musician you love is an important part of organizing a house concert. House concerts are a great way for artists to connect with their fans, so you'll want to select an artist whose music you and your friends enjoy and want to experience up close and personal.

When choosing a musician, consider the size of your space and the number of guests you plan to invite. House concerts typically require a minimum audience of 30 people, but the actual size of your space will determine the potential audience. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 5 square feet per person. Keep in mind that house concerts are typically more intimate and casual, so guests may be standing, sitting on the floor, or finding comfortable spaces on couches or chairs.

If you're inviting a larger group or planning to host the concert outdoors, you may need to consider musicians who can perform with a sound system or accommodate a bigger space. However, keep in mind that house concerts typically work better for solo performers or smaller acts, as larger bands may require more space and equipment, and the fee may need to be divided among multiple band members.

Once you've determined the size of your space and the type of musician you're looking for, you can start your search by using social media and dedicated websites. You can post on Facebook, reach out to other artists, or check house concert directories and platforms such as HomeDitty, Sofar Sounds, or Concerts in Your Home. These platforms can connect you with artists who are interested in performing at house concerts.

When reaching out to musicians, be clear about your expectations and provide details about your space and the number of expected guests. It's also helpful to mention any technical requirements, such as access to power outlets or specific lighting needs.

Remember, house concerts are all about creating a unique and intimate experience for both the artist and the audience. Choose a musician whose music resonates with you and your guests, and don't be afraid to reach out and start a conversation. By selecting the right musician, you'll be well on your way to organizing a memorable and successful house concert.

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Pick a date

Now that you have a better idea of what a house concert entails, it's time to pick a date! Here are some factors to consider when choosing the best date for your event:

  • Think about your audience's availability: Consider whether your guests will be attending during the week or on the weekend. Weekdays from Tuesday to Friday might be more practical for attendees in the B2B sector, while attendees in the B2C sector may prefer weekends. If your house concert is aimed at families with school-age children, avoid weekdays when children are in school.
  • Give yourself enough time: Planning and promoting a house concert takes time. Pick a date that allows ample time for preparation and promotion to ensure the event's success.
  • Consider vacation times: Avoid popular vacation times, such as school breaks and bank holidays, as people often book their trips in advance. Also, try to steer clear of dates just before and after these periods, as people will likely be busy preparing for or recovering from their time off.
  • Political and public events: Keep in mind any one-off public events, such as elections, city-wide celebrations, or local festivals, that may interfere with your chosen date. These events can distract your audience and make it harder to attract media attention.
  • Public service disruptions: Be mindful of any planned disruptions to public transport or other essential services in your area. These disruptions are usually announced in advance, giving you a chance to adjust your plans accordingly.
  • Weather conditions: While house concerts are typically held indoors, weather conditions can still impact your event. Check historical temperature averages and weather patterns to ensure your guests' comfort, especially if you plan to host the concert outdoors.
  • Venue and vendor availability: If you have a specific venue or vendor in mind, ensure they are available on your chosen date. Keep in mind that venues and vendors may have peak times when they are in high demand.
  • Speaker and entertainer availability: If you plan to have speakers or performers at your house concert, make sure they are available on the date you select. Their availability may impact the success of your event.
  • Competing events: Research and avoid dates that clash with similar events or those targeting the same audience. This will help ensure you don't have to compete for attendees.
  • Holidays and public events: Unless your house concert is related to a specific holiday, avoid religious and public holidays. These dates may interfere with your guests' plans and reduce attendance. However, if your event is family-oriented, a holiday weekend might be an ideal time to host it.

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Invite friends and neighbours

When inviting friends and neighbours to your house concert, it's important to remember that a house concert is primarily a gathering of friends and secondarily a show for the general public. This means that you should not be shy about your invitations. Send them to anyone you think might be interested in attending, as only 20-25% of those invited will show up. It's also a good idea to encourage your friends and neighbours to spread the word to their friends. In addition, be sure to send out invitations about a month before the concert and ask people to reserve their seats. Any earlier and people may forget, and any later they will probably have other plans. You will also need to send out a few reminders in the weeks leading up to the show.

Creating a Facebook event and inviting friends in this way can be helpful, but it's recommended to also use email to get a firmer commitment from people. In addition, be sure to keep track of your guest list and respond to RSVPs so that you know how many spaces you have left.

  • Include promotional materials, video links, etc. in your invitation so people can explore the music on their own.
  • Stress that space is limited and that reservations are required.
  • Describe briefly what a house concert is and how it works, including any suggested donations.
  • Share your own enthusiasm for the music—this is the best way to draw an audience!

