The economics of producing house concerts


On a beautiful sunny day in the Netherlands, I notice that this blog is not being read. Most people are sitting outside enjoying the weather. I am stuck indoors trying to finish a paper called “House concerts for art music:
multiple stakeholders, audience development, and sustainability
” for presentation at the international cultural economics conference next week in Copenhagen.

I have interviewed several house concert producers in the Netherlands and the USA who were willing to participate in my short survey. The ones that did reply did so with great enthusiasm. I would have liked to conduct a more extensive survey or interview, for the results were surprising. [How to get funding for this research?]

I call this writing from the gut because I am pulling out everything I know and feel to be true about house concerts from the past ten years of attending, giving, and producing concerts set in private homes. In these past 10 years, I have searched for articles about this topic — plenty on the Americana singer/songwriter variety but quite negligible on the salon concerts of Fanny Mendelssohn, a person I wholly admire.

Why bother writing about the economics and raison d’etre of house concerts when no one is paying me to do so? When I’ve waited most of the year for such perfect lovely weather to embrace me?

Monument House Concert Series, Utrecht Netherlands

Monument House Concert Series, Utrecht Netherlands

Perhaps it’s my attempt to rationalise an irrational addiction to an expensive hobby.

House concerts are viral. Once you’ve been to one, you will go to another one. It changes your experience of live classical music. Once you’ve performed in one, you know what an attentive and appreciative audience can do for the level of your playing. Once you’ve hosted and produced a house concert, you feel connected with the universe.

House concerts can be extremely profitable. My mailing list grows with each concert. Audience development gets easier, i.e. concerts get sold out more quickly. Collaborators and sponsors compete for opportunity for attention. Entry prices keep climbing. Musicians queue for an opportunity to perform. Local and national governments recognise the powerful vehicle that house concerts serve to build and develop new communities. House concerts become the best kept secret of sticky networking.

As long as these ideas dwell in my imagination, as a recent article argue to be the most pleasurable activity, I will forever stay unconvinced in that Taoist state where a lump of clay has infinite potential (before it gets molded into anything useful). I have to write from my gut, that the transaction costs of producing a concert are so high that it only makes sense if economies of scale and scope are exploited.

I will have to change my assumptions, if I were to continue producing the Monument House Concert Series.

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Filed under articles, concert, economics

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