House Concert: The Coolest Party You'll Ever Throw (aka How to Really Get Even With Your Pain-in-the-Butt Next Door Neighbor!)
So, what IS a House Concert?
Just what the name says… I show up with my guitar and a minimal PA system at a place of your choosing, you invite a bunch of friends over and I sing my butt off!
I’ve Never Heard of House Concerts; you’re making this up right?
Nope, House Concerts are a THING! Especially now; on one hand health concerns are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But at the same time we’re desperately trying to regain some sense of normal, and ache for a little socially safe human contact. We miss our friends, we miss having fun… these mini-concerts are a comfortable and safe way for folks to get together with a select bunch of folks that you already know are as socially conscious as you, experience some great music, listen to the stories about how and why the songs came to be… but more importantly, just share some time together in a safe, listening room atmosphere.
Shows are normally a seated listening event that can be set up just about anywhere; a living room or back yard, deck, clubroom, community center, or restaurant banquet room, your imagination is the limit. The key is to provide an opportunity for us to interact with each other and share some joy!
The host (that’s you) has, somewhere along the way, discovered me and my music. And thinking about it, you think that your friends, being like-minded folks, would also enjoy the music. “Hey… check this guy out from down on Padre; he doesn’t suck!” So, you decide to throw a small party and have me perform. It can be as private or as inclusive as you want because it’s up to you who gets an invite. It can be your friends, your neighbors, co-workers; it’s your party. Heck, I may already have a fan-base in the area that you may want to invite; everyone can use a few new friends!
House Concerts are ultimately, whatever you want them to be… but they usually work like this: Guests usually arrive 30 to 45 minutes before show time and everyone brings a light pot luck, and a beverage of their choice. You’ve been to parties… this isn’t rocket science, and you’re not the one who brings a sixer of Busch Light and then drink the other dudes Shiner! We sit around, meet each other, have a beverage and a plate of goodies… this time before the show works as an ice-breaker and gives everyone the opportunity to get to know each other.
After we’ve eaten and gotten chatty with each other, I get started. My first set usually runs about 75 to 90 minutes. Then I take a break so everyone can refresh their drinks, take a potty break, go outside and smoke a Marlboro, graze on the leftovers, whatever… (Warning: During this break, assuming that someone brought cookies, don’t get between the cookies and me… I’m just sayin’). My second set usually runs about 45 minutes… and then we just kick back and hang until you kick us all out.
So, right now you’re asking “But what if I throw a party and nobody comes?” Man… that would suck big time; What kinda’ loser are you anyway?
Don’t worry… promoting the show is a joint effort between us; this is the way I make my living…and my wife is high maintenance and has expensive habits. The key to a great party is great people, and a BUNCH of them! The more the merrier, but it all depends on the size of your space, and how many folks you are comfortable entertaining. If we’re doing this in your family room, that’s one number. If we’re doing it in your back yard, that’s probably a bit bigger number. If we’re doing it out in the pasture behind the barn, or in the Church basement, or in the Rec. Hall of your H.O.A.; well, you get the idea. If you would like to open up the event to people you haven’t met yet, I can drop an email to the fans I have that live in the area and send them your way; be prepared to get phone calls from new folks who are about to become new “besties”. You can print flyers, send invitations, post email blasts, whatever you’re comfortable with to provide the details about the show (who I am, my promise not to present a show that sucks, date, time, location, contact info to RSVP or purchase tickets, directions etc.) which serves as an invitation. Remember your college days; standing on a corner on campus handing out flyers to your dorm/frat/sorority party...you get the picture!
Essentially, you want to have as many guests as your space will allow. A good goal is 40 or so folks; doing the simple math… 40 folks at $15 a head brings in enough revenue to cover my expenses and put some money in the bank.
So now I have a bunch of people at my house... How do I get rId of them ?
House Concerts are, traditionally, early shows. After all, they’re at your house, in your neighborhood, and the last thing you want is for your neighbor to get their undies in a wad because you and your rowdy friends are obviously having too good a time (Why didn’t you invite your neighbors?). The shows usually are all wrapped up and everyone gone by 9:00pm. The early shows generally prevent noise problems with neighbors, and they also allow the shows to happen on weeknight evenings when schedules are a bit more flexible. It has been my experience that Sunday afternoons are also great times for shows… and a great way to cap off a perfect weekend.
So… you’re asking yourself; “How much does this cost me?”
For you, nothing… unless you want something to eat and drink better than what your cheap friends are going to bring! This is the way it works; the Performance Fee is the minimum amount that I have to end up with in my pocket at the end of the show to pay my expenses and bills.
My Performance Fee:
Within 400 miles of South Padre Island: $600
400 to 800 miles: $800
A single show over 800 miles: $600 plus Airfare.
But there is a caveat:
If we can book far enough out that I can book more than 1 show on the trip, and those shows are within 400 miles of each other, everyone gets the lower price. And the same goes for the Airfare, if I can book more than one show, reasonably close together in both distance and within a day or so of each other the cost of the Airfare is divided over all the shows.
So, we can get to the Performance Fee a few ways:
1. Pre-Event Ticket Sales; You decide how many folks you want to invite to the show, you get confirmations, divide the Performance Fee by the number of invited guests and set the ticket price accordingly.
2. Guarantee Against the Door; You collect a “Voluntary Donation” at the door, at the end of the night you kick in the difference if the door receipts are below Artist Performance Fee.
This is the industry standard for venues that host Touring Artists such as myself… this is where you’re “cover charge” is going.
3. The Door; If you’ve got a big space, and you can promise me that a gazillion friends are going to show up… I’ll play for the door.
This is standard practice in small theaters around the country. They usually seat between 250 and 750, they sell out consistently so as the Performer you have a really good idea on how many seats you can expect to fill, the Ticket prices are set ahead of time, and there is usually a pre-negotiated split of the receipts; I’m currently able to get in the 70% range.
(Just to put it in perspective… I’m getting 70% of sub-$15 tickets in places with under 300 seats: The Stones are selling out Arenas and Stadiums, minimum seating of 50,000 butts, ticket prices STARTING at $250 for crappy seats… at a 90/10 split. Guess who’s getting the 90%: It’s good to be the King!)
Sound Interesting... you kind of intrigued?
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