10 Ways to Book More House Concerts

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Joy Ike and originally appeared on the Bandzoogle Blog. Joy is a Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter and the founder of the music business centered blog Grassrootsy.]

House concerts: everybody loves them, but most artists don’t know how to get them. They are the most-coveted type of gigs for singer/songwriters and acoustic bands. They don’t require a lot of promotional effort – which means less time behind your computer, and more time behind your instrument.

Yes, in the ecosystem of gigs, house concerts are king! So how do you book them? Here are some simple ways to make it happen!

1. Play out…a lot!

Public shows are your key to private ones. And house concerts are essentially private shows. The more you play out publicly, the more people know your music, and the more fans you have to pull from. More fans equals more potential house concert hosts.

If you do this right, 99% of your house concerts will come from people who already know you and have heard you perform live – not some house concert booking site that you have to pay to become a member. Playing out guarantees you’re getting your name out there and connecting with the very people who will ultimately book you in their homes.

2. Build Your Email List

Ok, so you’re playing out. What next? Well, take full advantage of the fact that these people are just sitting there listening to you for an hour, or two. Pass your newsletter around during your set. The following day, send an email welcoming new subscribers to the mailing list. Include a short paragraph at the end inviting people to consider hosting you for a house concert. You may not always get someone to bite, but you will get them thinking about it.

3. Just Ask.

Facebook! It’s where all your fans and friends are, right? Drop a note on your wall and let people know you’re currently in booking mode for your upcoming tour. Tell them you’re filling holes for a few dates on the road.

If you’re sticking close to home, make an announcement about playing fewer public shows and the fact that you’re trying to do more intimate acoustic events. If you’re not posting about house concerts on social media, you’re not using your most powerful marketing tool (second to your newsletter, of course).

4. Explain What A House Concert Is

This might sound unnecessary, but you need to explain what a house concert is. Some people have never been to one and have no idea what you’re even talking about when you say the words “house concert”. And people DO NOT like to step into unknown territory unless they know what they’re getting into.

Break it down and spell it out. One of the most frequented pages on my website is What Exactly Is A House Concert? (if you borrow any content from this link, please credit me with a link back to www.joyike.com). I stick a link in my welcome newsletter (for new subscribers) and in my monthly e-blast. I send it to anyone who tells me they’re considering hosting one. I send it to people who ask me questions that I’ve already answered on this page. This page comes in handy a lot.

5. Be Accommodating

People don’t think they can host a house concert unless they have a ’’reason’’ to. That’s not necessarily true, but for people who need a reason, let them know house concerts are great for birthday party gatherings, anniversary events, summer BBQs on the back deck, and even benefits concerts.

One of my all-time favorite concerts was put on by a group of 10 guys who wanted to give their wives a memorable and sentimental Mother’s Day. They cooked lunch for the women and hosted an afternoon concert in one of their homes.

Another memorable house concert was for a teacher in Washington D.C. who wanted to raise money for a program she was doing with her high school students. 50% of the funds raised went to her program. The other half went to me.

6. Talk About it From the Stage

“NEVER underestimate the power of suggestion.”

You don’t need to give a speech, but sharing a brief sentence or two (or three) about why you love house concerts will go a long way towards getting a few on your calendar. Having a page on your website to discuss the ins and outs is really helpful, but talking about it in person really helps fans to capture the essence of what a house show really is. NEVER underestimate the power of suggestion.

7. Create Postcards

Tag-team your on-stage pitch with a stack of postcards at your merch table. Spend $50, print a bunch of 4×6 handbills (front and back), and make them available.

This is the 3rd most effective thing I’ve done to generate house concerts. When your show attendee takes a handbill off the table, it usually means they want to sit on the idea and mull it over for a bit. They may even need to convince a fellow housemate or spouse of the idea. Handbills are a great visual reminder. They’re a tangible version of your speech from the stage. Here’s what mine looks like (front and back):

Joy Ike House Concert flyer

8. Ask Your Friendly Musician

Seriously, ask your friend. If you see your friend playing a house concert series, ask them to connect you with the host. This works best with established house concert series that are always scouting out new music to add to their lineup.

This does not necessarily work for a regular homeowner who only hosted your friend because they are his/her superfans. For them it was a one-off, not something they are looking to do monthly.

9. Recruit On-Site

People who are most likely to be house concert hosts are people who have been to one before. While you are at a house concert, take that opportunity to find your next host in that same city. It only takes a little effort. Example:

“If you’re having a good time tonight and would like to host something like this the next time I come through town, please let me know. I’ll be happy to take your contact and reach out next time I’m booking in this area.”

