House Concert – Guide for Hosts

Jackson Emmer performing at a house concert in Austin, TX. Photo by Olive & West.

Thank you for your interest in hosting a house concert. House Concerts are my favorite places to perform because they are as intimate and unfiltered as live music gets. I began playing house concerts back in 2009, on my first tour around New England. I had no idea where the idea would take me, or how the house concert movement would catch on around the country. While they’ve been around for decades, if not centuries, house concerts have become more common in the age of internet.

HOW DO HOUSE CONCERTS WORK?

Below is an outline of typical host and artist responsibilities, plus a sample schedule, and info about $ and food. Each house concert is unique, and these details are not set in stone. Everything can be tailored to your specific home or event. Let’s talk.

JE House Concert in Pasadena, CA hosted by Mike and Laura.

HOST RESPONSIBILITIES

– Provide space to perform (living room, backyard, etc.).

– Provide a power outlet for amplification.

– Provide seating (you can also ask guests to bring their own folding chairs).

– Invite your friends and community to attend. We’re aiming for 20+ people at each event. 40-70 is ideal. If you aren’t confident you’ll be able to get 20+ people to RSVP, consider partnering with a friend and co-host.

– Set expectations with guests regarding house concert etiquette. Invite your friends to attend an “intimate concert in our home.” Let guests know that this will be a “listening room environment,” and not a house party in which people talk throughout- there will be plenty of time to socialize before and after the music. Also, please inform guests ahead of time that we’ll be collecting a “$20 suggested donation per person” at the door. (Kids may attend for free, as long as it’s ok with the host).

– Introduce the musician(s) “on stage” before the performance, and remind guests to donate and buy merchandise to help keep us going.

ARTIST RESPONSIBILITIES

– Coordinate with host regarding event details.

– Provide host with all materials needed to promote the house concert.

– Perform one 70 minute, or two 45 minute sets- whichever the host prefers.

– Supply appropriately sized sound system/PA for event.

– Arrive early to help host set up chairs or re-arrange furniture as needed for concert.

– Assist host with cleanup after concert.

Another snapshot of the Pasadena house concert.

HOW DOES THE MONEY WORK?

Typically, house concerts are advertised as “Suggested Donation” instead of as a “Ticketed Event” because selling tickets turns your home into a business, which requires a license. Hosts ask guests to contribute, but the whole premise operates on the Honor System. Standard donation amount for my 2020 concerts is $20 per person, and typically I keep 100% of the donations, plus 100% income from merchandise sold. This arrangement is standard for most house concerts and artists around the country, with few exceptions.

If for any reason, you would prefer to cover the cost of a house concert outright (instead of having guests donate), this can be done via my webstore, or coordinated by emailing me directly. jemmer.music@gmail.com Thank you!

FOOD

Most hosts like to have a potluck dinner before the concert, with friends bringing dishes and drinks to share. Some hosts prefer to refreshments for their guests. Either way works great- whatever your style is, go for it.

SAMPLE SCHEDULE

4pm load in/setup.

6:30pm potluck/snacks

7:30pm-9pm music.

9:30-10:30pm cleanup.

10:30pm goodnight!

LODGING

If you have an extra bed, and a cat-free home (sorry, I’m allergic to cats!) it’d be great to stay with you after the house concert. That said, it’s not required. Please just let me know either way so I can make lodging arrangements.

QUESTIONS?

Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to seeing you, and am honored that you’d consider having me perform in your home.

Grateful,

– Jackson –

House concert in Sulphur Springs, TX