• Jennifer

How to Have a Concert

A lot of you are missing live performances. To you, its like oxygen. Here's how some of you can have your music and distance, too.


Its been months since we've seen full on, large, medium or even small scale concerts in most parts of the U.S. While I've heard/seen people comment that they prefer to wait it out for the "real deal", others aren't willing to wait on some unknown date in the future. If you are lucky, you may have some well organized drive-in concerts and outdoor venues set up for music and distancing and I encourage you to support those efforts. If thats not the case, or you just prefer to have more control of your environment from a distancing or a listening standpoint) Here's your best bet: Host a house concert... or a yard/barn/dock/beach/porch/street concert. Here's a how-to.


What's a House Concert?


House concerts and private/public listening rooms have proliferated in many parts of the country in recent years and have provided some of the best experiences for music fans and musicians alike. Stated simply, it's a concert you host on your private property or club, often invite only.


Some people have grown their house concerts into weekly or monthly series or annual event hosting touring artists, learning about and sharing the music of independent artists - including some bigger names. Some have built stages on their properties, or grown into a small private club or venue, and networked with other house concert hosts around the country to book artists. Others just occasionally want to have an event for a band or artist they like.


Artists love house concerts because they often provide an opportunity to perform for a new audience that is there to listen. Small venues don't always have that built in audience for an artist in a new market.


What's a House Concert Like?


The host sets the tone. It differs from a party with a live performer because with a house concert, the performance is the focus. Social time comes before or after (likely to be limited during the covid era). A host may invite guests to BYOB or they may provide snacks and beverages. They may provide seating or ask guests to bring a lawn chair, blanket etc. Your concert, your property, your choice.


Picture of a house concert on a neighborhood street


What are some examples of house concerts?


We have performed ourselves in barns, garages, poolside, at farms, yards, in living rooms, patios, warehouses, porches, airplane hangars, dockside, in streets, with bbq's, potlucks or wine tastings for 5 people to 200. Whatever local ordinances allow, almost any space has potential. Think of it as having a wedding without the headaches of family seating arrangements, huge overhead, a year of planning and buyers remorse.


Video of skydiving fun where we performed in the airplane hanger at a skydiving club



How do I do this?


1 - You need a band (or artist). Reach out - to us! See about availability and think about if you want to do a weekday or weekend. Weekdays are sometimes preferable for everybody if you want a small, low key event. Its also often easier to pick up a touring act for a weekday. Decide on a date you can plan for and stick with it.


2 - Think about location. If you live close to neighbors, you might see if they want to get on board. During covid, we've been performing in driveways with the blessing of city/townships to block off a section of road so that neighbors and friends can sit in the street to listen and spread out according to social distancing mandates. A covered space is always nice but not necessary. A level performance area is ideal.


3 - Consider your guest list. Will you invite neighbors, friends, co-workers, fellow fans, family, or make it a little more open to the public, or do +1's? Who do you want, how many do you want and can you have comfortably. If you are unsure that you can come up with a guest list of enthusiastic friends, join forces with a friend or friends and plan together.


4 - Work out details. You likely aren't set up with gear if you've never hosted a house concert. In that case make sure the performer/s are equipped with a P.A. unless you plan to go fully acoustic (I wouldn't advocate for this right now considering covid distancing mandates). If it's an outdoor evening event, plan for lighting. What time would you like people to arrive, when should the band/performer set up? Make sure people know when they should leave by and if there will be a bathroom available - this is one for the covid times. Plan on a short event if you won't have bathroom access.


5 - Pay. Musicians earn their living primarily from ticket sales/cover charges, guarantees and music and merch sales. For a house concert there are different pay arrangements that can be made. The artist/band can be paid by donations from attendees, in which case the host can set the amount or offer a suggested donation. That may or may not include any extras provided by the host or even the band - such as a CD. They can also be paid via a tipping/donation situation. That has a better outcome if the guests understand the house concert concept and the importance of paying the band. The host can also pay the band a guarantee, either out of their own money or they may have a group of friends that pool resources for regular events. Finally, the band may be paid in both a guarantee plus tips/donations. In any case it's important that the host sets the tone.


There are factors that come into play that you can consider when booking an artist for a house concert, such as a meal or lodging for touring artists. If you have a space available or can provide a hotel or guest lodging, that goes a long way to make a traveling band happy.


6 - Promote. Spread the word, through word of mouth, personal invites, a graphic or poster, a snail mail invite, a social media event - which can be made private or public. Invite your friends and music enthusiasts and have a good time.


7 - Covid concerns. Make sure you communicate distancing measures and expectations.


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Currently we are in NY for some public and private/house concert performances. Pop up shows and DIY shows and house concerts are going to be the majority of our events this year. We are thankful for your support and positive responses. Covid has introduced challenges into all our lives and we have to adapt so we can all keep experiencing life as well as make a living. As so many venues are closed, we are glad to help you have your music and distance, too.




hiking in NY



Last November in Rochester


© 2019 BY Jennifer Westwood and The Handsome Devils.