Although the house concert concept is nothing new (ever heard of a Schubertiad?), the current changes in the classical musical field might be the perfect fertile ground for many of us to gain a following through playing in people's houses. Where things get interesting is through companies like Home Routes, who book the artists and venues, so artists, agent, and venue are all paid through a small cover charge. And since it looks like Home Routes specializes in the folk-oriented evenings, the field is wide open for someone to create a classical-oriented operation along the same lines.
Here's an introductory video about the house concert experience from Concerts in Your Home:
Links to more resources, which I'll be updating as more information becomes available:
What is a house concert?
Musicians are in the house, a Vancouver Sun article also featuring Home Routes
How to put on the perfect house concert by Bob Bossin w/Martha Stewart
House concerts: a cottage industry from Concert Blog
House concerts for art music: multiple stakeholders, audience development, and sustainability, presented by Anne Ku at the 16th International Conference on Cultural Economics, Copenhagen
House Concerts Guide and 2010 Calendar
Classical House Concerts
Living Room Concerts
Bobcat House Concerts
Shady Grove House Concerts
Music Up Close House Concerts
I like how many of these start-ups are either created by the artists themselves or act like agencies for the artists they represent. Since it doesn't take much money to set up a living room and the presenters presumably billet the artists, costs can be kept down for everyone involved. If an agency is able to book artists on a complete regional tour, the musicians could conceivably make a decent profit from the tour. From the Star article:
Podolak says the admission to attend a house concert is $15, with the musicians keeping 85% of the gross and Home Routes retaining 15%. Musicians are billeted and fed by homeowner presenters, and Podolak says performers can net as much as “$2,000 per week.”If you're looking to go this route as a classical artist, you'll need to identify your audience, connect with them, bring them into your ensemble's community (probably via Facebook these days), and eventually leverage that trust to sell your product, whether CDs, future concert appearances or other materials. Also see the previous post Impending Doom or Golden Opportunity? for a look at how the rockabilly quartet The Millwinders are able to create a regional cult following by playing in small venues.
What house concert experiences have you had? If you were performing, how were you compensated for your work? Homeowners: what were the takeaways from hosting an event? Companies: is this a worthwhile business opportunity? If you were in the audience, did you have to pay a cover charge? How much? Did you feel you got your money's worth?
Feel free to leave your answers in the comments. Anonymous commenters are welcome, as always.