If you want to take it one step further, you can create an email sign-up page specifically for people who want to be contacted about hosting.

10. Social Media

Last but not least, post, post post! Snap and post a photo of the Welcome sign at the front door – the one the host’s 4-year old made for your show. Or post a shot of the potluck spread before the show…or a photo of the awesome Victorian house you’re playing in. Or post a photo someone took from the audience perspective.

Again, don’t overdo it, but when you post about your host concerts, you begin to create an association between your name and the house concert concept. It’s called branding. And these posts will serve as tiny reminders to your social media followers – reminders that they can host you too. Here are some cool example posts I found on Instagram. I searched the #houseconcert hashtag.

via @eugenioinviadigioia

via @allysonreynoldsart

via @jdeicher

via @widadmusicusa

The moral of the story is that house concerts are literally everywhere. And your fans really do want to host you if you’re willing to take the time to educate them, be accessible, and show them how much fun a house concert can be.

Good luck!

How to Reach Music Industry Influencers the Right Way

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post by Cortney Harding (Director of Media Relations for Muzooka) and originally appeared on the Bandzoogle Blog. Remember – if you’re looking to build a great artist website, Bandzoogle is your first stop!]

We’ve all seen the old cliche — a plucky, struggling artist takes the stage at a small club, while a record exec who just happens to be there skulks in the back. By the end of the set, the exec is so blown away that he or she races after the artist, promising them fame and fortune. Six months later, they share a laugh while hoisting a gold record.

If only it were so easy. In today’s ultra-crowded and competitive marketplace, artists should use every tool they have to reach out to the influencers who can help their careers. Unfortunately, many go about it in the wrong way, coming across as naive and tone-deaf. Here are a few pointers on how to get your music in front of the right people — without getting ripped off.

  1. Be smart about what you pay for. There are plenty of sites promising big things for just a little money — and yet those big things rarely materialize. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pay for someone’s time if it provides value, but that you should do your homework  before entering your credit card number. If a site promises that someone will listen to your demo, make sure check the play count — at least one company that made this promise got busted for taking cash without delivering spins. And be aware of high-priced events and conferences promising big names; the famous folks will generally show up for their panel, say a few boilerplate things, and bail. I’ve moderated several of these, and in one case had to play the bodyguard to a pregnant exec who was racing out and almost got trampled. Which leads me to…

  2. Don’t be a creep. Any industry person with a tiny bit of experience can smell desperation. Don’t shove your demos at people. Don’t hit people up on Twitter. If you’re going to hit people up to Twitter to write about you for a magazine, look at the masthead and make sure those people are still there. Don’t spam. Don’t send random files and huge attachments. DO use official platforms, like (shameless plug) the Muzooka Partner Platform to submit content.

  3. Start at the bottom of the totem pole. Jimmy Iovine isn’t going to come to your show. But spend some time surfing LinkedIn and search for interns at labels you’re interested in, then email them (get the free Rapportive plug-in for Gmail and Chrome to help figure out email addresses) and put them on the guest list. Most college kids aren’t going to say no to a night of free music and free drinks, and they’ll talk you up to the bosses.

Slogging through gigs in empty rooms can be tough, and it can feel like things will never get better. But as long as you keep your wits and basic manners about you, connecting with the people who can make you a star can be remarkably easy.

SEO for Musicians: 3 Tips To Optimize Your Website Content

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Melanie Kealey and was originally featured on the Bandzoogle Blog. If you’re looking to increase your online presence, Bandzoogle is THE place to go to build your artist website!]

Making your website rank well in search engines can seem like a daunting task. Now more than ever, people look to Google to find out information, and it’s important for your music website to work in search engines.

Not sure where to begin? Even starting with a few small things can help with the search engine optimization (also called SEO) for your website. Let’s look at a few quick ways to update the text on your website to help it rank better in search results!

Content Update 1: Page title

Writing a descriptive page title tells Google what your website’s pages are about, and improves the chances of matching a search query.

Let’s look at Bandzoogle members Gladstone Ave, a new band just starting out. They have a generic band name and no custom Page title yet.

Changing their page title from the default “Gladstone Ave – Home” to “Gladstone Ave – Acoustic-folk duo in Toronto” gives a bit more information about them right off the bat. It makes the page more likely to return in search results that include “acoustic-folk” and “Toronto,” and a user is more likely to click on it because they know what they are clicking on (that IS the band website I was looking for!)

Band website in Google

To do this with your Bandzoogle music website, click the Pages tab and choose Edit Title and Settings. Look down the page to the ‘Meta tags for this page’ area, and click Custom.

