On House Shows

The lights go down. An artist you’ve wanted to see since you first heard their Soundcloud channel 4 years ago steps onto the stage. As they step up to the microphone, you realize the three women behind you are still loudly talking about some date that one of them went on two nights ago and the spilled martini that ruined her entire week. The relentless clang of the cash register at the back bar is keeping rhythm for their continuing cacophony.

As you start to manage to tune these things out, you realize you’ve already missed part of your favorite song, you’re out of whiskey, and the people behind you are shoving to get closer to a musician they aren’t even listening to.

Sound familiar?

It was becoming all too familiar to me. But what was the solution? As someone who went to hundreds of shows a year, I realized even the best venues had bad nights, with bad crowds.

Then, in 2012, I saw a wonderful band from the Pacific Northwest, The Local Strangers, perform a show in (band member) Matt Hart’s mother’s home in Evanston, for 30 or 40 people who were beyond overjoyed to be there, part of something special.

That’s really when I decided to start Music Means Family.

I wanted to have the opportunity to welcome artists whose music I loved deeply to play for people who would appreciate it as much as I did, in a space where not only was that easy to do, it was encouraged. I wanted the opportunity to connect friends and family, old and new not only to wonderful music and musicians, but to each other.

So, what exactly is a house show?

It’s a concert, first and foremost. It’s in a house (or office, or art gallery, or super cool loft, etc.). It’s somewhere different, somewhere unique.

It’s small. Intimate. It’s a chance for musicians to share a space with the people who love (or will come to love) their music. There are no barriers, stages. Just friends, and music, and family.

It’s secret. No one is wandering in off the street. No one is coming to hang out at the bar while you try and listen to the music you came to hear. People RSVP online, get the address, bring a 6-pack, or a bottle, or a flask of their favorite thing to drink, and they chat with other people who are there to do the exact same thing.

Then the musician, or musicians, come out and play a bunch of songs. Maybe songs they don’t usually play live because they don’t work in a crowded club. Maybe a cover you’ve never heard them play. Maybe they play all the songs you’ve been dying to hear. In any case, they’re there with you.

Anything else I should know?

Yes, actually! Thanks for asking.

There’s another reason we love house shows. In 2015, a lot of people consume music by streaming it – on Spotify, Pandora, or Rdio. This doesn’t make artists a whole lot of money. It’s incredibly important to me that artists have a chance to make a real living playing music. That’s why at every Music Means Family show, 100% of the cost of the ticket goes to the artist. To paraphrase the fine folks at closeup.fm – we want to build a bigger musician middle class.


So, come to a show. Bring a friend. See what we’re all about. It would mean the world to me, and hopefully you’ll see what all the fuss is about. We love making new friends. See you soon!