#134: Shannon Curtis – No Booker, No Bouncer, No Bartender

shannon curtisShannon Curtis is a touring musician and author. Her new book, “No Booker, No Bouncer, No Bartender: How I Made $25K On A 2-Month House Concert Tour (And How You Can Too)” explains how independent artists can make more money and build more meaningful fan relationships by performing in homes instead of traditional music venues. Shannon shares stories and advice from her experiences playing living rooms and tells us how she discovered house concerts in the first place.


  • Very informative episode! I’m curious if Shannon would tell us how big her email/fan list was when she started the house concert touring.

  • Hey. I’m only a little ways into the interview, but it sounds like it’s going to be a good one! One suggestion… Whenever I hear you guys interview someone like this, I am always curious about what their music sounds like. In fact, I would like to hear a sampling of their music (one song, perhaps) at the beginning of the interview. This would give me (and your listeners) more insight into the person you are interviewing. Please give it some thought… Thanks!

  • Ronnie

    House concerts are the best. it is so totally refreshing to play a show where the people are there to support your music. and not competing with idle chatter and coffee steamers.

  • Ronnie

    Good Point Kim, Sounds like Shannon had the benefit of a fan base she built with hard work in the clubs.

  • Ronnie

    Should have waited to comment till the end. 🙂

  • I really enjoyed Shannon’s take on this subject. I’ve been to a few house shows and they seem to work well for the artists that were there, but i play in a rock band, and while it can be great to strip it down now and then I don’t see how you couldn’t get tired of never being able to perform your songs the way they were meant too be heard. i listened to her track at the end and I just don’t see how you could pull that off well in someones living room

  • Great interview – I “accidentally’ discovered the house concert idea when I invited a few of my friends over to my house to listen to an artist I had signed to my music label, along with another friend of mine who also played great music. Everyone sat, rapt, listening so intently it really blew my mind. About 2 months after that I discovered there was something called “house concerts”. My only wish is that I had a big enough house to actually HAVE them…..

  • I found this episode inspiring and I think this is something I’m going to try in the very near future. I bought her book and haven’t read it yet, but I did jump to the page where it lists her gear. Seems very manageable.

  • kbreuner

    Dave – There is a track by Shannon at the end of the show, so check it out. The reason I don’t put their music at the beginning is because some people prefer I just jump right into the interview.

  • kbreuner

    Stevie – It’s summer, so a house concert can actually be in the backyard!

  • kbreuner

    Drew – I agree. That being said, I think as a rock band house concerts can still be a great way to bridge the gaps in a tour schedule to make the tour actually profitable.

  • kbreuner

    Kim – I emailed your question to Shannon, and this was her response:

    I’ve had this question before, and I think some people think, “Well, the only reason this worked for her is because she had XXX people already on her email list.” I understand that I may have had more names on my list than some people will when they’re starting out, but I’m absolutely convinced that if an artist starts with what they have — even if it’s a small following — that they could see dramatic growth very quickly with this model. And yes, working toward *growth* is going to be necessary for anyone who embarks on this. It doesn’t happen overnight, it’s not handed to you on a silver platter — just like anything else in this industry (or, you know, life in general – ha!) — but for me, the growth I’ve seen in my own following since adopting an all house concert touring approach has been exponential. I feel like no matter what level an artist is currently at, this is a way to work smarter and see bigger results more quickly.

    So, that said, I had about 3,000 contacts on my email list when I solicited my fan base for the first house concert tour in 2012, during which we did a total of 35 house concerts. This list was comprised of fans I had earned as I drove laps around the country playing coffeehouses and clubs in ’07 – ’11, as well as hold overs from a fan email list that was collected by my old band (which did a lot of college touring). The thing about the list at that time, however, was that I was only getting about 250-300 people to open and read my email newsletters on a good day at that time (I can track this with the email program I use), and I was losing just about as many emails from that list as I was adding at that time — old email addresses expiring, people changing email addresses, etc.

    Now, however, I’m seeing *way* more engagement with each of my email newsletters. My open rate is almost always at about 15%, which isn’t all that bad when you compare to statistics for emails of this sort. And I have *way* more fan engagement on social media than I every did before, which is SO valuable as I continue to build the story that everyone is following about my house concert touring. The more the story grows, the more new people who have been watching from the sidelines want to get involved and host shows. It’s like a positive reinforcement engine.

  • Awesome! Thanks, Kevin! And thanks Shannon for the extremely detailed reply. Much appreciated

  • I agree with Keviin. As Shannon said, there’s a long tradition of house concerts in the US for folk and Americana — but there’re DEFINITELY still houses that will host loud music. That said, I’ve found that it’s a good idea to be able to rock quietly. It is possible.

  • Patoirlove

    😉 good for you.. you are smart.. thinking outside the usual…;)

  • robert symons

    I think that there is a market for house concerts…it’s a more relaxed setting, allows for better networking unlike back yard receptions or BBQ’s where no one is really paying attention.
    I know of someone who sings and hosts jazz concerts in his home on some given Sunday afternoons with a pianist …a great concept and a way to build his fan base, so I applaud anyone who thinks out side the box and these days we as artists have get creative and make things happen for ourselves… a little imagination goes a long way.

  • robert symons

    Great story and best wishes…thank you for the inspiration.

  • Ya.. I hear you JJ. My band tours with a singer-songwriter and he gets fed up of the clubs we book where no one pays attention to him and we get fed up of having to play quietly at the shows he books. It can be fun for a bit and allows you to explore a different side of your songs and skills, but when your sound is meant to fill big spaces it gets old pretty fast.

    That being said, Shannon’s book should be arriving at my house by Monday lol

  • Lou Soileau

    Without the label, I guess have been giving house concerts for years in partnership with a Christian missionary. I am wanting to take our concerts up to another level and really appreciated Shannon’s explanations and the additional detail she included in her eBook. I particularly liked her comments about use of her PA system even in small indoor venues. Key seems to be the way Shannon handles the “donation” aspect of her concerts. We have found that “love offerings” usually end up being barely enough to pay for expenses and although we are not doing our work for the money, we still need to eat and to pay for gas. Shannon’s recommendation that the host actually remind the audience that this is a donation-based concert while they are holding the donation bucket in their hands seems very effective.Thank you, Shannon, for sharing your experiences so freely.

  • Aaron Stokes

    I LOVE the book! Thanks, Shannon!

  • Thanks Kevin & Shannon! VERY helpful information, most appreciated.