Tips in a band

Weldaar

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The crowd stays most of the night. Of course the later gigs get less people after 12:30. Most of our gigs are 8-11
 

MikeyTheCat

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Question: Is someone else getting those gigs?
If so how do they differ from your band.

Sometimes you just get undercut or someone brings in a crowd that does more drinking than dancing.
 

Weldaar

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Question: Is someone else getting those gigs?
If so how do they differ from your band.

Sometimes you just get undercut or someone brings in a crowd that does more drinking than dancing.
Same basic music. Could be friends, who knows. Like I said, we’ve played these venues several times, so I am baffled
 

OHIOSTEVE

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IMO a tip jar setting out is fine......a tip jar mentioned AT ALL is tacky. Watched a band once. After every song the bass player would pick up the tip jar and shake it at the audience. Tackiest thing I have ever seen.
 

Bobby Mahogany

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LOL Get good feedback from owners and crowd. Confused then. I mean we have played there many times over the last 7 months. Go figure.

Maybe having played there several times in the last 7 months is enough "variety" for them.
They might want to hear other bands.

Or maybe you talk just a little too loud in the microphone between songs.
Like you were writing in caps or something?

:dunno:
 

ErictheRed

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You might be over thinking things. It could be something unrelated to your band at all, maybe they have friends in another band, maybe they're booking less bands, who knows? You might want to just ask them, but do it tactfully. Ask them for feedback, not about the music this time, but about what you could do to improve their and their customers' experiences and you might get your answer.
 

SteveC

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Serious good feedback posted! Spot on.

What most bar bands do not understand that it is all about ROI. Of course you need to be competent. But, being fucking great doesn't always translate into more rings.

In fact, I remember going to see this dance band (to steal) and they were insanely good... so good, that the owner told me afterwards that he wasn't going to bring them back again because the people never left the dance floor to buy drinks. WTF? Right!

This "letter" has been referenced a million times and there have been many arguments for/against it. Agree or not, that's not the point. This is exactly how most owners think.

It's a bit long... Here's the link:
https://www.bosepro.community/g/portable/topic/open-letter-from-a-bar-owner-to-musicians

Or, read it here..



A bar, that is, an establishment that earns its revenue primarily from selling alcoholic beverages, measures its success by the ounce and the accounting is done everyday because we mostly live on the edge. So we spend our time trying to figure out how to sell more ounces. It’s not just how many people are in the house or how great the atmosphere is (that’s certainly important), but how many drinks, preferably premium, we sell in a day. That’s it.

Live music is important to most of us (if we have that kind of venue). But it is a significant expense and is only worthwhile if it produces more than it consumes, just like advertising and anything else we spend money on in order to sell more ounces. But so many of the bands that come through here have no clue what their job is. Your job is to sell booze. You’re not here for any other reason.

There are some truly awful bands that actually chase customers away. But there are also some bands I would call mediocre who do a fantastic job of selling my product. There are also some really good bands who rock the house but not the cash drawer. While I appreciate good music and would never have an interest listening to that mediocre band’s lame CD, they’re coming back next week.

Here’s why:

1. They play simple music people recognize. People don’t dance to brilliant guitar solos or heady changes, they dance to the hook lyrics of a simple chorus. (If you’ve ever wondered why pop is popular, that’s why). When the ladies want to dance, the guys show up and everybody drinks. Simple truth.

2. They don’t ask me for drinks, they ask my customers. This is a subtle art and if it’s done well, the band can more than pay for itself. Here’s a few obvious techniques: If someone offers to buy the band a round, you order shots of top-shelf. Even if you don’t drink it, ask for it anyway. If someone asks for a request, try to make a deal with them. If you buy (your date, your table, the band) a round, we’ll play your song. Some bands beg for tips, and that’s fine, but it’s not what I’m paying you for. (Try to play request anyway. At least you wont chase them off.) We had one front man hold up a mixed drink and make a wonderfully cheesy but impassioned pitch that you simply had to try this because it was, as he put it, “a glass of pure happiness”. It resulted in over a hundred bucks in the drawer in just a few minutes. Those guys are busy.