Even if people make firm reservations, assume that a few will back out at the last minute due to illness, weather, etc. If your reservations hit capacity, keep a waiting list or overbook a bit so that seats don't go empty.

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Prepare the space

The first thing to consider when preparing the space for a house concert is the number of people you expect to attend. This will determine the space you need and the seating arrangements. A good rule of thumb is to allow for 5 square feet per person. You can ask guests to bring their own cushions or folding chairs, or borrow chairs from a church or community hall.

The next step is to decide on the location of the concert within the house. Living rooms, finished basements, garages, and backyards are all good options. If possible, it's best to keep the concert indoors, as this creates a better atmosphere and sound experience. However, if you're concerned about noise levels or the weather is good, an outdoor concert is always an option. Just be mindful of your neighbours and keep the volume at an appropriate level.

Once you've chosen the location, you can start thinking about the setup. Decide on the location of the "stage" area and arrange the seating accordingly. The size of the stage area will depend on the number of instruments and performers. You'll also need to ensure unobstructed access to exits and the restroom. If the seating area is small, you may need to guide your audience to their seats to avoid a crowded and chaotic entrance.

To create a concert-like experience, consider adding some extra touches such as a makeshift stage, lighting, or a fog machine. These elements will enhance the mood and make the event feel special.

Before the concert, move any furniture that might be in the way and put away any clutter. You want to create a comfortable and spacious environment for your guests. If you're having guests in your home, consider putting away any valuables to keep them safe.

Lastly, think about the logistics of the event. Set up a table or counter space for the artist to sell their merchandise, and another for any food or drinks you plan to offer. If you're encouraging a potluck-style dinner, ensure there's enough table space for everyone to place their dishes.

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Promote the event

Now that you've decided on a date, a venue, and a performer, it's time to start promoting your house concert. Here are some tips to help you spread the word effectively:

  • Use your network: Invite your friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues. Encourage them to spread the word and bring interested friends along. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, and people are more likely to attend if they know someone who's going.
  • Create a mailing list: Start by creating a mailing list of everyone you know. You can send out email invitations and ask people to reserve their spots. It's a good idea to send these invitations about a month in advance, with a few reminders in the following weeks. You can also use email to provide more information about the performer and what to expect at a house concert.
  • Utilise social media: Create a Facebook event and invite your friends. This makes it easy for people to share the event with their network and spread the word. You can also use other social media platforms to post engaging content, such as videos of the performer or behind-the-scenes snippets.
  • Leverage the performer's network: Ask the performer to promote the event through their website, newsletter, or social media channels. However, be cautious about making the event public, especially if it's in a private home. You can ask the performer to list the event on their website without disclosing the host's personal information.
  • Provide promotional materials: Work with the performer to create promotional materials such as videos, graphics, posters, or write-ups that you can include in your invitations or share on social media. This will give potential guests a better idea of what to expect.
  • Stress the limited space: In your invitations, emphasise that space is limited and reservations are required. This will create a sense of exclusivity and encourage people to secure their spots early.
  • Describe the house concert format: Many people may not be familiar with the concept of a house concert. Explain what it entails, including the suggested donation, to give potential guests a clear understanding of what they're signing up for.
  • Encourage early bird reservations: Consider offering an early bird price for reservations made a week or two before the show. This will encourage people to commit early and help you gauge interest.
  • Utilise local online resources: Look for local online resources, such as websites or social media groups dedicated to live music in your area. List your event on these platforms to reach a wider audience.
  • Collaborate with other artists: Partner with other local artists or bands in a similar genre to cross-promote your event. They may have their own following, which can help boost attendance.
  • Update your website: If you have a personal or band website, make sure to list the event on your tour dates or create a dedicated page with all the relevant information.
  • Print physical flyers and posters: While digital marketing is essential, don't underestimate the power of physical promotional materials. Print flyers and posters and distribute them in strategic locations, such as colleges, radio stations, or local businesses frequented by your target audience.
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Frequently asked questions

A house concert is a performance by a musician in an informal, intimate setting, such as a living room or backyard. They are usually acoustic/unplugged performances.

You need a minimum audience of 30 people. A good rule of thumb is 5 square feet of space per person.

Many websites can help you find and book artists for house concerts, such as ConcertsInYourHome and Sonicbids. You can also reach out directly to artists you're interested in via email.

$300 to $400 is a fair base rate for a solo musician. You can also ask guests for a suggested donation of $20-25 per person, which goes directly to the performer.

Communicate with the musician about their requirements and set up the space like a venue, with a defined "stage" area and seating for everyone.

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