I saw a good songwriter the other night. It is rare that I attend open mics – in fact, other than one put on right around the corner – which I attend as much for the company and energy as I do for performing, I haven’t attended one in a couple years.
But at the request of a friend, I attended this one. I spoke to the songwriter after and she expressed some frustration at her tour.. the same problem I hear a lot..
- Finding places where people listen
- Making any sort of money
You see, she is on the road.. on the road musicians often play open mics when they don’t have a traditional gig. The problem with that is that musicians are rarely fans… especially at open mics. They are largely yearning for the stage. There is nothing wrong with that.. they are supportive, they enjoy the music.. but they are not “fans” – in that traditional fan sense.
Also, the dynamic of waiting for an hour or two to perform 2 songs, is a bit trying. She needs a 30-45 minute set.
I asked her, “Have you done any house concerts?”
She replied, “I’ve heard of house concerts.. I don’t know how to get on the ‘circuit.'”
You and me both.. here is the challenge with the “traditional” house concerts venues around the country. The hosts might do 10-12 house concerts a year. They have their list of artists – maybe 10-30 that they already like. You need to crack that list and find a date they don’t have booked. It is not conducive to the typically planning of a tour… where you need sequential dates that follow a somewhat linear geographic pattern.
I told her, “Just create and find your own house concert venues. Draw from your mailing list – people who really like your music. Family, friends, and others. Start there and then grow it.”
I explained to her that you want to make it easy and help them understand that it isn’t a complicated or costly endeavor. You just want a good listening audience. Take as much work of the host’s plate as possible.
I provide the event page, invites, and postcards for them to give out. I’ll do mailings for them too. I even wrote a 1 page guide to hosting a house concert.
If you are a songwriter and want to start touring, start with your known list. If you are NOT building your list… oh.. that’s another topic for another day. But, suffice to say, your mailing list is your best friend.