House Concerts: Taking Direct-to-Fan Live

“Welcome to Sofar Sounds!”

House concerts seem to be a growing phenomenon at the moment. Having long given punk semi-autonomous space in which to develop, other genres are getting in on the act with the help of a group of companies designed to connect fans with space to artists eager to play.

One motivation for house concerts is the fact that one often goes to clubs to see bands with a bunch of people there for a bunch of different reasons. Sometimes the other people don’t care about the music so much which can be particularly difficult for acoustic acts and others that don’t just turn it up to 11 and let the speakers handle the talkers.

House concerts are also providing an alternative form of revenue for many artists. For those developing strong relationships with their fans, house concerts deepen those ties and can even be offered as a high-end perk or a crowdfunding reward.

Even relatively low-paying house concert gigs can help flesh out gaps in a touring schedule or provide additional local revenue. As with all such opportunities, one must decide if the priority is how much one earns at the event, which should ideally include merch sales, versus how much such a show supports your efforts to build relationships that can be monetized over time.

House Concert Networks

Sofar Sounds is a house concert network than began in London in 2009 and now puts on shows in almost 100 cities. It’s been continually growing since last year when I spoke with co-founder Rafe Offer. Much of the effort is volunteer-driven and, according to a CMJ-related feature in The NY Times:

“Guests sign up online and tickets are free. To compensate musicians, organizers pass the hat, or provide a polished video of the performance.”

For example, in New York the suggested donation is $15 but suggested donations are not really the same as passing the hat so just find out what’s going to happen if you do a show cause that’s the one that will matter to you.

If you’re interested in connecting with Sofar Sounds, go here.

Other networks of interest include HouseConcertsAustralia, which I wrote about in 2012, and ConcertsInYourHome, which I wrote about in 2011. I wrote about others as well but they bit the dust.

Crowdfunding Perks and Superfan Experiences

One area I intend to look at more closely here at Crowdfunding For Musicians is the growing move to provide superfans with special experiences. This approach can range from offering house concerts for relatively large crowdfunding pledges to offering house concerts as a separate item.

This approach is likely where the strongest revenue streams will lie. It also requires more work on the part of musicians in terms of setting up shows.

Musician and music marketer Solveig Whittle wrote about her unique experience with an Amanda Palmer house concert for which she pledged during Palmer’s historical Kickstarter campaign. Though not the original plan, circumstances led to Whittle throwing her own CD-release party as an opening act to Palmer’s house concert.

It may sound complicated but it actually worked out very well and also gave her insight into the price Amanda Palmer had to pay to fulfill those pledges in terms of both time and extra travel. So keep that in mind as well when you’re planning those crowdfunding rewards.

Maximizing Your Alternative Venue Revenue

Basically, if you really want to maximize revenue from house concerts, the ideal is to start working them into your overall planning rather than viewing them as a special out of the ordinary event.

Get your house concert, alternative venue and live streaming act together so that you’re not having to scramble to organize individual events just as you wouldn’t on a traditional tour unless you’re poorly organized in general.

Who knows? Perhaps you’ll even breakthrough into the house concert scene big time for a guest spot on Live From Daryl’s House!