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Is it in poor taste...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Jimmy Bones, May 1, 2009.

What;s the most tasteful option?

Poll closed May 7, 2009.
  1. No tip jar.

    22 vote(s)
  2. Tip jar, but no pointing it out.

    25 vote(s)
  3. Tip jar, mention it at the beginngin or end or both of our set.

    29 vote(s)
  4. Tip jar, remind everybody between songs.

    6 vote(s)
  1. Jimmy Bones

    Jimmy Bones

    Feb 24, 2009
    Baxley, GA
    Hey guys.

    So, in the another thread, someone mentioned being booked for a non-paying gig (wedding party), and one of the repliers mentioned leaving a tip jar or case open for tips as a feasible method of maybe recouping some of the costs of doing the show.

    I went a couple weeks back to a small bar venue where my band will be gigging (unpaid) twice next month, and one of the bands I saw paying there had a lead singer who quite brazonly menioned several times that they had a tip jar at the foot of the stage, and encouraged donations as they were 'starving artists.'

    I found that to be in poor taste, just seemed tacky, knowing that this same band also has swag to sell on the side.

    My question to you guys is, do you think it would be in poor taste to have a tip jar, without mentioning it? Or would we be justified in pointing it out? Or should we just not do it at all?
  2. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    If you're busking that's one thing.

    If a crowd consists of people who are there to eat or to celebrate, then nagging them for money is bad form. Additionally, claiming (even as a joke) that out that artists tend to be hungry surely tends to reduce the perceived value of our efforts.

    By contrast it's nice to have something to sell, even to say (just once!)" we're trying to raise money for our next project, we've got a CD of our demos for $5 if you want it" and leave it at that.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well there's no doubt which is the most "tasteful" option - but I think it sounds like you want a compromise that allows you to get money ...:p
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree 100% - I have even been on highly-paid wedding gigs where people (guests) have come up and asked if we had a CD they could buy! :)
  5. Playing for free is bad enough in and of itself but not mentioning the tip jar (repeatedly) or trying to sell merchandise (repeatedly) is insane. It is bad enough to play for free but cutting off every possible source of income is just plain silly. What are you thinking? :rollno:
  6. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I just starting the whole tip jar thang and we dont say a word. We put it out with a nice big sign on it saying to please support local mucic and we get decent tips. When our CD is done we will say at our shows a couple of times that they are for sale..thats it.
  7. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    When you are playing for free, a tip jar is completely appropriate, and mentioning it in a limited way is fine, too. People don't always notice its there. To mention it at the end of a set is fine. To keep harping on it is not.

    We always put out a tip jar, whether we're being paid or not. Pay rates here are not great, so tips are very much appreciated. Some places won't let you have a tip jar, but most will. Some of those won't let you pass it around or mention it. Most will, though, and some places will get someone to pass it around for you, if you don't have someone to do it already.

  8. BassScum


    May 1, 2008
    So Cal

    At bars we mention the tip jar maybe once sometimes not at all, but it's always out. But we also encourage tipping the waitresses and the bartender over the mic as well.

    At the wedding receptions I've played the tip jar stays in the trailer. But we are always payed and the person paying usually always gives us a nice tip on top of the base pay especially if they have been drinking all night.
  9. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas
    Being as how they are playing the wedding for free...tips are appropriate. Maybe limit the mention of the tip jar to once or twice, just to keep it polite.

    If they were getting paid, a tip jar should either not be present, or not be mentioned. But...there's no pay at this shindig.

  10. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    A tip jar in a club is fine.
    A wedding is different.
    If your band decides to play wedding for free.
    Then it should be for free?
    Different crowd at a wedding. (they were invited)
    If the bride & groom decide to tip?
    That's there choice.
  11. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    A tip jar at a wedding is NEVER appropriate. The band's compensation for a wedding is a matter that should be negotiated with the person who hires you. If you choose play for free, play for free--that does not give you license to look to a private event's invited guests for payment.
  12. We never have a tip jar for a blues band I perform with but usually at least once or twice an evening the band singer/guitarist announces that we take requests and said requests must be submitted in writing on the back of a $20 bill.
  13. 1954bassman


    Jun 7, 2004
    Hickory, NC
    Years ago, our fledging band had a monthly weekend gig where we played one set Friday night, six sets Saturday, and two or three on Sunday morning. It was at a family-style restaurant where folks waited in line (sometimes for hours) and the place ran about 2000 customers through a day (saturday) probably 600 on Sunday, a couple hundred on Friday nights.