This will open up a Page Title field and that’s where you’ll write out your text. Try to keep it under 55 characters so that it will show up in Google without being cut off.

Content update 2: Page Description

Similarly in the Edit Title and Settings area, you’ll see a spot to add a custom meta description. This tells the search engine what that specific page is about in more detail, and helps match the page to search results.

You can set a page description in your Pages tab, again by clicking Edit Title and Settings, then looking for Meta tags for this page: custom: Page Description.

By default this is set to ‘Automatically generated from your page content’ which can work well. But it’s nice to have a bit more control, especially for your pages that don’t have much text, or if the text that you do have is not very descriptive or keyword friendly.

For your Home page, describe your band in detail. For your Music page, you’ll talk more about your sound or your latest CD. With your Events page’s description, you might mention that you play at a certain venue regularly, or an important upcoming show. Write these details in paragraph form, using around 155 characters.

SEO music website page description

Another reason to add a great page description? Social sharing sites like Facebook tend to use a page’s description when that page is shared.

Content update 3: Homepage text

Remember, Google is a machine, not a human, and can only match what people type into the search engine to your website if you provide the words. So adding a short paragraph to your Homepage that includes words that describe yourself and your music (called keywords) will help your website come up more easily in search.

To do this, write your bio and make sure to include your band name, your genre, your location – things that you think people would type into Google to find you – and put it right on your Homepage (need help writing this? Here are a few tips on creating a perfect pitch).

Search engines are also very smart, using complex algorithms to determine what is relevant on your pages, and can penalize you for stuffing many keywords that make no sense in context onto your page. So keep it simple, relevant, and human-readable.

Updates complete? Submit to Google!

Once you’ve done these updates, you can re-submit your website for Google to crawl here: Submit Url to Google

I hope that these tips give you a bit of insight into how to make your website more search engine friendly! Have fun adding or updating your page title, page description, and homepage text.

The 8 Things That Should Be In Every Band's Digital Press Kit

[Editor’s Note: This blog was written by Dave Cool, Director of Artist Relations at Bandzoogle, and originally appeared on the Bandzoogle Blog. Check out Bandzoogle to learn more about how you can build a truly unique website for your music & brand!]

There are many different kinds of people that will be visiting your website, but likely for different reasons. These include your current fans, potential new fans, as well as media, bloggers, bookers, and other industry folks.

For example, your fans might go to your website to read your latest blog post or download your latest song. But with media and industry, they’re probably visiting your site to find things like your official bio, or some promo photos.

To make it easy for media and industry to find the information they need (and quickly), the best thing to do is create a Digital Press Kit section on your website.

What should you include in it? Here are 8 things that should be in every musician’s digital press kit:

1. Bio

The first element to have is your most current bio. Bookers and festivals often have different needs and word limits for bios, so it would also be a good idea to include a few different versions, including an elevator pitch, a short bio (1 paragraph), a medium bio (a few paragraphs) and a long bio (4+ paragraphs).

2. Photos/images

The next element to include in your digital press kit is a section with downloadable (professional) photos. Have a few different official photos, with vertical and horizontal options, as well as black & white versions available. Make sure some of them are hi-resolution in case the media person or festival programmer needs to use the image for print. You can also include the image for your most recent album cover, which can be especially helpful for reviewers.

3. Music

You’ll of course need to have your music available to listen to, including a few tracks available to download. If a media person wants to get a copy of your full album or EP for review, just put clear information on who they can contact to get a copy.

4. Video

Many blogs and media sites love to embed videos of the artists they’re covering, which helps make the article more visual and engaging. Embed a few of your best videos in your digital press kit to make it easy to find a quality video that best represents your band.

5. Press articles/reviews

It wouldn’t be a press kit without some press, so post links to a few of your best reviews and interviews. Don’t assume that people will click on each article and read them in full. Pull the best quote from each review and include it underneath the link. You can also spice up this part of your digital press kit visually by including the logos of the media source next to each article/review.

6. Notable achievements

If you’ve been nominated for any awards, charted on radio, performed at noteworthy festivals or conferences, you should definitely include this information. Anything that can help to give positive context to your music and career should be in your digital press kit.

7. Contact info

Although you should of course have a “Contact” section on your website, you should also have detailed contact information in your digital press kit to have everything in one place. Include an email address as well as a phone number where a media person or booker can reach you if they need to speak to you in a hurry, they’re often working on tight deadlines.

8. Social media

And finally, include your social links on the page so that if the media person or booker wants to quickly check out your social media presence, they have all the links right there. You don’t have to overdo it, simply list the social media networks that you are most active on.