The 2018 Brad Hoshaw HOUSE CONCERT HOST GUIDE
Hi! I'm so happy you're interested in hosting a house concert. In my experience as a performer, house concerts have been – by far – the most fun, rewarding and memorable concerts I've ever been a part of. I'm excited we have the opportunity to experience this together.
This guide will take you step-by-step through the method by which I'll organize all the house concerts on my 2018 Summer House Concert Tour. Through a lot of research, I have learned a lot about how to structure these shows to make them the most enjoyable and successful events that they can be.
- It's important that you read this all the way through, even if you've hosted a house concert before, so that we're on the same page as we start planning together.
At the end of reading through the guide, if all the parameters seem good to you, then I'll have a short list of questions for you that I'll use to pick a date for your house concert.
I hope this will inspire you and get you excited for what is guaranteed to be one of the most unforgettable things we do all year. Ready?
#1: The "House"
I have staged house concerts in living rooms, backyards, and on back patios; in small houses, big houses, condos and apartments; at a winery, in an art studio, and at a local theater. The point is that the "house" can be any space you have access to where your friends can gather, sit, and enjoy a concert.
- The only requirement for the space is that everyone in attendance must be able to gather in the same space, seated, for the entirety of the hour-long concert.
Pre- and post-concert mingling can of course spill into other rooms or areas of the property, but I ask that for the concert time, everyone is gathered close and seated, together, directly in front of where I'll be set up to perform. I've learned that seating around tables for the concert works against the creation of the intimate experience I aim to bring to the audience, so I ask that there be no table seating for the performance.
It's fine if there aren't enough chairs for everybody – carpet seating in a packed living room or blankets on the lawn in the backyard can work great as extra seating options.
#2: The Date
I will work with you to pick a date for your house concert. This is fun and exciting, and it's also a bit hectic on my end, as I am juggling several different hosts' schedules to make things work for everyone as I move in a (hopefully somewhat) logical way around the US playing concerts almost every day of the week.
In a perfect world, every day would be the weekend, and then I could do a house concert on the weekend. However, a quick look at the calendar reminds us that in fact Friday and Saturday only account for about 28% of the week – but I play shows nearly every night! This means that in reality your concert will have about a 72% chance of falling on a "school night."
But don't dispair! While weekend shows can certainly be a lot of fun, I've had some of my best shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The bottom line is that if you have a good group of people, you can't stop the fun from happening, no matter the day. And, this is not a particularly lengthy event; the time from guest arrival until the music is done is typically only about two hours (more on this in a minute) – making this the perfect event for a unique weekday evening get-together.
So, if you want a weekend date, I will certainly try to make that work – but keep in mind that other people want one too, and there are only two per week. Thanks in advance for being flexible so that I can accommodate as many potential hosts as possible.
- At the end of this guide, one of the questions I'll have for you is to provide me with any dates in August and September that you will be unavailable to host your house concert. So if you have a vacation planned, or a wedding to attend, or a regular weekly event that make you unavailable, I'll want to know each of those things to help me plan the tour.
#3: The Guests
To create the best possible scenario for a successful show, I ask that you have a minimum of 20 adults in attendance.
There are two reasons I ask you have this minimum number of people at the show 1) Fewer than 20 people and the concert doesn't feel like the exciting event it should be; and 2) In my donation-based concert model, 20 or more adults contributing donations and purchasing merchandise is what starts making it a financially viable night for me.
In my experience, making sure there is a minimum of 20 people there usually means that the host will need to invite a good deal more than 20. The typical scenario seems to be about half of those invited tend to actually come to the event.
- So, invite double the number of people you'd like to have at the concert. If you're aiming for 20, invite 40; and so on.
If you aren't sure you'll be able to get 20 adults to come on your own, you might "co-host" the show with a friend who also has a group of people to invite, and increase your overall attendance.
If your space can hold more people and you want to have more, then great, the more the merrier. If you have an idea for something bigger, I can absolutely do it, and I'm eager to hear what you have in mind. I've done house concerts with as few as 20 and as many as 100 people in attendance, and have loved every one of them.
Human Adults only, please
Because the show has a lot of quiet parts, and because it's essential that I'm able to create and maintain an uninterupted focus on the performance for the whole concert, I ask that there be no kids or dogs in attendance during the concert.
That said, if it's that rare kid who can sit silently and listen to music for an uninterrupted hour, like a little grown-up, that's okay. Every child is different, but I've found that age 10 generally seems to be a rough line dividing those able to display good concert etiquitte from those who may end up causing a distraction.
If you're in doubt, it's best to err on the side of caution. Having someone create a disturbance mid-show can significantly affect the audience's experience, which can in turn significantly affect my income. As much as I love kids, this is my job. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation with this detail!
- If you have kids, or if you have friends who want to come but who would be unable to come if their small kids couldn't come along, I ask that you arrange to have a responsible adult take charge of the kids in a physically & acoustically separate space during the concert.
This could be a babysitter or a parent willing to volunteer for the duty, and they should take the kids to another room in the house – a place that is sonically isolated from the performance space – and keep them there for the entirety of the concert portion of the event. This works great, and of course the kids are more than welcome to hang out with everyone before and after the performance.
Also, if you think you'll have some sitting-quietly-and-listening kids in attendance, I've still found that a minimum of 20 adults is what makes for a viable event, so make sure to count the kiddos as "extras" when putting together your guest list.