One of the first steps to take as a house concert host is to gather a useful list of as many invitees as possible.
Attendance, for many hosts, is the most challenging part of hosting house concerts. For some hosts, throwing a party and getting people to attend is second-nature. They have tons of acquaintances, are involved with many clubs, groups, charities and maybe even a reputation for holding great events. For most of us, however, it takes a bit of work and and some planning.
A full room adds so much to the feeling of a concert – whether that number is 15 or 1500. Performers really sense and feed off the energy in a room when they play. Empty seats, however, suck the energy out of any event.
There's a common expression in music – "the crowd made the show," and you'll see it happen first-hand when you host your events.
First, it's important to get some leverage. If you think purely in terms of people you see consistently and know personally, you will seriously limit your resources.
Second, don't neglect to invite someone simply because you don't think they'll be into it. It's so much fun when you see someone "converted." Time and time again the biggest compliments come from people who begrudgingly attended – thinking it wasn't their kind of thing, who then were blown away by the quality and fun-factor of the show. You'll provide information, and links to the music, and let people decide for themselves.
Finally, your invitation list will always be a work in progress. You'll also create a nice form to display at each of your events to enlist anyone who may have come as an invitee of one of your friends. As your list grows, your events will become easier to promote.
Most house concert presenters use their email programs to create a list from their address books, and use our free, attractive flyers to promote their events. However, in addition to your current email program, there are many websites and programs that can help you do this:
- eVite – free, though it requires your invitees to register with the site when making an RSVP.
- Socializr – free, though it requires your invitees to register with the site when making an RSVP.
- ectoRes – free, simple, and with a few nice features designed for house concert presenters.
- Constant Contact – feature-filled website which allows you to send attractive HTML emails, but costs $15-30/month
- Create a list of everyone you know within an hour's drive of your home. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, club members, parents of your kids friends, fellow soccer-moms, the fantasy-football buddies (ok, maybe?), etc.
- Gather any missing email addresses (and phone numbers if you like.)
- Keep a notepad, index card, or some visual reminder with you for the next 3 weeks. Get in the habit of adding people you meet, or have overlooked in your invite list. You'll be amazed at how many people you meet or bump into on a day to day basis that escaped your mind when you made the initial list. "I'm hosting a music event soon, and I'd like to invite you, can I get your email address?"
- Warm them up. Before you even book (or announce the performer) try sending an email like this:
Have you heard of house concerts? There is so much great talent out there, and these events look like so much fun, that I've decided to jump in and host a concert in my home. Have a look at this short video, and let me know if you'd be interested in coming to our first event. More details soon!