Hosts: What is your backup plan?

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The show must go on… so, do you have a back up plan?

You broke your foot. You live alone, and there’s no way you can prep the house and host a show that’s coming up in ten days. What do you do?

One of the most heartbreaking parts of touring is the canceled show. One broken concert date can dramatically change the finances of a tour. Fuel, food, and lodging expenses pressure artists to work every day on the road, and canceled shows often put artists at a loss for the whole trip.

Sometimes it can be challenging for a host to keep their promise of a show. Illness, injury, weather, work emergencies, and death in the family are just some of the events that can put a house concert in jeopardy. Create your backup plan in advance and avoid letting down your artists and audience.

Let’s come up with a backup host and venue.

The easiest way to solve both problems is to turn your house concert series into a partnership, with you as the leader. Some of our most successful house concert series are partnerships of two or three couples, who take turns hosting the group effort in their homes. This is the first and best example of a back-up plan. If something happens to one host, the event is moved, guests are notified, and another couple takes up the responsibility that night.

Another way to enlist a backup host is to have a friend/volunteer to stand in for you at your place. Obviously, they would have to be well-acquainted with your home/space and the responsibilities of hosting – so it’s best to groom your backup host by having them volunteer at your events for a while.

Outside-In or another space.

If you prefer to have your shows outside and uncovered, it is critical to have an indoor option in case of bad weather. If your show is scheduled for the backyard, get a sense of how you could have the show inside – even if it means the audience has to be considerably smaller. If there’s no way to host inside, ask if any of your neighbors or nearby friends would be willing to be the backup venue. Also, is there a local restaurant, club, or cafe that could take on the show you’ve organized?

Backup Lodging – if you’ve offered a guest room to your artist, be sure that your plans include a replacement room if necessary.

Canceling still requires a backup plan.

Granted, there is such a thing as “enough notice” to cancel. But if you find yourself wanting to cancel a show less than 8 weeks ahead of time, it’s almost certain that you will impose a significant loss to your scheduled artist.

It’s also possible your artist could be O.K. with canceling if you are willing to reschedule. Maybe they need rest and could use a night off, or would rather not play a show that is significantly different than they expected.

Call your artist or their agent and have a conversation about the situation, and see if they are OK with your backup plan or if they have another idea or option. You’ll want to confirm the change of plans by email, but it’s easier to be creative and collaborative on the phone.

Some hosts go to extraordinary lengths in the spirit of “the show must go on,” and they get a great sense of pride from honoring their commitment through adversity. We’ve seen hosts follow through when their house flooded, and one stayed committed for a show that was the day before his father’s funeral. Still, some shows get canceled, but there are ways to avoid or minimize some of the pain.

Offering and honoring a financial guarantee

For some hosts a financial guarantee is the simplest and easiest way to minimize the losses to the artist. Many hosts offer a minimum guarantee when they book a concert. That way, the artist can confidently take on the expenses of travel, knowing that no matter the attendance or circumstances, they’ll make enough money to cover their expenses.

The opportunity here is to decide on a guarantee in case of cancelation. For example, if the guarantee for the show is $500, you would offer $250 if the show is canceled less than 8 weeks out. Few artists take the time to ask for this, it’s a great sign of respect for a host to offer a cancelation fee, even if it’s only $50-100. This small token along with a rescheduled concert date can make a big difference.

TenTen Concert format makes it easier to recruit help.

Finally, it’s important to remind ourselves that house concerts don’t have to be big to be fruitful. Even someone with a small home can become a host, if they can get 10 or more people to attend on weeknights. Read about TenTen Concerts.

Your backup plan is an opportunity to get new friends involved with music, and possibly make them fall in love with house concerts too. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to improve people’s lives. Give them the opportunity to volunteer – as a partner host or a backup volunteer!

A backup plan can help secure your legacy as a great house concert host. Sit down and brainstorm ways you can prevent unexpected problems. Hopefully you’ll never need it. But the benefits of creating partners and volunteers will make your concerts more enjoyable, and the peace of mind your plan offers will make the effort worthwhile.

Download our free house concert guide at

What if your artist cancels the show?