House Concerts

by Dean Verger

What is a house concert?

At its simplest a concert held in your home. This could be indoors, or in great weather, outdoors. Most often it is an acoustic concert with little or no amplification.

Who can host?

People who have already had gatherings or parties in their home for 20 plus people, are social by nature and enjoy music.

What’s in it for the musician(s)?

Many performers have found that house concerts are an excellent way to fill in those nights on the road when a major gig doesn’t fall into place. They may get a billet, often are fed, have a new audience, sell some CDs, and walk away with some money in their pocket.

What’s in it for the host?

(from Liz Harvey-Foulds)
You get to meet some amazing people – the performers and the audiences: you get a warm fuzzy feeling that you’ve made something magical happen: you hear music that will leave you with goose bumps all over: and for those of us who can’t write and sing songs it’s a way of helping make songs by and about real people become a reality. Most of all it’s a LOT OF FUN!

Websites with more information:

Home Routes (http://www NULL.homeroutes NULL.ca/)

Responsibilities

The host contacts the musician, rounds up the audience, collects the money, sets the style of houseconcert. For example, when Aengus called me, I invited him to take part in a house concert. We discussed timing, fees, location, billeting, and what he would be doing. Then I sent the information out inviting friends and acquaintances to this event. I wanted a larger space than my own home so I contacted Peter MacDonald. We partnered up, my friend list and his home. We decided on a potluck so the effort would be spread, and a more social environment could be established.

Legalities

Our legal responsibilities are the same as any party we hold in our homes. We are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of those on our premises. If someone is drinking, do not allow them to drive home. Arrange a taxi, shuttle them and their car, give them a couch, take away their keys.

Non-profit

These house concerts are meant to be non-profit, at least for the host. Only the musicians should be walking away with a fee.

Paying the musician

Everything is negotiable. Most musicians prefer cash however if you will be paying with a cheque remember they will be on the road for many weeks. This letter from Richard Wright gives another point of view on negotiating with the artist…

I came up with what would work for me. Basically it is no guarantee and a percentage of the door, plus food and accommodation and my commitment to promoting the show. When performers contact me I am very clear in what I can offer. It is not a case of saying what a performer is worth or what they should get anywhere else just what I can afford and what my audience will support. I do NOT expect to get Saturday nights. I expect to be a great alternative to a motel room and no performance. I think everyone, particularly those new to hosting need to know clearly in their own minds what they can do.

Typical fees are:
Flat rate (agree on a set amount)
Per head (ie. $10 to $20 per guest)
Guaranteed minimum (combination of the above)

SOCAN

Artists often submit their concerts playlists to SOCAN. The artist then gets a cheque from them. SOCAN in turn may contact you for a fee ($25). Discuss this with the musician and decide how this will be handled. Does musician submit, or do you withhold?

Etiquette

This is a social event that helps promote live music. As such all usual customs of etiquette should be followed. Musicians who arrive stoned, hosts who get drunk… all are obviously unacceptable.

Help!

I have set myself up as referee. Are either the host or the artist rude? Is the agreement you are signing obscure? Contact me.  dean.verger at rasputins.ca

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