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Shannon toured and gigged as a musician through college. She was able to fund her own tours by playing colleges, a venue that’s typically pretty well-paying. However, she wasn’t seeing the exponential growth she wanted – it was more of a very slow build.

During the summer of 2011, she got an email from a friend in San Diego inviting her to play at her house. Shannon’s thoughts were that at least she would make back the gas money. That hour long concert really flipped her thinking. It really presented the perfect performance scenario, free of distractions and full of opportunities to connect on a deeper level. At the end of the night, Shannon made way more than gas money. The light bulb went on.

The house concert outperformed the traditional gigs in every single way – they made more money, sold more merch, and collected more emails

Here are 5 of the main points behind Shannon’s house concert strategy.

1. Don’t get stuck in the box

When you think of gigging and touring, house concerts isn’t what comes to mind. We all have a traditional idea of a tour in our mind, and that kind of box can really hold you back. If Shannon hadn’t been willing to try an entirely house concert tour because it wasn’t the “normal” approach, she never would have stumbled on her model. (A model that has proved to work time and time again.)

2. Learn as you go

If you have a set plan before you and don’t adapt to the changing environment and opportunities that present themselves, you will only get so far in music. Shannon saw the results from the first tour and, on a whim, scheduled out more house concerts in between traditional gigs. If she hadn’t taken the time to notice the results of that initial house concert, she would still be in the traditional gig grind that so many musicians are stuck in.

3. This is a Concert not a Party

A house concert is not a house party. In a house party, the social encounters are the main event, and as a result the music gets ignored or pushed to the background. If you’re playing parties – like college parties or wedding receptions – looking for tips, you will find that you won’t be able to make enough to even cover your expenses. If, on the other hand, you set the event up like a concert – one where you are the main focus – you will see the effect on the bottom line.

This is a physical and atmospheric endeavour. Set chairs up like a concert hall, have a specific set length, a set start and stop time, a professional-looking merch set up, and a real tip bowl. You will find after one show that you’ll make more in donations. You are creating a controlled environment where people can really connect with you and your music, and that connection leads to donations and sales.

4. Start with what you have

Anyone can start with house concerts. Start with the community you have and it will build from there. Because the concerts are donation-based, it doesn’t have to cost hosts anything to host a house concert. All they need is a space and 20 friends to RSVP. If you don’t have much of a mailing list or following on social media, start with people you actually know – your friends and family.

Shannon has found that the process of finding hosts is almost viral. Every single night she gets approached by someone new asking her to play at their house. The number one key is to just take the leap, ditch your pride, and do your first house concert.

5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Donations

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Shannon’s model is entirely based on donations, and the key is to keep the donations open. As soon as you put an expected donation, you alienate guests that may be going through tough financial times and you prevent the guests with means from providing a generous donation. It may seem easier to just sell tickets, but in the end you’ll be putting a HUGE limitation on your earning potential.

If you’re thinking of using house concerts to connect with your fans and make more money on the road, you can buy Shannon’s book here. She takes you step by step through her house concert strategy, laying it out so you can easily adapt it for your own career.

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In today’s music industry, there is a lot of hype around direct-to-fan models. You can talk with your fans directly on social media or through email, you can sell directly to your fans, and now many artists are applying direct-to-fan strategies to the live industry and taking concerts right to their fans’ houses.

Shannon Curtis is one notable artist who has been extremely successful in the house concert market. In fact, she’s developed a system that made her $25,000 in just 2 months! Shannon joined me in an incredible webinar where we show you just exactly how she did that, and more.

At first glance, planning a house concert tour may seem overwhelming, but as you’ll see in this article, it’s very manageable and can be very rewarding. If you want to see how to set up a house concert tour of your own, check out this free webinar where she discusses all her best tips and strategies.

1. You Bypass the Gatekeepers

The live music industry is full of gatekeepers, mainly because there are so many musicians competing for so few gigs. On top of that, being a physical establishment, venues have bottom lines to meet and therefore need to be very selective of the bands they choose.

Don’t wait for someone to open the door for you! Go past the gatekeepers and bring the show directly to your fans. In Shannon’s experience, anyone with any kind of fanbase can be successful with house concerts. The costs to you are mainly your travel expenses to get there. Check out the webinar to learn exactly how to make your house concert successful.

2. You Get a Bigger Piece of the Pie

When you play in a traditional venue or club, the money is split between you, the promoter, and the booking agent. As a result, you get a much smaller piece of the pie, and in many cases, no money at all.

When you do a house concert, the only person you need to worry about paying is yourself, and after travel expenses, all the money is yours to keep. With that in mind, house concerts can turn out to be much more profitable than traditional gigs.

3. Booking is Easier

If you’ve ever tried to book a gig, you know it can be painful jumping through all those hoops. You may need to email and call people five times before you can get anything rolling. Believe it or not, from Shannon Curtis’s experience, house concerts are actually much easier to organize.

When you ask some of your Super Fans to host a house concert, they will most likely be excited to host the concert and get into it, instead of ignoring you. This means that it will be easier to connect with them when you’re trying to organize things. Shannon’s had some hosts who really went above and beyond to put on a great event.

4. You Spend Less Time Promoting

As an independent artist, the job of promoting your gigs falls squarely into your own hands. You need to spend weeks getting the word out to your fans through social media and your email list, and even then you’re not always guaranteed a good turnout.

In Shannon Curtis’s house concert model, the host invites at least 20 of their friends and family to attend the concert, and apart from the occasional flop you’re pretty much guaranteed to be playing for a small but attentive crowd. The only promotion you need to do is to broadcast to your fans that you’re looking for house concert hosts at the beginning of the process.

5. You Reach More New Fans

We’ve all experienced the frustration of playing the same venue to the same group of fans over and over. It can feel like your career is stagnant and you’re not reaching the new people vital for growth. House concerts are one of the best ways to get your music in front of new people.

In the two month house concert tour we talked about earlier, Shannon added 500 new names to her email list! These are 500 additional people who may end up buying her albums, songs, merch, tickets or other products.

6. You Build Long-Term Relationships

In addition to just the numbers, house concerts provide the perfect environment for fostering long-term relationships with fans, and the chance to create some Super Fans. Guests are more likely to give your music a chance because the host is a trusted friend or family member. When you add in the distraction free space and the direct social interactions you’ll have with fans before and after the show, house concerts can be a fan-building powerhouse.

 

As you can see, there’s more to planning a truly successful house concert than you may think. House concerts can be extremely lucrative for anyone if you have the right strategy. To help you, Shannon Curtis takes you step by step through her strategy in this free webinar. She’ll be sharing some of the best tips she’s learned by doing hundreds of house concerts. 

If you are interested in learning more about how you have create a plan for success for your band or career, check out the New Artist Model, the alternative online business school for independent musicians, songwriters, producers, managers and new businesses.