How to Organize a House Concert

How to Organize a Successful House Concert
With Dana Lyons

What is a House Concert?

A house concert is a concert at your house, or in the warmer months, perhaps in your yard. House concerts are a lovely and ancient way of sharing live music with your friends. It is one of the fastest-growing venue types for live entertainment, for all musical genres.

Size of Room and Suggested Donation

Ideally the house concert is held in a room that can hold 35 or more people. The suggested donation at most house concerts ranges from $10-$20, though in some communities it might be less or more. The money collected goes to the artist to pay for tour and living expenses.

Turning Out Your Community

The main responsibility for the house concert host (in addition to providing the “concert hall”) is to turn out your community and fill the room. Some methods of promoting the show include sending out a series of emails, talking it up amongst your friends (“you gotta see this guy!”), and phone calls to remind them about the concert. I’ll include a suggested checklist for house concert communications and promotion below.

Food at the House Concert

This is completely up to the host. Some hosts like to provide some snacks and beverages for the audience. Some hosts have a snack, dinner or dessert potluck. Some hosts don’t do food at all.

Encourage the Audience to Bring Some Folding Chairs

Most of us don’t have a stash of 35+ chairs lying around the house. If you don’t have enough chairs, invite the audience to bring some folding chairs. Also, some folks might not mind sitting on the floor.

Pre-Show Tickets

Offering pre-show tickets can be a good idea if you can only seat a limited number of folks. Pre-show tickets help insure folks making reservations will actually attend. There tends to be an attrition rate of around 20% for unpaid reservations. If you like, I can set up pre-sale tickets at

Sound System

I usually travel with a small sound system (unless I’m flying). While many performers are fine playing an unamplified house concert, singing through a sound system is helpful for me as it helps me avoid straining my voice. If I’m not traveling with a sound system, I’ll let you know and we can hunt one down for your house concert.

Whether or Not to Make the Concert Open to the Public

Some house concert hosts are fine with me listing the house concert on my website and inviting the general public. Others prefer to personally invite folks from their circle and not have it included on my website. Either way is fine. If you’re not sure which is the best way to go, we can talk more about this on the phone.


Printable Checklist

When Date is Confirmed:

☐ Print some fliers with the concert info. Include the date, time, address, where to get tickets (at the door and/or via Brown Paper Tickets), potluck (if any), brief write up about Dana (Dana can supply this or feel free to write up your own blurb). Hand these out to friends when you run into them.  Printing four fliers per sheet of paper works well.

☐ Start inviting friends to the show when you see them or via email, social media, phone, etc.

One Month Before the Concert

☐ Email an invitation to your friends with concert details

☐ Facebook, Twitter, etc.

☐ Continue handing out fliers and talking up the show

One Week Before the Concert

☐ Email the concert invitation to your friends again

☐ Facebook, Twitter, etc., again

☐ Continue handing out fliers and talking up the show

☐ Start gathering snacks and beverages if you’re going to provide them

☐ As you speak with folks, remind them to bring chairs, if needed

One or Two Days Before the Concert

☐ Email the concert info to your friends again

☐ Facebook, Twitter, etc., again

☐ Phone folks who might need a reminder. (Phoning up folks the day of the show, or a day or two before, really helps turnout.)

Day of the Concert

☐ Facebook, Twitter, etc., one last time

☐ Email reminder to folks who might need it

☐ Dana usually arrives about 90 minutes early to set up

☐ Let the good times roll!

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