This guest post is written by Patrick McGuire for Bandzoogle
Are you ready for your touring life to change? (Who would say no to that.) Well here’s some advice that’s surely going to achieve that feat immediately.
When you think about touring, you’re probably imagining screaming crowds and teched-out stages loaded with fancy sound equipment. By comparison, the modesty of playing shows in people’s houses might seem a bit boring. But often these shows aren’t just more rewarding financially and creatively, they’re also tons of fun.
In fact, no matter what level of fame you’ve got going for you—whether you’re just starting out or selling out venues—house shows can work in your favor in lots of ways. It’s not only about money, or fan intimacy, or having a free place to sleep without needing to drive; house shows will warm your heart every time. Here’s why.
The musician-fan connection
Sure, there’s nothing like playing up on a big stage in front of a huge crowd of people, but when you look out into a sea of black, you definitely lose a bit of that fan connection on which most musicians thrive. On the other hand, house shows are startlingly intimate, and that’s a huge benefit for bands interested to build solid connections with their listeners in a digitally obsessed world.
Today’s audiences are craving these authentic connections that they can’t find through a YouTube video or Facebook status. Sitting a few feet away from a musician that’s pouring everything they’ve got into a song has the power to create a bond that a listener will appreciate and remember forever.
Forcing innovation and resourcefulness
You’re going to have to get creative when it comes to pairing down your set for a house show, and this is a good thing. Barriers get put up between musician and audience the more technology is required in a live set; this is how you tear those barriers down. Typically, you’ll want to strip your sound down to its raw essentials for a house show.
This means to put on a solid performance, you’re going to have to know your songs really well. On the flip side, the intimacy of these types of gigs also makes it a great environment to test out new ideas and workshop never-before-heard songs—which only adds to how special these events are for the audience. All in all, house shows are great for musical creativity.
Let’s revisit that musician-fan connection idea.
Normally at a bar, you’re shouting just to get the attention of an already distracted crowd. But at a house show, all eyes and ears are on you. This means that if and when you develop a close connection with your fans, they’ll be much more likely to want to help support your journey.
This applies not only to merch sales, but also donations. It might be surprising to hear, but many unestablished bands make more money on a house show tour than they would on a conventional one.
And speaking of support, house shows have become extremely popular rewards in exchange for supporting an artist’s crowdfunding campaign as well. Crowdfunding is one of the best ways to re-contextualize “merchandise” as a mutually-beneficial giving cycle; and house shows are the gift that will give in all directions, believe me.
Easier DIY booking
Booking a DIY tour is incredibly tough for new or unestablished bands, but you probably already knew that. What you might not know is that wrangling together shows at houses and other intimate settings can be a lot easier of a process.
First of all, house shows typically don’t require a huge staff, so there’s less pressure to draw crowds. And crowds tend not to be a problem considering the local networks of your domestic hosts.
Secondly, by nature, these shows are also raw, quirky, and welcoming (most of the time), so touring bands usually fit right in, even if the crowd has no idea who they are. More often than not, these small shows are facilitated by music-lovers who understand band culture and what touring is actually like.
Thirdly, there are even networks you can apply to like Side Door, Concerts In Your Home and Sofar Sounds that do most of the work for you. If you have solid music to share, there’s a house show out there that would love to have you.
Fun (no, seriously)
Alright, I don’t want to keep you for much longer—you’ve got house concerts to go book! But there’s one last reason why, in my opinion, a DIY house show tour is going to change your life.
Simply put, these shows are just more fun. Whether you end up playing in front of five people or 50, the up-close excitement of it all is just really invigorating and special.
Since it takes place in someone’s house, listeners are almost always kind and respectful, and, well, listening. That means your chances of winning over actual fans increase at house shows. In addition to new fans, you’re almost guaranteed to make some new friends as well.
So when you come through that town or city again in the future, guess who’s going to be coming to your gig time and time again? The connections you make during a house concert will fuel your touring in that area for years to come.