Open your Door to Hosting a Show
Are you considering hosting a show in your space but not sure how to take the first step? Here’s how and why you should get started in bringing live art to your community!
Start with the basics
First, before you start looking to book your favorite artist, make sure your host profile is complete and up to date. Your profile is vital; it’s your first opportunity to grab an artist's attention.
Take photos: we highly recommend using high-resolution images that highlight your space. Hot tip: make sure the stage area is tidy and include a picture of a past performance if possible. The key is to create a profile that honestly and accurately shows artists and ticket holders what to expect.
It’s okay if your space can only host 15 to 20 people - intimate experiences are often the most memorable.
Give your space a name: show off your personality! Don’t know where to start, here’s some inspiration for you:
Fort Awesome, Seattle, WA
Tyler & Jessica’s Backyard Design Studio - Winnipeg, MB
Gamba Forest - Brooklyn, NY
McArthur Castle - Kamloops, BC
Artists will want to know where you are and the vibe of your space, so it’s essential to indicate the type you have for hosting. Is it a condo, backyard setting, a farm, a studio, a listening room etc.? Note any aspects that make your space unique in the description.
Get more profile tips in our venue toolkit here.
You can be a Host
When you’re just starting, we often hear from hosts that there can be some reluctance to respond to an artist's request to connect or reach out to see if they want to book a show. Think about the reasons why you’re considering hosting in the first place.
Host Victoria from The.Victoria.House in Victoria, British Columbia - during our interview was currently prepping for her fourth Sail Cassidy show - and says she first felt the desire to host house concerts after losing a loved one, “We lost our mother-in-law to cancer very quickly in 2018, and we inherited her piano. It was a bit of an ah-ha moment of like, ‘okay, we have her piano - it needs to be played; we should have some people come to play it.’ To have someone come in and perform on it felt right.”
It felt right for George & Alyson of McNair’s House; when purchasing their Pittsburgh home, they imagined live music in their ample living room. After learning about Side Door from attending one of Dan Mangan’s online shows, they signed up and created a venue listing. This spring they hosted their first house concert with Status/Non-Status as the Canadian indie band toured their way to SXSW in Austin, Texas.
“It was a great experience; we loved having live music in our house and meeting the artists and having a reason to invite people over. It was very well-received and all-around with very positive feedback,” said Alyson in a post-show interview.
Will people come to my house?
If you ever wonder if people will buy tickets to see a musician, they might not know, long-time host, Doug of the Billsville House Concerts in Manchester, Vermont says the answer is “yes.”
“The idea that you are opening up your home and inviting all these people in is a good start, but sharing your passion for a musician or band you love - people will respond to that, and they will come. Even at this point after 140 plus shows, when we have a band it’s rare that 50% of people know the band. They are coming because we’re passionate about who we bring in.”
Start by inviting your circle of friends and family.
Connect with Artists on Side Door
Once you’ve got your profile looking good and you are ready to browse for an artist on Side Door to connect with, think about what kind of artist you’d like to book.
Is your space large enough for a full band, or would you prefer a solo acoustic set?
Maybe you want to focus on touring artists looking for gigs in-between tour dates or try out some local bands.
Alternatively, another way to open your door to hosting is, to begin with, someone you know that wants to perform a house concert. You can keep the show private and invite friends and family and use Side Door for the ticketing. This route allows you to see what works and what doesn’t in a low-stakes environment.
Now that McNair’s House has its first successful show in the books, George says they are already looking to do more, “We actually got a request from a duo from Cleveland to play here while the show was going on, so that’s our second request from a band to play at our house, we’ll consider it and hopefully do this again sometime soon.”
It’s about fostering community
Now more than a dozen shows in, including online, in-person and hybrid, Victoria is organically building her music community while creating unique lasting experiences, “I have signed posters by some of the artists who have done shows here, I’ve accumulated these moments and memories, so if you’re new to hosting and you love going to live music but you need a little more and want to dig in. This will really help flush out your connection to the music community where ever you live.”
It’s hard to ignore the creative pay-off of intimate live performance.
“At its best, it is a shared yet personal experience. The genuineness, spontaneity, and direct affiliation between artist and audience, when separated by mere meters, is a thing akin to magic. It’s what live art, at its purest, is about.” writes, Cory Stumpf host of McArthur Castle in Kamloops, British Columbia.
Are you ready to take that first step but still have questions about hosting? Ask a Side Door expert.
You can also find more tips from house concert hosts here.