Money is always an awkward topic of conversation – and if you’re in the live performance industry, it can be challenging to earn a living without subsidizing your wages with tips. Many musicians reading this will know the struggle to negotiate gig fees and, sometimes, have to play gigs solely for tip money. Here at BandMix, we’ve come up with some advice for getting more tips at your next concert so that you can leave with a little more pocket money.
Have the right tip jar
Weigh up your jar options and consider if an instrument case or hat makes a good enough tip jar for the particular gig/venue you’re playing. You may want to find a suitable container that will look more professional for keeping tips in, such as a metal collection bucket or glass jar. Have it clearly labeled and in a place where the audience can see it. Keep in mind that many musicians put a few dollars in the jar themselves before they start playing, as this is more likely to encourage listeners to start tipping.
Since people carry less cash these days, it could be wise to set up a virtual payment option. You could have a QR code or another simple way for people to tip using their smartphones. Alternatively, the website builder BandVista offers a tip jar feature on their sites, so if you have a BandVista website, be sure to mention your site URL during the gig. (Don’t forget that with a BandMix Elite membership, you can create a professional custom website for your music via BandVista!)
Take song requests in return for a set tip donation. It’s worth having a list of songs written down so that any gig-goers can choose from your repertoire.
With tipping culture, it could be worth planting seeds for the audience. For example, you could ask the audience to tip if they like what they hear, or perhaps if they liked a particular song.
You could mention if you’re saving money for something specific, like studio time or for a tour. By having a fundraising goal and a target amount of insight, your audience may be more likely to donate to your cause.
However, it may take a little investment upfront; however, selling merch is one of the best ways for musicians to benefit financially from live shows. If you have some songs recorded and on a CD, gigs are a great place to sell them to listeners and fans. You could also create some cool designs and have a range of merch for people to buy, such as T-shirts, hats, badges, and tote bags. You can easily put your logo on anything nowadays, and it could earn you a decent amount of money at your next gig.
Walk the Jar Around
On your breaks, take a few minutes to walk around the room with your tip jar. Not only will you get a few more bucks, but you could also use it to mingle with your fans. At some venues, such as on Bourbon Street, bands rarely stop playing, and it is very competitive, so they rotate breaks, and the ‘off’ musician will often walk the tip jar around. Otherwise, you could ask a friend to walk around the room with the tip jar while you’re playing your set.
An additional idea is to have an email sign-up sheet next to the tip jar. As people tip, encourage them to write down their email addresses and receive newsletters for your music or band. This is a great way to build a fanbase and push sales for future CD’s/merch/gigs, as well as being able to share your virtual tip jar link.
Setting up a tip-share with a non-profit organization can boost tips. Find a cause that will work for yourself and your audience, and perhaps mention that 50% of all tips from that concert will be donated to your cause – many tippers will be more generous because of it. It’ll feel good to raise money for an organization while earning a little extra cash for yourself. It’s a win-win!
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. At the end of your set, make sure you mention you’re taking tips, and be upfront with the audience if you’re playing solely for tip money – you never know who will stick a few dollars in your jar!
Remember to be kind and considerate when asking for tips, and be sure to say thank-you when someone does tip. With these tip ideas, you’re sure to make some extra bucks at your next live gig!