If you follow us, you know we had a gig at El Sombrero Restaurant last Saturday night.
We had a great time and from all the indications, so did everyone else. There was a lot of dancing in a room with no dance floor (the aisles were packed), a few of “That’s my most favorite @#$*in’ song” proclamations and then singing every word along with us, a request for a ‘foot’ song (I don’t think I can tell that story by myself if I wanted to, but ask me sometime and I might try) and a couple of impassioned pleas to the bartender to let us sing ‘One more song’ at the end of the night. But the one that got me thinking was when one of the dancers danced close to us and at the end of the song was looking around to the side of us and on the floor, looked at us and asked
“Where’s your tip jar?”
And we replied in unison “We don’t have a tip jar”.
First, let me tell you, I’m all for tipping. If you want to tip us, we’re going to let you. We just don’t have a tip jar. And that got me to thinking about it and why we don’t.
I think that like all things, tip jars can be used well and abused. That goes for musicians as well as anywhere else you see them. I expect to see tip jars when I see:
- Someone Busking
It’s the way they’re making money, after all
- A piano player at a piano bar or a house band that appears more than once a month at a venue
They’re usually taking less money per performance, they take a ton of requests and are building a fan base and that’s the way people will show their appreciation
Where I don’t expect to see tip jars:
- A band playing at a festival
It’s a one time shot, or you’re looking to get asked back next year
- A band booked into a venue once or on a long rotation (every other month)
Same reason as above
Last Saturday’s gig falls into that second category. In that case it’s not about us, it’s about you. Now before you go thinking I’ve gone all saccharinely sweet “our music is all for you” on you, there’s a business reality to that statement too. If the owner thinks that having us back to play will get you back as a customer, we’ll be back to play.
So dance in the aisles, tell us that’s your most favorite song, sing along with us, beg the bartender to let us play longer, tell the staff you’re having a great time listening to us play and even ask them when we’ll be back there. Have a great time and let the staff know about it. If that happens, we’ll all be back together to do it again.
And if you feel like it, feel free to tip us. We’ll take it, just don’t expect to see a tip jar at our gigs anytime soon.