Tribe House Blog
Art Leaks Blideo #8 – Skype interview with Cara Luft on making a living with house concerts
Posted : September 12th, 2011 by Nico Boesten
We tried a little experiment with road warrior, Juno Award winner, and laughing snorter Cara Luft where we captured a Skype interview with her on the topic of house concerts.
Apart from being a stellar musician and singer/songwriter, she has played hundreds of house concerts all over the globe. With TribeHouse kicking around the idea of building a house concert network, we had to glean from her wisdom & thought we might as well share it with the inter-earth (you).
Cara has some great info for house concert promoters (hosts) which we’ll post here for you and in this interview she shares a ton of helpful tips for musicians just getting into this whole house concert thing. Topics like “How much should you make at a typical gig”, “How to find the best venues”, and “Are there any other useful sites out there that can help get gigs”.
A few of the sites we referred to are also listed below and may be a helpful resource to you. As Cara was mentioning though, with the wide reach of some of these, the typical host could get bombarded with all kinds of booking requests making it really difficult to actually land a gig. There have been some other people in our community who havetried to book house concerts this way and found that only 5% of the people even responded (not necessarily even booked a gig). Have you found any other sites that are helpful?
This is a house concert circuit where only a few artists are chosen
This is a membership-based service ($199 / year) where you can access possible hosts for your tour in various countries
A free listing service where you can register yourself as either an artist or venue
Some helpful HOUSE CONCERT INFO to send to House Concert Hosts
(graciously written by Cara Luft herself).
Where did the idea come from?
In the days of chamber music, 200 or 300 years ago, people would gather in their drawing rooms or salons to listen to live musicians. It was a way to get together with friends and, at the same time, to be introduced to artists and their work. It was a time when involvement in the arts was a part of everyday life. Today, most of us are accustomed to concerts where the performer is inaccessible, so the experience of a private concert in an intimate setting provides a refreshing contrast. House Concerts are unique events. The audience is close enough to see the details of the artist’s performance – the nuances of a facial expression – or hear the artist’s fingers attack the strings before they hear the sound of the notes. Not only can the guests see the performance better, they also have multiple opportunities to meet and mingle with the performer.
Why are House Concerts so great?
House Concerts are fun, and they take a common social gathering to a whole new level. Since most people have never been to a private concert in someone’s home, your guests feel they are part of something special. The concert provides a unique focus to the evening with plenty of time to socialize. The intimacy and warmth of the experience enchant most people who attend.
Many hosts find that House Concerts are a tangible way in which they can support the arts in their community. Your guests don’t have to dress formally or make large contributions. They simply get to enjoy the artistry of a new talent in the gracious setting of your home.
The growing popularity of House Concerts has given independent artists opportunities to build grass-roots audiences. By hosting a House Concert and sharing this unique opportunity with those in your intimate circle, you are making a significant contribution to an artist’s career.
Is it expensive to host a House Concert?
Not at all. At no personal cost, the House Concert host becomes an impresario, introducing friends, family, neighbours, and business associates to the music of an accomplished artist, while the artist is still at the dawn of a musical career. The host has the privilege to hand-pick the guests for this unique social gathering.
The performer’s fee is based on the number of people in attendance. Typical attendance at a House Concert is 25 – 60 or more people. Tickets usually range from $10-$25, and each invited guest pays for a ticket. The hosts are guests of the performer. Some performers request a minimum attendance number in order to cover their expenses and be able to earn their standard fee.
How can I charge people to come into my home?
If you are concerned about asking people to pay, let them know that all proceeds from ticket sales go to the artist. This is a way for you and your guests to directly support a touring performer, and to have a memorable and unique evening at a reasonable price. By hosting a private concert at your home, you are simply providing a venue for the performance. For a special occasion or celebration in your life, you might want to invite your guests and pay for the entertainment yourself.
I don’t think my house is big enough. Can I still host a House Concert?
Most people are surprised at how many people can be seated comfortably in a living room. Using concert-style row seating, with kitchen or dining room chairs and some furniture rearranging, an average 12 X 18 living room can comfortably seat 35 people. Often you can borrow stacking chairs from a local church or school, use patio chairs, or ask friends and neighbours to bring a chair or two.
If your home is absolutely too small, consider hosting the concert jointly with a friend who has a larger home, or even at a local coffee bar, in your condominium common room, or in the boardroom at your office. In warm weather, you might prefer to hold your concerts outdoors in a backyard or on a deck. (Be sure to arrange an alternative rain site.)
Who should I invite?
Invite everyone you know who would enjoy this unique experience: friends, relatives, neighbours, business associates.
How long is a house concert?
Two 45-minute sets with a 20-minute intermission are typical.
Do I need special invitations?
Special invitations are not necessary. Most hosts call and invite their friends in person. It often helps to sell tickets in advance, that way the hosts have a clear idea of how many people are attending and the artist is paid regardless of whether people come or cancel (just like a regular ticketed concert).
Shall I provide refreshments?
Coffee and tea with cake or cookies is very common. More elaborate refreshments are not expected or required, and are totally at the host’s discretion. Some hosts ask their guests to bring a dish or dessert to add to the festivities.
Is there a need for sound or lighting?
Depending on the size of the audience, most house concerts can be unamplified.
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