    We played for free lodging (very rustic cabins) and free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They allowed a tip jar, and we brought in about $400 a weekend. Then one weekend, some fans came up and spent the weekend, and they 'passed the hat.' We brought in like $2500 that weekend, so we continued to use that system from then on. We always mentioned our CDs right before break, and would sell a couple hundred every weekend.

    Worked great for us, and we really didn't make a big deal out of donations or sales. And our band was not all that great, but we were friendly, and played almost any requests we got. We did all Gospel. My wife and I still have the same band today, twenty years later. The restuarant no longer has bands though. :)
  14. Thor

    Thor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    For a wedding, an emphatic no.

    For a bar venue, why would you play for free? If you
    are entertaining the bar's customers, why should the
    owner not kick in something?

    Is your band an original music band and the venue
    is one that supports original music? Or are they just
    ripping musicians off?

    Anyway, if you are not paid, I would push the tip jar hard.

    I think the band you saw got the message across, 'the owner
    is a cheap bastage and we are trying to make a buck here,
    so our little commercials are needed to keep music in here'.

    For the record, we had a pretty good thread on paid vs unpaid
    gigs a few months ago and the majority of pro and semi pro
    players seemed to agree that unpaid playing at bars and other
    for profit establishments was a no-no, and hurts the rest of
    the musical community as well; unless it was strictly for
    promotion of original projects.

    Even non-profit benefits and galas people thought they should
    be paid something. The caterer doesn't work for nothing for sure.
    And a few noted that the old line 'you'll be getting exposure'
    is BS as they really didn't achieve any paying gigs out of

    By the time you spent the gas to get there and back and
    if you bought a beer or two, you paid to play. And that
    ain't right.

    So yeah, BIG one gallon pickle tip jar.
  15. fishtx

    fishtx Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Genzler Amplification/Spector Basses/Mojo Hand FX
    +1...Never at a wedding....
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm curious too! Wht are you playing a "venue" TWICE next month FOR FREE??????? THAT, my friend, is more rediculous than hounding people for tips! That "venue" owner is taking ALL of you for a ride!!!!

    (deep breath)

    OK Back to your rediculous topic. If it's public (and again ....FREE) tips jars and mentioning them over the PA is fine. If it's private (wedding, birthday party, etc. and...again....FREE) no way. It's bad form.


    I'm trying to feel you here. Really I am. But playing for free is just....well.....stupid.
  18. Our position was that, if we weren't being payed for a particular gig then we asked the owner / person that hired us if it would be OK to use a tip jar and advertise our CDs. We were never pushy about it, didn't make a big deal of it, but if OK'd by the employer we put it out there and tastefully promoted.

    It's never a good idea to guilt the crowd into tipping, and at a wedding or other special occasion it's a good idea to think about why you took the gig in the first place (personal favor, friend of a friend, etc.). Not all those gigs should have a tip jar - take the high road and you won't go wrong.
  19. I comonly do Duo gigs with a guitar player in the summer (low pay, but steady). We leave a guitar case open, but don't really mention anything. People always leave tips. On a good day, we will make more in tips than the place is paying us. We usually use the money to fund our drinking habit @ the bar anyway.... plus the place searves the BEST lobster roll (but @ $20 a pop!!!)
  20. Bassgrinder77

    Bassgrinder77 Banned

    Jan 23, 2009
    My band gets tipped fairly often at paid gigs (we don't play for free). A couple of months ago a dude tipped us $200. About a month ago another dude tipped us $100. We're a four piece plus a sound man so it's nice. We never solicit tips or have a jar or anything. People just come up to the stage and hand one of us money.

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