Des Moines Startup Helps People Host Concerts in Home

DES MOINES, Iowa –We typically go to a bar, coffee shop, or an arena for live music, but a new Des Moines based startup is making it easier to host concerts in your home.

Playing music is a passion of Chad Elliott's. He said, "I play kind of a mix. So, it's Americana, so it's has a little blues, a little country, little folk. Mostly acoustic driven."

After living in music cities around the country, he moved back to Iowa. He writes and records songs in his Lamoni home. Now, he has a new way to book performances. "This gives us a whole new network to kind of work off," he said.

He's one of forty musicians using HomeDitty, which is a web based platform where anyone can sign up to host a private concert in their home. Founder Katie Byers said, "It's really no different than throwing a Tupperware party in the sense that you invite your friends, it's very communal."

Byers started HomeDitty after hosting her own concert series in her Des Moines home. “House concerts, traditionally, they've been around for hundreds of years. Strolling minstrels, that's how they made their living, they went from home to home performing live music, they'd pass their hat to collect money. So, the concept has been around for a long time. I don't think, definitely not in Iowa, but it never seemed to reach the level of mainstream culture, and that's what I'm trying to do."

Here's how it works: hosts sign up online for free. They find a musician they'd like to book. Home Ditty sends electronic invites to friends and handles the RSVP's and collects the money. Artists will typically perform two forty-five minute sets for about $20 per person, depending on the size of the crowd.

Byers said, "A lot of musicians when they're planning their tour, they're looking for house concert hosts and so they're looking for ways to fill in the gaps between their venue shows."

Home Ditty launched in February. So far, 280 hosts have signed up in 27 states. Seventy people have hosted home concerts, allowing musicians another outlet to share their craft.

Elliott said, "Having a couple dozen people actually listening to your stories, engaging or laughing at your jokes, it just outweighs any kind of big venue."

Byers will share her startup success story Friday at the Women's Business Center First Friday event. It starts at 11:30 at the Iowa Center for Economic Success.

You can learn more about HomeDitty or sign up to be a host on HomeDitty’s website.