Many years ago, performing at a patron’s house was the best thing that could happen to a musician. The private concert would increase the prestige of the host, and would give the artist the chance to network among the upper echelon of society in the hopes of increasing their patronage. Years have past, times have changed, and these intimate performances have given way to massive concerts drawing an audience of thousands. To be noticed these days, a budding musician has to tour coffee shops or set up a YouTube channel and hope for the best before they get the chance to play on the big stage. But in the last few years, the Indian music scene has seen a shift towards smaller, private performances thanks to the home concert movement.
The Small Stage
In India, the movement began in Bangalore, before spreading to Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and other major cities throughout the country. As the name suggests, a home concert is a performance that takes place in a house, apartment, or another nearby private space such as a neighborhood clubhouse or lawn. The logistics of the event varies depending on organizer. It may be ticketed or first-come-first-serve, or even based on selective invitation. The profits, usually made through donations from the audience members, are either given entirely to the band or split between the band and organizer. Some of the main players include organizations such as Sofar Sounds, House Concert, and Beatmap House Party, all of whom operate across the country. Despite their differences in execution style, one thing remains the same — audiences are small, usually 50 people or less. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s this small audience that may make home concerts the modern musician’s ticket to success.
The Real Sound
One of the major upsides of house concerts, from a musician’s perspective, is the freedom to perform. Those who have been lucky enough in their careers to secure a coffee house or pub gig will know that there is very little scope to share their own musical compositions. The owners of these venues prefer more commercial music, particularly covers of popular songs. Home concerts are an alternative for those who strive to share their original sound. Performances organized by House Concert, for example, create a space that gives musicians the chance to experiment and test unreleased work on a receptive audience and get immediate feedback.
The Name Game
In a world where young bands are lost in a sea of musical talent, any chance to have people recognize your name is welcomed. Exposure is the lifeblood of emerging musicians, and until now, the best way to get some was to play at out of the way venues or hope that one of your videos went viral. Home concerts have changed the game. Musicians now play to a select audience. The Mumbai branch of Sofar, for example, provides tickets to only about 5% of the people who sign up for an event. In this scenario, the artist gets a chance to build a fanbase through face-to-face interaction with almost everyone who attends a concert. The comfortable atmosphere of the event is perfect for post-show chats that allow them to create personal connections with the audience — and gives them the chance to network as well.
The Complete Experience
The home concert is also changing the way fans experience music. Unlike full fledged concerts, where you become part of the faceless mob, or coffee shops and pubs, where the focus is on food, conversation, work — everything but the music — home concerts are both exclusive and focused. The event is organized to be all about the music. A Beatmap House Party for example, carries the vibe of an intimate gathering with friends rather than that of a live concert. There’s no cross-talk or heavy, pressing crowds to distract your from the performances. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the music — and maybe grab a drink with the artist after.
With the popularity of house concerts rapidly increasing, Indie bands have a new platform to gather and impress an audience. The movement brings music back to its beginnings, making it a more human experience. These concerts foster a level of one-on-one interaction that has been missing from the music scene in recent years, and are quickly becoming a way to launch fresh new talent into the spotlight.
Operating through their facebook pages, House Concert organizes privately hosted concerts featuring multiple acts. House Concert has its roots in Delhi, but their events are popular in the bangalore music scene as well. Even so, their concerts have an average audience of only 25-30 people. Their facebook only system means that you’re notified of upcoming events right on your newsfeed.
Sofar Sounds creates immersive experiences in private spaces — ranging from homes to retail shops. Each concert typically features three diverse artists and usually doesn’t have a headliner. Sofar Sounds operates in most major cities in India. They provide tickets on a lottery basis, creating a truly exclusive, intimate experience.
Beatmap House Parties
Beatmap is a digital platform that connects artists to alternative performing venues. Their House Parties were a foray into the home concert scene that really paid off. The event certainly lives up to its name, as Beatmap recreates the relaxed atmosphere of a get together with friends. Hosts and artists can sign up through the Beatmap portal, while hopeful attendees should keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming events.
Shivangi’s interests include video games, psychology, and everything in between. Certified night owl, official nerd, and purveyor of fun facts. Follow her on instagram (@stixer11) if you want to meet her dog.