House concerts open doors of relationship, community
Singer-songwriter and author Andrew Peterson understands the challenges emerging artists face. Back when he was a freelance artist, booking gigs seemed to be the hardest part of his job.
“Once you’ve written the songs and recorded the album, the obvious next step is to play gigs,” Peterson said. “Connecting with listeners in a live setting is where the rubber meets the road, but finding gigs can feel like a lonely highway.”
Almost four years ago, Peterson wondered, “What if there was a platform that worked with the ease and simplicity of Airbnb, to connect singer-songwriters with hosts of voluntary concert?”
Peterson, who founded The bunny’s room in 2008 to foster the creative Christian arts community, spoke to the developers about the idea and began drafting a plan for how it might work. The project lay on the back burner for a while, but later, at a Rabbit Room event, Peterson discussed the idea with consultant and business advisor Dowell Stackpole, who asked if he had considered a platform. -shape to animate concerts at home.
Stackpole invited singer-songwriter and web developer Zack Smith into the project, and slowly Host & Artist began to take shape.
It supports artists and encourages musical creation, helping to connect with audiences and allowing them to be part of the artist’s success. It encourages meaningful moments, fosters relationships, and a sense of community through which gospel conversations can grow organically.
According to Peterson, house concerts create a meaningful and easy experience for hosts, performers and audiences. Anyone who has a living room has a concert hall, he said.
“A lot of us live in communities that aren’t really communities,” Peterson lamented. “In America, subdivisions seem tailor-made to prevent connection with each other. We come home from work, turn on the television and rarely interact with our neighbors.
“But a house concert gives us an excuse not only to support the arts, but also to invite our neighbors to something unique and beautiful. For me, it’s a step in the right direction,” Peterson said, “regardless of what the performer or the host believes. It opens the door to relationship, that’s where the gospel comes alive.
Singer-songwriters, folk, bluegrass and classical artists are featured on the platform, Smith said. And while many are Christians, it’s not just limited to Christian artists; all genders are welcome.
The Hedgerow Folk, an Opelika-based indie-folk cult trio, is one of many host artists who can book through the platform. Also available are singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis from Mentone and folksinger Wilder Adkins from Birmingham.
“I’m grateful to know a small army of singer-songwriters, most of whom are Christians working in this middle space, Rabbit Room champions: artists who do good work, but for some reason they don’t fit in the typical Christian music world, or in the typical mainstream world either,” Peterson said. “I’m thinking of people like Eric Peters, Skye Peterson, Jess Ray, Taylor Leonhardt.
“Anyone with a guitar and a handful of songs can do a house gig.”
Artists can join the platform through a user-friendly interface where they create a profile that features their music and biographical information. The animators get to know the artists, listen to excerpts of their music and invite them to perform.
Potential hosts choose audience size based on the layout of the house and are guided by a simple preparation method, Peterson said. The hosts make a financial offer to the artist and if the offer is accepted, they make the payment directly through the website.
As Host & Artist grows, the group hopes to implement new features such as searchable shows based on location, ways for artists to book tours, and video tutorials to guide hosts through throughout the process.
The general idea, Peterson said, is to help people realize that every living room or backyard in America is a potential concert hall. Host & Artist offers the potential for millions of beautiful experiences and provides opportunities for artists, hosts and music fans around the world, he added.
“We seek to join the art of hospitality to the art of music by connecting people who love home gigs,” added Zack Smith. “It’s wonderful what can happen to human flourishing when hosts and performers collaborate with each other.”
To find out more visit hostandartist.com.