House shows are gaining popularity in the music community, as they’re a great way to play to an attentive audience. While there’s usually a low or nonexistent door charge, musicians tend to sell a lot more merchandise at house shows, and they’re a worthy venture for all types of bands and solo artists. Here are a few tips for setting up, promoting, and hosting a house show for your band or acoustic act.
1. First, figure out how to not annoy your neighbors. This is a big first step, and it’s unique to house shows. Figure out the parking situation: it’ll work best for the house show if attendees can park in a big public lot, but if that’s not possible, talk to your neighbors individually to find out what spaces can be used for parking and put “no parking” signs next to spaces that can’t be used. This will greatly reduce the possibility of noise complaints. Figure out how sound will be run at the house show, and whether it will be audible from outside the house; if it is, you should try to rap up the show by 10 or so, unless you’ve got other clearance from your neighbors. If you don’t annoy your neighbors, you’ll be able to have house shows in the future, so take the time to be considerate.
2. Book acts. Invite local bands and acoustic acts that you know, or use Myspace to find some. Let them know that it’s a house show, and if you’re not charging at the door, be sure to be clear that there’s no up-front pay, just pay from merchandise sales. Let them know how long you expect them to play and any other details, and then make a flyer that you can hand out to bands and post in high-traffic places to promote the show.
3. Promote. In addition to the aforementioned flyer, use word of mouth as primary means to promote the show. Remember that you’re inviting people into your house, so if you’re not comfortable with that, only invite people that you or the other bands know. To be safe, hide valuables in the house or completely clear out the room that the show will take place in, to avoid accidents and theft.
4. Set up a pleasant atmosphere. Finally, set up a good atmosphere that will keep fans coming back to future house shows. Put up a banner and Christmas lights for mood, and buy soda and maybe some snacks for people to enjoy before and during the show. Don’t serve alcohol unless you can manage everyone who shows up: many states have laws that will make your show illegal if alcohol is served, and it increases the chances of annoying the neighbors.
Do you have any other tips for hosting a house show? Post in our comments section below.