Are house concerts profitable?

People ask me all the time if I make any money organising house concerts.

The answer is no.

Next question: why do you keep doing it?

Answer: to figure out how to make it profitable.

I don’t organise concerts because I love doing it. On the contrary, I do it for other reasons such as

  • to support musicians I like or curious about
  • to attract people to come so that I can get to know them better
  • to give something I have (a space, use of my grand piano)
  • to have an audience give attention to me when I speak about the music and the musicians or if/when I perform
  • to get more experience at producing concerts….. to eventually make it profitable.

If you were to ask if my costs are covered (i.e. all outgoing expenses), the answer is a resounding yes. I do breakeven. I don’t go into debt organising house concerts.

But that is not the meaning of profitable —- at least, not for me.

Steinway grand piano at Monument House Concert Series

Steinway grand piano at Monument House Concert Series

My definition of profitable is ample income to cover not only expenses but also time. So far, I have not been able to pay myself for the amount of time spent on making a concert happen. Neither am I able to pay those people that help me or collaborate with me. You could say it’s volunteer work. I have to give up practising, teaching, performing, or other activity that gets paid or leads to paid work.

There is a third definition of profitable in which the answer is also a resounding yes.

Profitable = the extra you get from a house concert which you didn’t have before

Some of these extras are

  • experience of collaborating with new people to make the concert happen
  • meeting new people (in the audience)
  • growing a network
  • publicity (a lot of attention is generated in the period leading up to the concert)
  • exposure to new music, composers, and musicians
  • developing better relationships
  • learning what to avoid and what to pursue next time
  • having quality conversations in a comfortable space

Is there a fourth definition of profitable?


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Filed under audience, concert, economics, research

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