Recently a friend tried to help me get a gig, she said the restaurant owner wanted to meet me and chat. His place is just up the street, so I thought, why not? We met, he was busy and asked me to come back in a couple days and bring my guitar. I told him that I could send him links to my website, to my music so that he could take a listen and then decide, but he insisted I come back in person with my guitar.
To be honest, I can’t remember a time when I ever did a live audition, it’s usually through a reference or agent, or through emails. But, I need to work, so I went back.
When I got there a young woman had just finished performing, she seemed nervous and overly excited. I introduced myself and she told me that she was just starting out and that her dad also played there. Then the Dad came in and starting chatting up a storm, I smiled and thought, “Oh my…” When the owner saw us talking he rushed up and cut the conversation off quickly, thanking them both and turned to me. He said there was a large table in the back with customers, and suggested that I go back and play for them. I was taken aback, what?
So, being a good sport, I walked back to the table of 15 women and introduced myself into their Birthday party, they were nice, offered me a seat, upon which I sat and pulled out my guitar. They stared at me, I shuffled through a mental file of songs and then started to play. I had obviously interrupted their celebration, but they were kind and clapped and sang and ate and talked during my short performance.
When I was done, I thanked them and looked for the owner, who had drifted away before I plucked a string or sang a note. I wandered around thinking, “Oh my…” After about 10 minutes of waiting, I was getting ready to head for the door when I saw him heading my way. “You’re a really good guitar player”, he said, I wanted to say that I thought he was a really good manager, but didn’t want to lie.
He wanted to book me that weekend, he gave me the date, the time, but not a dollar amount. So, I of course asked, to which he replied, “Oh, you get paid in tips from the customers.” I told him, that I didn’t play for just tips, and he asked how much I charged. I told him and he said, “well then you can’t accept any tips”, the reason he said that if I took tips from customers and got paid, then his waitress’ would make less money, because instead of tipping the waitress’ the customers would be tipping me.
I tried to make sense of this, so I repeated it back to him. “So you’re saying that if you pay me, then I can’t accept tips from customers because then the customers won’t tip the waitress, but if you don’t pay me, then I can accept tips from customers and the waitresses will get still tips?” He said yes, I said “Thank you for your time, but I’m not interested”. As I was leaving, smiling at myself, he shouted, #girlwithguitar
Rules To Follow when booking gigs:
- Don’t play for free (my exceptions are charities or benefits)
- Don’t let friends set up gigs for you without setting up a time with the booking person first. Time is money for all parties
- If a venue can’t take the time to look at your website, they probably won’t make the time to see you.
- If other performers have not experience, it’s probably not a place known for live music.
- Don’t accept food in lieu of cash, you can’t pay the bills with cold lasagna
- Make sure to research a venue you’re interested in, who plays there and when
- Don’t talk trash about an experience, it wasn’t his fault, it’s actually other musicians that play for free that allows him to think this way.
Today’s Musing: “Music with dinner is an insult both to the cook and the violinist.” ― G.K. Chesterton