What is a house concert?
A house concert is a way to bring live music to your home in an informal setting. If you are looking to create a musical experience that your guests will remember and treasure, a house concert is ideal.
How is a house concert different than having music at a party or gathering?
A house concert is different because the focus, for at least part of the event, is solely on the music. Background music at a party can create nice ambiance, but some music, particularly lyric-driven music, is better suited for a house concert. Think of the performances you may have attended. Some music is fun to listen to while dancing, but other music is better served by being able to listen more closely. And musicians who perform house concerts or “listening room” type shows are skilled at creating a memorable experience for the audience.
What do I have to do as the host?
As the host, you provide the location and seating options, electricity for instruments if needed, and you invite the guests. The location can be your living room, your outside patio, or whatever space in your house is best suited for the event.
Do I do all the planning?
I am happy to help you with some aspects of the planning. I can come visit your (local) space to offer suggestions if desired. I can provide photos, text for invitations, etc. In addition, if you are looking for a few additional people to join the event, we can most likely connect you with some new friends!
How many people should I invite?
This depends on how many you feel comfortable hosting, as well as the size of the space for the concert. 15-25 people is a good amount for most house concerts, but more or fewer could work as well. One idea that can be fun is to co-host a concert with family, friends or neighbors… that way you can share hosting duties, and draw from a larger guest list. It’s generally a good idea to invite more people than may attend, to make sure to have a large enough group.
Do I need to rent chairs?
Possibly. You may already have enough chairs for many of the guests, depending on the head count. Some may be fine seated on the ground (pillows can be helpful), and if you find you need more seating, consider inviting guests to bring camping chairs (especially for more informal or outdoor venues), or borrowing a few chairs from friends or invited guests.
Should we include food?
Food and beverages are always a nice addition to an event. You could provide some light snacks (easy finger food like nuts, crackers, cookies, etc.), or ask your guests to bring something to share. Some house concerts are done as a potluck with dinner before, during or after the performance. Sometimes shows will include a meal or snacks prepared or purchased by the musicians!
Don’t forget parking…
Parking is important to consider… make sure you have enough parking for the event, and that parking is well marked if helpful. Sometimes it’s nice to include neighbors on the guest list as well, particularly if they may be impacted by parking.
What might the schedule look like?
A typical arrival time for an evening house concert might be 7pm. Allow guests time to arrive and socialize… 30 to 60 minutes can be a good amount of time. The music portion should have a set start time, and guests will be asked to take their seats a few minutes before the music begins. The music can go from 8-9pm so (often a bit longer, but about 75 minutes tends to be optimal). After the music ends, there usually should be time (30 minutes is a good minimum) for guests to talk with Val, look at merch, and continue socializing.
This schedule can of course vary depending on your needs, etc. For dinner potluck/house concerts, you might want to start at 6pm instead. Or, consider a brunch potluck, and hold the event mid-day on a Sunday! Work with Val for ideas about how to create a setting and event that will be enjoyable for you and your guests.
Can children be included?
Definitely, maybe! This depends on the the age and activity level of the children. A house concert is a time for guests to listen to music, so it’s best to avoid having small children who may distract the audience or musicians. Older children (11+) who can sit and listen to music are most likely fine (and it’s great to give them the opportunity to watch a live performance).
How do the musicians get compensated for performing?
Some hosts work out compensation for the musicians ahead of time, and don’t ask guests to contribute. But most usually ask guests to be prepared to contribute. A nice way of phrasing this on the invitation is something like ”a donation of $10-15 per person is requested, but no one will be turned away”. Some people have a jar or bowl on a table for donations, while others literally pass a hat at the end of the show. It’s often the most helpful for the event host to make an “ask” for donations at the end of the performance; Val can talk with you about how to do that. It’s also nice to provide a small table or space so that the musicians can set up their “merch” for sale – cds, etc.
Will this cost me money?
Ideally, no! Hosts are not generally expected to “donate” since you are providing the space, etc! Some costs can be incurred for food and chairs, but those are easily minimized or eliminated. Talk with Val about your budget as part of the planning process!
One final note… it’s very important to ask guests to RSVP for the performance, and ideally by at least a week before the date. Let them know that space is limited, and a solid head count is crucial. As the date approaches, if you feel that you won’t have enough people (15 solid attendees is a good base number) to attend due to weather or other issues, talk with Val to reschedule for a better date.