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.
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?