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I have also let the host introduce me to settle the audience.  Then I launch into a toe-tapper to get everyone moving together, letting them know that we're going to have fun.

Well, that's how I've done it up till now.  I love Shannon's and Ron's idea of starting acappella, and I will be writing something especially for that purpose.  

Thank you, Shannon for your great book and for all you do to promote house concerts and the musicians who do them!  (Thank's also to you, Jamie for all you do!)
Ah wow! I'm just seeing this, Arte, as we've been on tour all summer (still are!) and haven't had much time to check in here. Thank you for your kind words! I'm so happy you're here.
Hi All

I read through some of the replies but don't know if anyone may have mentioned this. Tom Jackson Productions out of Nashville is a huge resource in how to approach an audience. He speaks of "Dating" your audience or "Married" to your audience. The difference simply being an audience that comes in full knowlege of who you are and what you do and loves your stuff already is an audience you are married to. An audience that has not heard you before, which in the case of house concerts, will be one we are dating, and that makes sense.

When you are married to your audience you can do almost anything you want, and lyrics and story can rule more, but when you are dating an audience, helping them get to know you and pulling them into the show, there are some great understandings of what to look for in your songs, how to develop them for a live show, and how to create moments with and within each song. Special moments that grab your listeners and compel them along with you.

There is so much to this and a lot of depth to his approach but one thing that I will share here is his idea for how to design a set list for a "dating" show. Total of nine songs for a set/concert. This is usually about 45 minutes but as you learn to create moments with each song it easily becomes that one hour concert.

Typical set:

First two songs are introduction songs
You are not going to hit them over the head and freak them out, but you are also not going to be timid and creep them out with holding back too much. You are saying, "Hello, this is who I am and I'm glad to be with you" songs. You are introducing your music on a scale of one to five (five being high energy) probably at about a 3 1/2 first song, then a 4 for the second one, as a level of energy. (This can be relative to your style so you need to figure out what energy levels you'd rate your songs)

The third song
This one you want to be a GREAT song, one of your strongest ones compared to the first two, and at around a 3 level of energy, so a bit more about the song and lyrics here. (I say this but Tom emphasizes that the moments you create are more important than the numbers). You want to take them in a cool direction so that just about the time they think they are getting a handle on you, you throw them a pleasant curve an awesome song.

Fourth song
This song is meant to be a musical and different moment. This can come down to roughly a 2 level because the emphasis will be on the musical idea, though again, the moment is more important than the number level. Always! This means that the song takes them in a different direction than they've come with you so far, and you use something in the song, or create something to go with the song that is  a strong musical element beyond the song, perhaps a really interesting intro, or a vocal cool thing that is in your strengths, or something cool in the middle or end, but something more musical than song related that will grab them in a different way.

Fifth song
This one combines the idea of a Great song and a Musical Moment. It needs to be one of your best. (I know we think all our songs are great but perhaps as you have performed you have seen how your audience responds to the songs and some really stand out on connections). This is back to a 3.5ish level of energy and should be both a strong song and now create another great musical moment, preferably different from the last one. So, if your musical moment in the last one was vocal oriented, this time maybe it is a guitar or piano thing that is catchy. If these elements are not already in your song ( and often as songwriters we don't worry all the time about this), then you find something in the song and create a musical moment from an element already in it.

Sixth song
4.5 level of energy, and this one is a Big Fun Moment! This is where you get your audience involved in a more than casual way. You've built a relationship with them and to some degree they have learned to trust you now, definitely to a point where you can get them involved. (I have learned that my songs tend to allow this more often in my shows now, but if it's new this is the place to introduce it). This is where you get them singing, or find a cool different clap pattern or whatever it is that gets them highly involved with your song. FUN is key, and that means involvement. For me, I write some odd off the wall songs, and for some reason I use them here, but it can be a regular song of thought as well, but just high energy and something to involve them.

Seventh and Eighth songs
This is your intimate moment, bringing the song level all the way down to a 1 for both of these. Perhaps you have a thought to get across, or just hit on a deep subject, this is where you create that totally intimate space for them with you. Perhaps the first song presenting some serious issue or a personal thing, whatever, and the second one, still very low key of energy, but perhaps a gentle moment of comfort or something.

Nineth song
This is the end of a complete set and you want to wind it up into your highest energy of 5. It's a good time to get your creative juices going on how to start a high energy tune way down in energy instead and let the song build to a full 5.

No kick backs at all....
I shared this here, but reality is I just shared the very surface of what Tom teaches. he gets into a lot of depth on how to create moments, vids on how to interact with an audience. It's not about choreography or acting, but it is about learning how to approach audiences. He also deals with how to add songs to lengthen sets, or do shorter sets, or, well, so many things.

I do NOT work for Tom. Cool

I have just fallen in love with his method and have seen first hand how it has helped me communicate in huge ways with my audiences, whether on a huge stage or in a living room. He has a web site under his name of Tom Jackson Productions and he has a book if you are into books. He also has DVDs if that is your favorite way to go (which I recommend because he uses some of his audiences members as guinea pigs to demonstrate what can take place when rehearsing how to create moments)

For now, his book is called "Tom Jackson's Live Music Method" All roads lead to the stage.

Okay, I talked too long probably, but I truly love this, and what Shannon is doing here and what is possible, and this can really help us think through how to connect with EVERY audience we are put in front of.

Thanks for listening

Jim! Thanks so much for taking the time to write this out. It's wonderful.

Beginning performers should absolutely take this to heart. The idea that you need to win each crowd over, and that this is intentional work that you can plan and practice for, is invaluable.

I would even take this one step further, and suggest that even if you're playing for an audience you're married to, you still need to approach the show like a date, and win them over all over again. Kind of like real married life. Smile

Thanks again. glad you're here.
jamie hill
shannon's husband & partner in crime
co-inventor of the house concert model & co-author of the book
which is why i reply so often on here
i produce, mix, & master records
you can hear my work at
Tacoma, WA, USA
Wow, thank you so much for this great advice, JDrew!
Thank you Jim,

As I read through all the comments above I had Question about the typical layout of a home concert and here I found the answers from you - Valuable Indeed - I am from South Africa and home concerts is not someone read about or know about. I think it is still new for most South Africans. To tap into the market is somewhat challenging but I am willing to take it on and challenge myself but the same time have fun as I love sharing my music with people out there. This is new for me and I do a lot of research at the moment - Shannon thank you for your amazing book, I am learning a lot and will apply all the tips and tricks.

Many Blessings


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