Music Entrepreneur Launches Concerts In The Workplace

Research shows that taking a break at work improves focus and boosts productivity. Combine that break with music and the benefits are even better. Music is therapeutic, it energizes and it's inspirational for mind, body and soul, says Fran Snyder, a St. Petersburg singer, songwriter and music entrepreneur.

Local companies will have the chance to bring this innovative "wellness benefit'' to their workforce with Snyder's new venture, Office Concerts.

"The idea is to bring a world-class musician to the office for a short, 35-minute performance,'' says Snyder. "It's a mid-afternoon break that can recharge everyone. It could be considered an employee wellness benefit or even a client appreciation event.''

Originally from Canada, Snyder grew up in Tampa Bay and got a degree in business from the University of South Florida. But his first love was music. He spent the last decade or so recording music and touring the country playing at clubs, restaurants and small concert halls, as well as fans' living rooms in small "house concerts.'' 

In 2006 he launched Concerts In Your Home, as an online forum to promote this idea and bring together musicians and fans who either want to attend or host a house concert. 

How does it work? "Typically, the host invites friends and neighbors, and everyone chips in $15 or $20 for the artist,'' says Snyder. "A large house is not necessary; some concerts have as few as 10 or 15 people, some 35.'' In addition, many hosts provide food and an extra bedroom for the artist to stay overnight.

It's an idea that's gone viral. Today there are about 2,000 house concerts worldwide and more than 300 musicians who participate in this type of event, says Snyder.

"House concerts are becoming a vital piece of the touring industry for independent musicians,'' says Snyder. "This is about creating a listening room environment where artists can paid to do what they love. Audiences appreciate the close access to the performer and the performer enjoys the immediate, rich and personal feedback they get. There's nothing like having people coming up to us during the break and telling us how much a song or a phrase means to them.''

Music For The Soul

Three years ago, Snyder took the idea of house concerts to the next level with Florida Living Room Festival, a statewide celebration of house concerts with performances scheduled during the first week of April, culminating with a showcase finale at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. 

A resident of the Old Northeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg, Gaeylnn Thurman was a first-time host during last year's Florida Listening Festival and enjoyed it so much she's already signed up for this year’s event. "I didn't really know what to expect last year, but it was the most wonderful, intimate setting,'' says Thurman. "We guaranteed a certain amount of money to the artist and more than met that commitment.''

Leigh Koritke lives in Madeira Beach and will also host a house concert for the second time at this year's Listening Festival. "It was an amazing experience and the artist was exceptional,'' says Koritke. "We invited friends and had the artist spend the night at our house. It kind of makes you feel like the coolest kid on the block. They're more like performances than parties with people really paying attention.''

For this year's festival, Snyder hopes to book 50 house concerts. So far 38 are scheduled in cities ranging from Daytona, Jacksonville, Gainesville and the Panhandle to Fort Myers and Tampa Bay.

This year's festival will also be the official kick-off of Office Concerts, bringing music to the workplace for "the most fun coffee break your employees or clients could have,'' says Snyder.  Similar to the house concerts, he hopes to book 50 Office Concerts.

Appreciative Crowds

The cost of a workplace performance ranges from $450 to $1,500 and is considered part of the Listening Festival sponsorship package. Proceeds will benefit the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. There will also be free performances at All Children's Hospital, Creative Clay, Trinity Cafe in Tampa, and other community organizations.

The St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce signed on early has already hosted the area's first office concert for an appreciative crowd, says Snyder. On February 14, a second "demonstration'' event took place at the St. Petersburg Greenhouse, with Shaun Hopper, an acoustic finger-style guitarist, performing for about 30 people. 

PSCU, a financial services provider for credit unions, and Eagle Datagistics, a computer-consulting firm, have also made a commitment to be sponsors, says Snyder. Both companies are doing something a little different.

"PSCU bought three concerts, one for each branch of the company, which has locations in St. Petersburg, Detroit and Phoenix,'' says Snyder. "We've already done the concert in Phoenix. We were there at the end of February.''

Eagle Datagistics also purchased three -- one for their staff, one as a gift for a company they work with and one they're giving to a charity they support, says Snyder.

Janan Talafer is a freelance writer in St. Petersburg, FL, who shares a home office with her dog Bear and two cats Milo and Nigel. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.

Read more articles by Janan Talafer.

Janan Talafer enjoys writing for a diverse group of clients, including print and online publications, nonprofit organizations and public relations agencies. One of the highlights of her writing career was flying with the 91st Air Refueling Squadron out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa FL for a feature about this elite military team. A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University (OH), Janan’s early career was in health care marketing and public relations for hospitals in Connecticut and Tampa Bay. She is an avid gardener, loves East Coast swing dance and enjoys touring around St. Petersburg on the back of her husband’s scooter.
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