10 tips on how to make the best impression at a new gig location.
1. Always make sure to confirm your gig prior to leaving town if you are traveling.
Mistakes happen and schedule changes are possible. Even at the last minute, venues have and will toss a new person coming in when given the opportunity to book a returning favorite that is guaranteeing a crowd. It's not nice to do so, but it happens. So best protect yourself and make sure you are still scheduled. If a cancellation does happen. Ask for a new date right away, but never appear rude or inconvenienced to make the venue feel bad. It'll haunt you later.
2. Ask when the load in time frame is and follow it.
If you find out you are going to be late for load-in for instance at a restaurant, call the venue as soon as you know you will be late, to find out if it's ok to load-in late. I have witnessed musicians being turned away for their gig because they arrived late at a restaurant that specifically required load-in be complete prior to peak dinner hour. And even though the musician would have been able to start the gig on time, the musician being late was inconvenient for the restaurant.
3. Ask the venue if there are any particular drink specials
or announcements they would like announced on the PA between sets. It shows you care about their business and want to help increase the register for the evening.
4. Do not forget to announce reminders for tipping for the wait staff and bartenders. They really do appreciate acts that do that. At the end of the evening, tip the wait staff yourself
. Even if they didn't bring you anything to the stage. Nothing says you shouldn't just because you are playing there. Waiters talk amongst themselves. And impressing them is a big part of the game. They will ask venue owners when you are coming back, and they will tell their friends when you play. Little things matter. And you'll be the last, maybe the only, good thing of the night to happen to them. Who wouldn't want to be that kind of thought? :)
5. Clean your stage area
of drink bottles, put chairs back that you used and leave things as you found it, or better, when you exit the venue. You'll stand out - believe me.
6. Assuming you liked the venue, add the venue to your holiday card list
- and send them a thank you card after your first gig and let them know you appreciated being there and look forward to coming back. But, do so even if you don't want to gig there again, it's easy enough to 'not be available'. But it's not easy to recover from being unappreciative. Again...you'll stand out.
7. Give the venue a CD for their overhead player
. Many venues will play them. Especially for the ones that have made the best impression.
8. Offer their customers some raffle prizes through the night.
Play some games like "First one to buy the newest drink on the menu, gets a free t-shirt" Always come prepared to give away things at your gigs. It really does make a difference and it's easy to do.
9. Make an effort to remember names of the staff so you can name them on stage. "Billy behind the bar makes a fabulous Margarita guys - go grab one!" or "Lisa is a fabulous waiter everyone, remember to tip her good.", sounds so personal and warm. You just can't help but like someone who calls your name from a stage :)
10. BE ON TIME starting, and stopping your gig. Leave it up to the venue to ask you to play later if it's an option. Or if the crowd is going strong, think to ask them if they want you to play longer. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and don't hesitate to barter if you've done a fabulous job at maintaining the crowd. Offer to stay another hour for a certain sum of money. (whatever applies, but be fair) Most would be happy to let you play all night as long as they are making money, but don't assume, and don't stop cold and empty the place without showing you care enough to ask what they would like for you to do. And whatever you do....avoid taking breaks when it's starting to pick up, and when you do..keep them short. You are being paid to play, not drink and sit around.