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Musicians on the move: Alumna launches tour housing database

Musicians on the move: Alumna launches tour housing database

Musicians on the move: Alumna launches tour housing database
August 17
17:43 2022

Beyond stage shows and live performances are less glamorous aspects of the music world. As a concert photographer, university alumna Hope Alvarez knows what happens behind the scenes.

She has witnessed bands have to share the night’s merch profits to afford a $5 pizza for dinner. Rather than staying in a hotel, they find themselves sleeping in a stranger’s home with only a yoga mat between them and the hard basement floor.

“There’s definitely this stereotype that musicians have everything — that money is not an issue but it is,” Hope said. “[Touring] is just a lot of ‘What do you want to sacrifice?’ and oftentimes, these bands sacrifice their housing.”

To help combat certain harsh conditions for touring musicians, Hope created Band and Breakfast House. The nonprofit is accepting applications to build its online database where volunteer hosts can offer their homes to traveling artists free of charge. Applicants can list details about their home such as the number of bathrooms and security systems, which will later be added to the tour host spreadsheet.

By providing tour housing options in a streamlined format, Hope aims to reduce the stress of touring and provide another affordable option for bands to get well-rested.

Hope formed the idea in 2016 when she originally planned for Band and Breakfast House to start as a physical housing building for bands. The project was postponed for six years until her twin, DFW-based musician Faith Alvarez, encouraged her to move forward with the web-based format.

The nonprofit’s nationwide online sign-up form was then officially launched on August 9.

“Now that it’s out there it feels very vulnerable but it also makes it real,” Hope said. “I was hesitant […] but I have no doubt that I can handle this. Also, all my friends are very involved in the music industry, so just knowing that I have them as a support system also helps me.”

Faith, an active member of the local music scene, said they are excited to see how musicians can benefit from Band and Breakfast House’s platform. They said this sense of familiarity and protection is necessary for musicians to feel fully secure while traveling.

“If someone has a floor and a couple of couches that’s enough to be able to provide a safe space for someone to sleep at night,” Faith said. “People that aren’t involved in music can be involved in the music industry in smaller ways like this and that’s very impactful.”

Hope said tour hosts don’t go through background checks because Band and Breakfast House is so new. However, this is something she would like to provide in the future to make housing options safer. In the meantime, she asks artists to be safe and utilize the host database at their own discretion. 

On top of opening homes up to musicians, Hope is also raising donations for tour care kits. After filling out a questionnaire, artists can receive essentials, such as toiletries, snacks and blankets, that they may not be able to afford.

“I think that’s what sets Band and Breakfast apart from [similar housing spreadsheets],” Hope said. “It’s just small things like that that make it a little bit more comfortable for the bands.”

Hope’s friend Nate Martinez, another local musician, said these necessities can mean everything to an artist struggling on tour. He said Band and Breakfast House has the potential to bring people together in a way that has never been done before.

“[Musicians] don’t have to do this but it’s a passion of ours,” Martinez said. “People can see that if we’re able to risk all of this to do it, it shows how strongly we feel about it. If we’re able to do that, maybe they can feel passionate about being a part of it in some capacity.”

Faith said this type of support, from those both in and outside of the music scene, can further unite others over music and the artists that create it.

“I feel like a lot of times within the music industry it can get kind of competitive, but I feel like this is obviously a different approach,” Faith said. “I really like being able to see the community come together and help each other out.”

While Hope aims to one day open a physical Band and Breakfast House, she plans to build the online foundation before thinking about other opportunities. She said Band and Breakfast House is a platform that brings the music scene together in an alternative way. In doing so, she believes it is possible for others to take their support for musicians a step beyond song streams and concert tickets.

“Sharing your music with the world is such a vulnerable experience,” Hope said. “[Band] and Breakfast is just like another way to offer that support and say, ‘Hey, I’m here and I’m listening.’ Really, there’s nothing in it for me […]  I just want to be able to help my friends in some way.”

Courtesy Hope Alvarez

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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