Singer-songwriter and author Andrew Peterson understands the challenges emerging artists face. Back when he was an independent artist, booking concerts seemed to be the single most difficult part of his job.
“Once you’ve written the songs and recorded the album, the next obvious step is playing concerts,” Peterson said. “Connecting with listeners in a live setting is where the rubber meets the road, but finding gigs can feel like a lonely highway.”
Nearly four years ago, Peterson asked himself, “What if there was a platform that functioned with the ease and simplicity of Airbnb to connect singer-songwriters with willing house concert hosts?”
Peterson, who founded the Rabbit Room in 2008 to foster the Christian arts creative community, talked to developers about the idea and began drafting a plan for how it might work. The project landed on the back burner for a while, but later at a Rabbit Room event, Peterson discussed the idea with consultant and business adviser Dowell Stackpole, who asked if he had considered a platform to facilitate house concerts.
Stackpole invited singer-songwriter and web developer Zack Smith into the project, and slowly Host & Artist began to take shape.
The platform supports artists and encourages the creation of music, helping them with the audience and allowing the audience to become part of the artist’s success. It encourages meaningful moments, fostering relationships and a sense of community through which gospel conversations can develop organically.
House concerts create a meaningful and easy experience for hosts, artists and the audience, Peterson said. Anyone with a living room has a music venue, he noted.
“So many of us live in communities that aren’t really communities,” he lamented. “In America, subdivisions seem custom made to inhibit connection with each other. We come home from work, turn on the television and seldom interact with our neighbors.
“But a house concert gives us an excuse not just to support the arts, but to invite our neighbors over for something unique and beautiful. That to me is a step in a good direction,” Peterson said, “no matter what the artist or the host believes. It opens the door to relationship, which is where the gospel comes alive.”
Singer-songwriters and folk, bluegrass and classical artists have a presence on the platform, Smith said. And while many are Christians, it isn’t limited to Christian artists. All genres are welcome to join.
The Hedgerow Folk, an indie-folk worship trio based in Opelika, Alabama, is one of the many artists hosts can book through the platform. Singer-songwriter Pierce Pettis of Mentone and folk singer Wilder Adkins from Birmingham also are available.
“I’m grateful to know a small army of singer-songwriters, most of whom are Christians working in that middle space the Rabbit Room champions — artists who are doing good work, but for whatever reason don’t fit into the typical Christian music world or into the typical mainstream world either,” Peterson said. “I’m thinking of people like Eric Peters, Skye Peterson, Jess Ray and Taylor Leonhardt.
“Anyone with a guitar and a handful of songs can do a house concert.”
Artists can join the platform through a user-friendly interface where they create a profile that features their music and biographical information. Hosts get to know the artists, listen to samples of their music and invite them to do a show.
Potential hosts choose the audience size depending on the home setup and are guided by a simple method of preparation, Peterson said. Hosts make a financial offer to the artist. If the offer is accepted, the host pays directly through the website.
As Host & Artist grows, the group hopes to implement new features like searchable shows based on location, ways for artists to book tours and video tutorials to walk hosts through the process.
The overall idea, Peterson said, is to help people realize that every living room or backyard in America is a potential concert venue.
Host & Artist offers the potential for millions of beautiful experiences and provides opportunities for artists, hosts and fans of music everywhere, he added.
“We seek to join the art of hospitality with the art of music by connecting people who enjoy house concerts,” Zack Smith added. “It’s wonderful what can happen for human flourishing when hosts and artists collaborate with each other.”
To learn more visit hostandartist.com.