A Guy Walks Into a Bar, Continued…

WALKING INTO THE BAR!

Note to reader: Here we are. Finally arriving at the first step of busking in bars. Starting out, you might want to start with a neighborhood type bar to cut your teeth. Regulars, cheap beer, people who aren’t expecting much. Fun, easy, no stress… Later on I will give you some pointers on how to make it into a major operation but you gotta start somewhere and it’s better to learn to swim in the shallow end instead of jumping head on into the deep end of the pool!

LOCATION

First- Ask for permission from the general management (GM) or owner if you will be on private property. (This includes asking the nearby shop owners if you will be on a sidewalk near the shop’s entrance.) It is (in my opinion anyways) important to be on everybody’s good side if it’s at all possible. It will make it much easier for you to be sure. This includes police and security guards if possible. Look at it this way, whether they give you their permission or not, they may be pleased you came in to ask and they will know who you are and what you are doing which goes a long way towards avoiding problems in the future. Give them a card if you have one. If not, make one. It is a little thing but a card shows that you take yourself seriously and that you are established enough to have one. You can get them as low as $50 for 500, so what is the deal with home printed/perforated edge ones? Get a real card if you are a for real business! This is TOTALLY something worth judging someone on. That is the point. Color copies are a good alternative if you want to keep it low cost and add a lot of info. You might consider making a lot of these to hand out to customers if you are in an area where you might get residual income gigs. TOTALLY worth it in my opinion. Don’t do the “make your own’ business card thing if you want to be taken seriously! If they give you permission, offer them a sketch. If they don’t want one, offer to draw somebody else for them. This allows them to see first hand what you’re doing and establishes a positive rapport.

When you get to an establishment ask a staff person their name tell them yours. Ask them how they are, be nice and try to get them to smile by smiling at them. The idea is that your pleasant attitude will rub off on them. Ask them if the GM or owner is around and make sure they are not busy. (Asking for permission at a busy time is almost certain to get you the brush off.) If they are busy, ask when a good time to catch them will be and then come back. If it is in the morning sometime during the week, come early because they usually leave early. If they tell you to come back later ask if you can leave a card and draw the staff member so that the GM can see what you do. This goes a long way toward making a good impression. Hopefully the pleasant attitude of the staff member will be noticed by the GM, they will enjoy your artwork and maybe they will even look forward to meeting you when you stop by later! – All because you made a good impression on the staff member who relayed the message. DO NOT HAVE THE STAFF MEMBER ASK THEM IF YOU CAN COME IN AND DRAW.

Make sure there is NO DRAMA in your first encounter with the GM. Please keep in mind that to most GM’s, what you will be doing is merely an afterthought. They will go with their impulses. If they sense the slightest hint of trouble, they will give you the thumbs downs indefinitely. If you have already gotten permission from other local establishments, let them know you will be going to those places as well when you introduce yourself. This will show that what you are doing has already been accepted by at least one of their peers, which may also make it easier for them to go along with it.

More on meeting with the staff and manager next post.

Copyright Adam Pate, 2013 All rights reserved.

A Guy Walks Into a Bar (Continued)

STROLLING CAFE BUSKING

Café busking is a little like walk by busking but on private property. Generally you set up in a corner of a bar, restaurant or outdoor mall type area after getting permission from the business/property owner and you wait for people to come up to you to get drawn. (musicians can play and hope that somebody comes up to tip them for a request, like an open mic night). This is a popular request also from the establishment owner so they may seek you out and actually offer you an hourly wage or stipend if you’re lucky- or rather if you INSIST on it…

Most of the birthday party type entertainers I know in my local area drum up about 60% of their business by cafe busking. The management pays them a low weekly rate (about a quarter of their hourly rate) plus whatever tips they can make and a free meal (free is good), to come into the establishment on a regular basis and go table to table to entertain kids. It is a commitment however. the establishment may advertise your appearances and you may leave promotional information laying around. It may be a problem if it would be difficult for you to do it every week on the same night and time. For one thing, you may be giving up some work you can charge full price for in order to honor your commitment. If that were the case, you may have to have another entertainer to cover you sometimes, and pay them what they want in order to keep the commitment to the establishment. Remember, the other entertainer does not have an agreement to work for 25% of their hourly rate for a set amount of time so after a few times of doing this it might be hard to find a make up entertainer.

The idea is to bring the walk-by busker into the establishment to add atmosphere to the room. While this certainly does add charm to the establishment, it often happens that it is at the expense of the busker as traditional barking to get people to come sit for you would be inappropriate in this situation, for what the management has in mind, so if you’re not busy then you’re stuck there in a corner of a boring bar doing nothing and you’d be stuck in that one location.

If it’s OK with the management, you might try going from table to table and asking people to come sit for you in the corner if you sit there for too long. This starts my next topic though… You might be able to dress up a little and have a drink or two and you will for sure make way better tips than you would have on the street and not have to worry about as many of the “hassles” that they go through, but it is still very difficult to keep busy and make money this way. You are at the mercy of the bar. If you haven’t played your hand right, the bar owner may also want you to give him a cut of your earnings and also require you to not go to any competing establishments which is the last thing you want. Most of the positives cross over into the next section- STROLLING!

I WANT TO TEACH YOU ABOUT STROLLING, aka, WALKAROUND BUSKING, specifically in bars and restaurants. Strolling busking is just what it sounds like. YOU ARE MOBILE. The “pitch” may be a bar, a restaurant, a mall, a cocktail party, a parking lot, an outdoor concert, a street, a boardwalk, an intersection, a crowd of people anywhere, etc… mosltly on private property, sometimes on public. Strolling artists can go pretty much anywhere and sometimes they get PAID FULL PRICE to work at a gig where they are very likely to get tipped well!!

(Copyright, Adam Pate 2013. All rights reserved)