House parties are very trendy right now among secular musicians. The stereotype of house parties being primarily for teenagers, with loud music and alcohol has given way to an upscale chic version of an intimate concert setting where fans can hear and meet the band.
Will house parties work for your Christian band?
The possible success of house parties depends on your band and your fans. In general bands with fewer members that play well at lower volumes do well with house parties. House parties are potentially much more profitable in areas where much of the bands fan base is middle to upper income. Bands that book themselves also tend to do better at house parties because booking agents do not like to take care of all the details involved with setting up each party.
Here is what your Christian band needs for successful house parties:
• Band members must be sociable. You are going to be hanging put with a small group of your fans all night. They came to spend time with you, so if you do not enjoy being around people house parties are not for you.
• The band needs to be flexible in set up – houses have varying areas to use as a stage and are not usually wired with separate electrical circuits in each room.
• A small sound system is provided by the band. Most likely you will at least want to mic the vocals.
• The abibilty to perform unplugged as needed because of the room size and electrical constraints of homes. If the band can play unplugged or partially unplugged, you will be able to accept the greatest number of shows.
• Flexibilty during your set. Create a set list, but know that you will probably be taking requests. Every fan wants to hear their favorite song and in this intimate setting they will ask you to play it.
• Play as long as needed. Flexible start and end times are expected with most parties.
There are no set rules for how much a band should get paid to play a house party. But, the fee structure definitely determines the possible profitability of house parties for your band.
Ways to Structure House Party Performance Fees:
• The band takes donations from the guests. This method is what most Christian bands use because Christians are very familiar with musicians working for donations. If your bands fans are primarily middle to upper income and over 30 years old, this may be your bands most profitable method.
• The host pays the band a set fee directly out of their pocket. We see this form of payment being used primarily when parents hire a band to play for their teens graduation of birthday party. The band does not usually sell much merchandise at these parties (unless the parents buy gifts in bulk for everyone attending in advance) so be sure to set you fees high enough to make the gig worth doing without merchandise sales.
• The host pays the band a set fee and the guests pay a door cover charge to the host. This is the up and coming trend and potentially the most profitable for most bands. Here is how it works: The band charges the host a fee which the host is responsible to pay out of their own pocket. The host is given lots of marketing tools by the band such as prewritten e-mail invitations, freebies sent to them in advance (t-shirts, CD’s etc.), links to music videos they can post in their social media. The host then either sells tickets or charges at the door (anywhere from $5 to $50). The host keeps whatever money they collect to offset their fee and hopefully make a profit. In this scenario the band is justified asking a large amount of money because the host has the opportunity to recoup it. Many hosts are motivated because they get to help the band out and get free stuff without costing them much.
• The band takes a cut of the door cover charge. This is the worst possible scenario for bands. The host may or may not be motivated to get guests so the band could end up with almost nothing.
The always host pays for all expenses of the party, including advertising or invitations and refreshments.
A word of caution: Beware of playing a house party in the same house the band will be sleeping. Fans have a tendency to stay and talk all night if they do not see you packing up to leave. You might not get the rest you need before the next show. If this situation occurs, talk to your host ahead of time. They should be prepared to ask guests to leave at an appropriate hour.
Whenever you can work it out, book a house party the day before or after a bigger show in the same town. This is a great way to decrease travel expenses by playing 2 back to back shows without affecting attendance at either gig.
It is certainly not mandatory that every Christian band play house parties just because it is the trendy thing to do right now. For some bands it is just not the right choice of a venue. But if it is a good choice for your band, with a little extra work you can add a potentially good stream of income while you are developing deeper relationships and personal ministry with your fans.
Interested in learning about booking more shows? We created a free PDF Band Booking Calendar to help you know when to book which types of venues and how to go about it. Click this button to get your free Band Booking Calendar:
This article is an excerpt from The Christian Band Handbook.
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