3. They may not be the best band in town but they look and act professional. I cringe when I see a supposedly professional band wearing frayed khaki shorts, flip flops, mildly offensive t-shirts and greasy baseball caps (the standard bro uniform). I don’t care if you’re bald, a baseball cap is unacceptable. Live music is a visual form of entertainment. If you dress well, even if it’s hipster, funky, weird or flamboyant, as long as you look like you care about your appearance, and show a little self respect, you’ll go over better with my customers. The good bands also respect their gig and the customers. They show up on time, they don’t make a racket while they setup (hint: keep your drummer quiet especially when the jukebox is on.), they choose their set list carefully, they pace their sets well and stay engaged with the audience (don’t stop playing if the dance floor is full), they don’t get hammered and and they don’t leave a mess. All this adds up to what we call retention. Customers don’t leave. You would be surprised how many customers leave because of the band. And it’s usually not because the band is awful, but because it’s too loud, it’s the wrong repertoire, it’s rude and dismissive, it’s not engaged and basically no fun for anyone else but themselves. And here’s a little tip: Your continued employment is directly dependent on my bartender’s opinion of you. That’s probably true for every single bar you play.

One last thing. It’s hard to find work. You might be surprised at how much competition you have. I get emails, voicemails, regular mail, fed-ex packages left for me, all with earnestly concocted press kits and demos and I ignore almost all of it. I get walk-ins who, if I’m there, I’ll give a few minutes to. Again, you’d be surprised how many show up in their bro-clothes, tell me how awesome they are, and hand me a business card with a URL to their reverb nation page or YouTube channel.

They probably go home and wonder why they don’t get a call, but I’m not going to visit your website or listen to your demo. You’ve got maybe 60 seconds to make your “elevator pitch” and just a few more minutes to make it stick. There is a sales technique I’m seeing that’s impressive, stands out and really works, but out of respect for the bands that figured it out, call it a trade secret.

Bottom line: A bar is a business. My bar is my business, my life, my success or failure. What I do in my business is entirely up to me because the risk is entirely mine. If I have a jam night, an open mic, solos, duos, bands, karaoke, or just a jukebox, that’s up to me and no one else. Whatever helps make the most revenue. I have great respect for working musicians and would rather not hire them at all than to short-change them.

The open mic and jams that seem to get so much criticism here are not about me getting free entertainment, they are about bringing in paying customers and keeping them here. People who play and sing, but not in a professional band, like to get out, get a little stage time, have some fun, bring their friends and I offer them the place to do it. And yes, these nights are pretty good for the bottom line. If having bands was better, I’d have bands every night. It’s just reality, man.
 

PapaSquash

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Several times in 7 months might be saturation.

But it could be anything. You could piss them off because somebody swears on stage and he doesn't like it, or he feels you're going back to the bar too often looking for freebies,or your crowd has a rep for tipping badly, or "guest list" abuse, or any non-music thing that you're oblivious to that rubs him the wrong way.

We have a new policy that I call "No Surprises." We over-communicate with the person at the venue who is our customer so that all the expectations are clear. On both sides.

PS - I agree with Steve's post , we're a dance band and we live by that. The girls wanna dance, the boys want the girls and the owner wants a hot sweaty mix that keeps 'em drinking.
 

NRBQ

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It's a bottom line thing, you make cash for the bar you'll be back, you don't you'll be gone. Simple as that.
 

Weldaar

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Serious good feedback posted! Spot on.

What most bar bands do not understand that it is all about ROI. Of course you need to be competent. But, being fucking great doesn't always translate into more rings.

In fact, I remember going to see this dance band (to steal) and they were insanely good... so good, that the owner told me afterwards that he wasn't going to bring them back again because the people never left the dance floor to buy drinks. WTF? Right!

This "letter" has been referenced a million times and there have been many arguments for/against it. Agree or not, that's not the point. This is exactly how most owners think.

It's a bit long... Here's the link:
https://www.bosepro.community/g/portable/topic/open-letter-from-a-bar-owner-to-musicians

Or, read it here..



A bar, that is, an establishment that earns its revenue primarily from selling alcoholic beverages, measures its success by the ounce and the accounting is done everyday because we mostly live on the edge. So we spend our time trying to figure out how to sell more ounces. It’s not just how many people are in the house or how great the atmosphere is (that’s certainly important), but how many drinks, preferably premium, we sell in a day. That’s it.

Live music is important to most of us (if we have that kind of venue). But it is a significant expense and is only worthwhile if it produces more than it consumes, just like advertising and anything else we spend money on in order to sell more ounces. But so many of the bands that come through here have no clue what their job is. Your job is to sell booze. You’re not here for any other reason.

