Homesong is based on a donation based model for payment. This is intentional for a couple of reasons. It means that anyone can organise a Homesong gig in their house without worrying about any business and legal issues. At it’s heart a Homesong gig is an informal get together at which you agree to play, and at which the folk there, either out of the kindness of their hearts, or because you were figgin’ awesome, or because a worker is worth their reward, offers you random amounts of money for your efforts.
So there is the rub. From an artists point of view, a Homesong gig has risk, uncertainty and no guarantees. There are ticketed home gigs out there, but at a Homesong gig it will always be, to an extent, an act of faith. You won’t know how many people will come and you won’t know how much cash they will give you. This is why I compare it to indoor busking.
That’s the downside. Here’s the good news. Firstly the audience, when you are right there in front of them, are usually generous, more often than not. It is so much easier to connect with an audience that are only feet away and who are really listening to you. Secondly, there is an expectation from the audience that they will be giving money to the performer. The host will have made it clear that you will be paid by donation, and will usually suggest an amount. You could suggest an amount yourself in the lead up to the event. You can also sell CD’s and other merchandise while you’re there.
How much can you earn? I have seen artists out there who would ask for and get £20 or £30 per attendee for a home gig. That’s perhaps why a lot of the ones already out there are called home concerts. If you and your guitar, with no overheads, can achieve that amount at a gig with 20-30 people on a regular basis then you don’t really need any help. At a guesstimate our artists have probably earned an average of £100 a gig, excluding CD sales. My aim, as I’ve made clear, is to play a part in getting a lot of these gigs going at a truly grass roots level. I don’t want it to be a middle class, exclusive thing. And I want to aim them at talented artists who haven’t got established and are struggling to find an audience for original music.
The bottom line is that hosts will know their audience and their locality and artists can negotiate. But we are still talking about an element of uncertainty. I know, as an artist focussed on making original music, how difficult it is to earn anything, unless you focus on marketing above everything else. Many of us would prefer to focus on making great music. A growing network of Homesong gigs offers a potentially better opportunity for earning money than record sales, pub gigs, or any other avenue. Even for mainstream artists golden geese are very rare.
Back in the day most performing artists lived a hand to mouth existence. It’s kind of like that now, and there is nothing wrong with combining making music with earning a supplementary living from a regular job. But I do think Homesong can offer a way forward in making music a genuine wage earner for more artists.