Be An "American Idol",
One House at a Time
Article by David Nevue - February 2009
Back to Internet Music Promotion 101
You Talk, You Share, You Play...
I'm a big fan of house concerts... when I go out on tour, about a third of the concerts I perform are in people's homes. There's nothing quite
like it. I LOVE playing them. You meet so many great people on a
one-to-one basis. You talk, you share, you play... and these folks love
your music. So going in, you have that in common. Makes it easy to
Don't Scoff at the Size...
You may scoff at the idea of playing a concert in a
persons home because you are concerned about SIZE. The size of the
audience doesn't matter. In fact, you will likely find, as I did, that
playing a concert to a small audience in a home is much more effective
and financially lucrative than playing in a "typical" venue.
much money do you usually command when you play a show in a club? $100
bucks? $200? I typically ask $500 for a house concert. I know musicians
who charge as much as $1500 for an intimate home show. Now, I don't do
that, because personally I want my concerts to be affordable to the
average person. Most people won't and can't justify paying $1500 for a
concert. But if someone is a real fan of your music, they'll find a way
to come up with $500 for a show custom tailored just for them - and
they'll be even more stoked about if it you offer to play their
favorite songs for them in their own home.
And what's even MORE
fantastic about playing house concerts is how easy they are to do. All
you have to do is show up and bring your instrument (if you are a
pianist, as I am, you can play THEIR instrument. In that case, you just
bring the clothes on your back and CDs and merch to sell). Your concert host does
all the promotion, bringing in their friends, family and coworkers to
show off YOUR music - which is among their favorite music - to their
personal network of friends.
So you have no promotion costs to
worry about. Oh, and guess what? The host provides the food too. And
they will probably even invite you stay the night to save you that
And how are CD sales? Ridiculous. At least, compared to playing a club.
you play a club, how many fans are there to see YOU? Or do you play and
do your thing while people mill about talking, eating and drinking and
hardly take notice you? Maybe you sell a CD here and there, but are you
selling DOZENS of them?
At a house concert, you have a totally
attentive audience. You can engage them, telling stories about your
songs, laughing together, crying together, sharing not only your music,
but YOURSELF with them.
And if you're engaging, and if your storytelling and your music touches them, you'll sell CDs like candy.
I play a house concert, I generally sell an average of 1 CD per person
in the audience. There are those who don't buy, but those are made up
for by those who buy multiple CDs.
So with one house concert to
say 30 people (about 15 couples), which is about my average, I'll sell
30-40 CDs. Let's say 35. At a $12 per CD average, that's $420. Plus my
$500 fee. That's $920 for 3 hours of playing and hanging out with
people who love my music. Oh, and they provide me a meal and a place to
stay. What's that worth? Another $120 bucks?
So when I play a
house concert I come out ahead by $1,000 bucks a night. If you sell
merchandise as well, you can do even better.
More Than Just Money...
Now that's great
money, and if you're in it for the money, then, well, there you go. But
I'm not in it just for the money. House concerts are also a great way
to develop relationships with your fans. And if your life and music are
faith-based and ministry-based, as mine is, then there is no better way
to connect with people and share your faith and testimony.
about meeting and touching REAL people with REAL lives. Encouraging
people who love your music. Exhorting them. Lifting them up. Helping
them to get back on their feet. Making a difference, one home at a time.
back to the money, because I know that's an important factor. We all
have to support our families and our art. None of us want to lose money
on a tour.
I've played to house concert audiences as small as
seven people. Guess what? I still made $500 bucks plus a few CD sales.
On the other side of the spectrum, I've played house concerts to over a
hundred people - and sold well over a hundred CDs at a show. Almost
$2,000 for 3 hours of work? That buys a lot of groceries. My wife loves
And it goes beyond that. ANYTIME I play a house concert, I
see lots of follow up sales through my web site. Fans invite their
friends to the concert, their friends buy a CD, love it, then buy more
music via my web site or iTunes. They tell their friends. They are
excited they saw me live, in person, and actually met me. They are
jazzed. And the next time I come to town, guess what? These new fans
want their OWN concert. And they bring their friends, and now I'm
playing to MORE people. Which leads to...
More OPPORTUNITY. Not only financially, but to build relationships that are lasting.
I talk about setting up house concerts in my book, How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet. If you haven't got that already, you might want to check that out.
In today's connected world, with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace being all the rage, setting up a house concert tour is easier than ever before.
Read the story of solo bassist Steve Lawson. You'll find his blog posting about his own house concert tour experience at http://www.stevelawson.net/wordpress/2009/02/real-life-touring-a-social-media-fuelled-tale/ . It's well worth reading.
Also recommended: Concerts in Your Home.
Fill Those Empty Nights...
the next time you're on tour and want to fill up those empty nights on
your calendar, start talking with your fans in the area. Offer to play
in their homes. You can ask your fee or even just ask for donations
from the crowd. You might not make as much in donations, but playing a
show in someone's home and making $200 from donations plus any CD sales
you do is better than sitting at a hotel all by your lonesome eating
pizza and watching American Idol.
Play house concerts and you can BE an American Idol, one house at a time.
The Music Biz Academy
is the founder of The
Music Biz Academy
Solo Piano Radio. He is also a professional pianist,
recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."
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