There are some truly awful bands that actually chase customers away. But there are also some bands I would call mediocre who do a fantastic job of selling my product. There are also some really good bands who rock the house but not the cash drawer. While I appreciate good music and would never have an interest listening to that mediocre band’s lame CD, they’re coming back next week.

Here’s why:

1. They play simple music people recognize. People don’t dance to brilliant guitar solos or heady changes, they dance to the hook lyrics of a simple chorus. (If you’ve ever wondered why pop is popular, that’s why). When the ladies want to dance, the guys show up and everybody drinks. Simple truth.

2. They don’t ask me for drinks, they ask my customers. This is a subtle art and if it’s done well, the band can more than pay for itself. Here’s a few obvious techniques: If someone offers to buy the band a round, you order shots of top-shelf. Even if you don’t drink it, ask for it anyway. If someone asks for a request, try to make a deal with them. If you buy (your date, your table, the band) a round, we’ll play your song. Some bands beg for tips, and that’s fine, but it’s not what I’m paying you for. (Try to play request anyway. At least you wont chase them off.) We had one front man hold up a mixed drink and make a wonderfully cheesy but impassioned pitch that you simply had to try this because it was, as he put it, “a glass of pure happiness”. It resulted in over a hundred bucks in the drawer in just a few minutes. Those guys are busy.

3. They may not be the best band in town but they look and act professional. I cringe when I see a supposedly professional band wearing frayed khaki shorts, flip flops, mildly offensive t-shirts and greasy baseball caps (the standard bro uniform). I don’t care if you’re bald, a baseball cap is unacceptable. Live music is a visual form of entertainment. If you dress well, even if it’s hipster, funky, weird or flamboyant, as long as you look like you care about your appearance, and show a little self respect, you’ll go over better with my customers. The good bands also respect their gig and the customers. They show up on time, they don’t make a racket while they setup (hint: keep your drummer quiet especially when the jukebox is on.), they choose their set list carefully, they pace their sets well and stay engaged with the audience (don’t stop playing if the dance floor is full), they don’t get hammered and and they don’t leave a mess. All this adds up to what we call retention. Customers don’t leave. You would be surprised how many customers leave because of the band. And it’s usually not because the band is awful, but because it’s too loud, it’s the wrong repertoire, it’s rude and dismissive, it’s not engaged and basically no fun for anyone else but themselves. And here’s a little tip: Your continued employment is directly dependent on my bartender’s opinion of you. That’s probably true for every single bar you play.

One last thing. It’s hard to find work. You might be surprised at how much competition you have. I get emails, voicemails, regular mail, fed-ex packages left for me, all with earnestly concocted press kits and demos and I ignore almost all of it. I get walk-ins who, if I’m there, I’ll give a few minutes to. Again, you’d be surprised how many show up in their bro-clothes, tell me how awesome they are, and hand me a business card with a URL to their reverb nation page or YouTube channel.

They probably go home and wonder why they don’t get a call, but I’m not going to visit your website or listen to your demo. You’ve got maybe 60 seconds to make your “elevator pitch” and just a few more minutes to make it stick. There is a sales technique I’m seeing that’s impressive, stands out and really works, but out of respect for the bands that figured it out, call it a trade secret.

Bottom line: A bar is a business. My bar is my business, my life, my success or failure. What I do in my business is entirely up to me because the risk is entirely mine. If I have a jam night, an open mic, solos, duos, bands, karaoke, or just a jukebox, that’s up to me and no one else. Whatever helps make the most revenue. I have great respect for working musicians and would rather not hire them at all than to short-change them.

The open mic and jams that seem to get so much criticism here are not about me getting free entertainment, they are about bringing in paying customers and keeping them here. People who play and sing, but not in a professional band, like to get out, get a little stage time, have some fun, bring their friends and I offer them the place to do it. And yes, these nights are pretty good for the bottom line. If having bands was better, I’d have bands every night. It’s just reality, man.
This kind of sums up my band. Good but not overly flashy. Play songs everyone knows and seems to like.
 

MikeyTheCat

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At this point OP the ball is in your court to do the leg work and find out why you aren’t first call.
If the bar owners remember you and you’ve had a good working relationship with them before, they’ll likely tell you what’s up.
A band I was in had a really “successful” gig on the opening slot where our fans and friends really turned out and helped pack the place. We sounded great, the reaction was great but the owner didn’t see an up tick in sales (our sound man found out from the house sound man) Our set was a good concert set and a crappy beverage sales set.
 
