The Keys To A Successful House Concert

ouse shows are one of those great alternative venues that can help break the monotony of the endless bar circuit.

In most cases you will have a much more interested audience and the opportunity to make more money than a traditional venue would pay you.

When playing a house show there are a few important things that will ensure it goes over well and gives you a chance to be invited back.

Be Respectful

This is not a dive-bar, it’s a persons home. Remember that.

Don’t scratch up the host’s walls while setting up your equipment or leave beer stains on their floor. These are personal spaces, no matter the size of the home. So treat them like you would your own place.

Learn To Adapt

The secret to playing a great house show is your ability to play to the room. In most cases you will be playing on a floor, maybe in a living room or a basement. with a few dozen people in front of you. This isn’t the place to break out the Marshall stack and 32 piece drum kit.

Retool your songs so that you can easily go from playing loud to soft without having the song suffer.

If you can master this, you can play anywhere!

Read The Crowd

If people are there to relax and hear some music while sipping on a glass of wine, notice that. Play quieter acoustic songs that fit the vibe.

On the other hand, if this show is a celebration, turn up the volume and get people dancing.

Reading the vibe and atmosphere at house shows are important. Are you playing:

  • A quiet living room show?
  • A giant backyard shindig?
  • Or a college frat-house?

Each location requires a different performance on your part in order to make the best possible musical impact.

Involve The Audience

Since house shows by nature are usually intimate venues, be prepared to interact with the crowd to keep things flowing smoothly. Try to come up with some interesting anecdotes before hand about your songs, especially if you have trouble making things up on the spot.

You could also consider having some audience participation during your set. It will make the night much more memorable to everyone at the show and might even persuade a few of them to come see you again at the next house show.

Again, read the crowd. Would they be into this kind of thing?


This is a small gathering of people. Don’t show up, play, and then leave. Take the time to meet everyone, and collect a few email addresses for your mailing list. Have a small informal area set up to sell CDs and other merchandise.

People at house shows are usually much more receptive to buying merch, especially after you break the ice and talk to them personally.

Thank The Host

Lastly, make sure to thank the host for organizing the event and make it clear that you would love to do something like this again in the future.

Create a database of all the successful house shows you’ve played, so that you can contact the hosts the next time you are playing near their area.

House parties are a great source for alternative venues and offer you the possibility of making some good money.

But, most importantly, they give you direct access to your audience and the chance to make some real relationships with people, hopefully converting them into lifelong fans.

What are some of your house show experiences?

It’s Not Always About The Music

There’s that figure of speech, I’m sure you’ve heard it, ”Jack of all trades, master of none”. It often gets repeated in a tone that conveys this as being a bad thing.

However, that’s not always the case.

In fact, that saying used to be repeated as “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one“.

Now that, I think, is more like it.

While, you want to be a master at your music, obviously, there are many other areas of expertise which you can learn about that will help your music career progress.

Whenever you find yourself with some free time, pick a few of the following skills to become proficient at. You don’t need to master them, but having a working knowledge of many of these can help your music career in many different ways.

Web Coding

This is a big one. Your website is your hub. The place where you broadcast your music and brand to the world, and where your fans should come to congregate.

Learning intermediate levels of web design layout, HTML and CSS coding will be a great benefit to you, and a huge money saver.

Getting professionally designed websites can be expensive, if you can customize a WordPress layout on your own, while still making it look one of a kind, you are already on your way.


Take a photography class and learn the basics.

While you might want to splurge on a professional photographer for your main press photos, this is still a great skill to have for everything from taking great pictures on tour, to constant content for you website.

Graphic Design

Get a copy of Photoshop, or similar design software, and learn the basics. This will help you with everything from general design sense, to poster layouts, cd artwork, and more.
An understanding of the different file types is also a great advantage when you are dealing with print houses and trying to get artwork printed at a certain quality.

This is not to say that you shouldn’t hire professionals. However, you can’t afford professionals all the time, so buy their services when it really counts, and do what you can on your own the other times.


Learn to write. This is an important one. Improved writing skills will help you with everything from biography writing and blogger email requests to song lyrics and engaging tour stories for your fans.

Video Editing

With the dominance of YouTube and the rise of videosongs as an art-form, it would be a good idea to get your hands on some video editing software, and learn how to use it.

This can help you with everything from editing together your own videos to creating tour stories and live videos of you on the road.

This is just a small portion of the skills that will help out your music career. It goes on much longer than this.

But, don’t be overwhelmed by this list. Pick one skill that vaguely interests you and take it from there.

Grab a book from the library, or read a blog on the subject and get started. It’s always my philosophy to learn as much as you can, while you can. You can watch TV later.

What other areas of expertise do you think would help your music career?…