Can the opener’s guest attend for free?

A performer asks,


“I am playing an opener set soon for a smallish long-established house concert series. We have been told the host “prefers” not to do any comped/free admission. I will be traveling with my partner, and I ain’t about to ask her to stand outside while I play. Nor do I find it appropriate to fork over a twenty out of my minimal fee so she can have a chair. Not to mention, I’m just the opener . . .

How do other hosts handle the occasional “guest of the performer” or comp requests; ie. what is reasonable to expect?”


I don’t have a lot of data on that front, because opening acts are rare at house concerts. The general feeling I have (and many agree) is that it usually creates a 3rd set and a second intermission, and stretches the night too long, even if it’s just 3-4 songs. If the main act is only playing one set, then openers makes more sense, but we find that to be unusual too.
I think the relationship you have with the host is a big part of it. I’ve seen hosts “allow” an opener and feel like they are doing them a favor, and others be very enthusiastic about treating the opener with the same thoughtfulness as the main act. There’s a lot of ground in between, as well.


Well established hosts are often deeply committed to maximizing revenue for the main act (that’s why they are so in demand). They also might be stretching themselves with a guarantee they might not fully cover with donations… in those cases, it would make sense to have a “no freebie” policy, since any unpaid guest might come out of their own pocket – especially if there’s an agent counting heads.


  • If you feel honored to open this show, you have the opportunity to be gracious and pay for your spouse/guest.
  • If you don’t feel honored enough, you can always ask to “confirm if your spouse or +1” can attend as your free guest.
  • The third option is to buy her a shirt that says “crew,” “roadie,” or “guitar technician” and teach her how to tune guitars.

While we do like to promote standards (100% donations go to artists, suggested donations, set lengths, etc.) we have to allow hosts and artists to meet somewhere in the middle of each parties expectations. As usual, the best answer is dialog. Gracious, thoughtful and kind dialog.

Mileage may vary.