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jc2000

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That "worship band workshop" video has a lot of good advice in it..... :yesway:
 

MikeyTheCat

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That "worship band workshop" video has a lot of good advice in it..... :yesway:

There is.

Sometimes a mistake (IMO) that a band or performer will make is to have a set where every song has those dynamics. Something I learned from black church bands is they will keep the dynamic of a song or songs steady and change the dynamics across their set/service. So they may freight train for several songs and then drop back during the sermon and prayer time, and then ramp it back up again at the end.
You really need to not just look at the songs you’re playing but how they work within your show for that venue.
 

Chango Malo

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This kind of sums up my band. Good but not overly flashy. Play songs everyone knows and seems to like.

if "play songs everyone knows and likes" was your takeaway from that post you've got a long row to hoe.
There's so much more to unpack from that.
 

OHIOSTEVE

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I despise vulgarity on stage....I despise really loud bar bands...I despise a band begging for tips or taking long breaks on and on. Those are a few things I insist that the band doesn't do. When someone offers to buy me a drink....shot of patron. I have had 5 setting on my amp untouched at the end of a gig. It is ALWAYS about the bottom line. If you do not realize that you will always struggle for gigs.
 

MikeyTheCat

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I despise vulgarity on stage....I despise really loud bar bands...I despise a band begging for tips or taking long breaks on and on. Those are a few things I insist that the band doesn't do. When someone offers to buy me a drink....shot of patron. I have had 5 setting on my amp untouched at the end of a gig. It is ALWAYS about the bottom line. If you do not realize that you will always struggle for gigs.

I still get a kick out of how Steve went from tentative solo act to now a seasoned musician.
Keep kicking ass Steve!
 

OHIOSTEVE

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if "play songs everyone knows and likes" was your takeaway from that post you've got a long row to hoe.
There's so much more to unpack from that.
I still get a kick out of how Steve went from tentative solo act to now a seasoned musician.
Keep kicking ass Steve!
Thanks..... I learn a lot here but I am also an observer of people. Always watching the crowd and the bartenders for reaction to songs and actions. I am having some health issues (nothing major) and am on a self imposed diet (down 23 pounds already) and I am not drinking. Guy offered to buy me a drink at my last gig. I declined and told him why but realized I screwed up. SO I bought him one. GUYS (most know this) even if your gig includes free drinks and someone offers to buy you one...TAKE IT.

I went to watch a band one night....well actually they were on a stage opposite me and we were swapping sets. I have never seen someone just gratuitously say f&%k as much as them. I don't mean as part of a song but just stand there and say it repeatedly rapid fire. The crowd was kind of an older redneck type and you could see people physically cringe. I have not heard of them playing but one show since then and that was over a year ago. Anyway as everyone else has said be professional above all else.
 

Lungo

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Have you thought about asking the venues what the deal is?
 

edro

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Tip jar ain't it.... I would suggest it is the cash register most likely.... Make it ring and you make bank....

Different crowds draw different drinkers.... If a band only draws beer drinkers, might not be back...

If you attract folks the are drinking wells or calls, they are making money. How much is determined by bottle-pay ratio...

If a seat warmer drinks three calls instead of three PBRs, club has made a good bit more money on the calls...once the bottle has been paid, the rest is profit...

Folks that drink calls are also not likely to drink out of the car trunk... nor are they likely to go burn one and then just nurse one PBR all night....

If the bar has a kitchen, they also will look at how many covers were sold that night.....


Also, about the dumbest thing to do in the biz is to piss off a bartender..... Kinda obvious why one should avoid that at all costs.... Not rocket science....


In the pause for the cause jabbering, always remind folks to take care of the bartenders and waitresses as they are working very hard to take care of everyone..... THEN you can BRIEFLY mention the tip jar.... Never mention it before the bartenders/waitresses..... You could toss in a couple/few ones when you get there and hang one over the lip so it is visible.....later on thank the folks for the tips.... just don't say 'You're welcome' to yourself on stage.... ;)


YOU also should toss a buck or something in the bartender's jar when they get you anything.... I drink coffee when I work. It is free for me but I always tip the bartender.... Always....
 

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