Invitation to a house concert: capacity and revenue management

In the rock and pop music industry, there are so-called “concert promoters” who spend their time getting people to go to live concerts. They sometimes stand at street corners or at the end of a concert handing out flyers.

In the classical music world, however, it’s known as marketing and promotions. No one goes around getting people to go to concerts. The posters, event listings, newspaper mentions, etc. should be sufficient. 

How do you get people to go to a classical music concert in someone’s private home?

If you advertise it in the local newspaper or tourist office, you might get too many or too few people. How can you, as the host, the performer, or the producer of a house concert ensure that you break-even, i.e. cover your costs and not turn away and disappoint those guests you have no seats for?

Capacity and revenue management is critical for small, private concert productions for they can make or break the cash flow. Capacity management means getting enough people to fill a space. Revenue management means getting enough income to cover the costs or make a profit.

In my previous blog entry on risk management in concert productions I mentioned the risks and uncertainties of this business. For a small operation, it’s a real risk of getting too few or too many unless you’re willing to bear a loss or a standing-room only situation.

Maria Podznyakova, Russian harpist

For the next house concert on 13th December, I pushed for reservations by pre-payment. While this may give certainty and a peace of mind to capacity and revenue, it can also deter those who want the option of deciding late, even at the last minute.

The host, the musician, and I met last week (Thursday 26th November) and agreed on the theme: a Russian harpist introducing works of Russian composers in a setting reminiscent of 19th century Russian salon tea concerts.

We agreed to split up the tasks. The harpist would write the initial draft content in English using the template of the previous sold-out concert in our Monument House Concert Series. She would also get it translated into Dutch. I would edit the one page Word document and convert into a PDF with hyperlinks and load onto the website. The host, a well-travelled project manager who has previously worked in the hospitality sector, would then print and copy the flyers for distribution and posting.

Meanwhile, I’ve been actively e-mailing personal invitations to members of my Rotary Club, Webster University faculty and my former students, previous house concert guests, previous e-mail recipients who were unable to attend, my Facebook contacts, my relevant Linked-In Group members (i.e. those living in Utrecht with an interesting in such a local event), the University of Utrecht foreigner group, and other friends/contacts that I’d like to see again. [Compare this to the previous house concert.]

In terms of face-to-face invitations, I announced to my yoga class this morning:

Ik wil julllie graag allemaal uitnodigen voor een herenhuis concert van een Russische harpiste. Het is volgende week zondag 13 december middag vanaf 16:30 in Lombok.

[I would like to invite everyone to a house concert of a Russian harpist. It is next week Sunday 13th December afternoon from 16:30 in Lombok.]

I walked and knocked on the door of my Russian neighbour and asked if she would tell her Russian language students about this event.It then occurred to me that anyone interested in Russian culture would enjoy this concert, not just those interested in classical music in general. How would I find these people?

Already, about 10 people have prepaid and reserved for this concert on Sunday 13th December. We would like to get twice as many more but happy with just as many more.

For just 15 euros, you get an hour of a young Russian harpist playing the beautiful music of Russian composers, followed by mulled wine and other drinks, and an assortment of delicious cakes, breads, and pies… What more can you ask for a Sunday afternoon of cozy networking in a 100-year old house in the centre of the 2,000 year old city of Utrecht, Netherlands?

By the way, you also get to keep the custom-designed Monument House Glass Mug which holds your drinks (hot or cold).  They are worth 10 euros each. More of these mugs will be on sale at the concert on JP Coenstraat to support the concert series.

More details at


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Filed under audience, concert, economics, planning, venues

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