WARNING: Only Read If The Venue You’re Playing Sells FOOD.

Written by: indieonthemove


**Guest post written by Nifty of Music Full Time.com.


"Since starting this blog, I’ve received a couple of questions from musicians who play at restaurants, and I shared my opinion and ideas with them. One artist came back to me and confirmed the strategies worked – so, I thought I’d go ahead and let you in on it too.


The Question:


“Hi Ches, I really enjoy your articles, the material you’ve shared has been stellar thus far! I’m not sure if you’ve ever played at a restaurant, but I play at restaurant venues quite often and my merch is competing with the food at the restaurant. Do you have any ideas or workarounds for this?”


My Answer…interjected with some additional opinion of course:


I’ve never played in a restaurant before, but I have played in lounges where I was competing with bar sales, so the outlook is quite similar. There are a couple of things I need to address here…

You’re More Than JUST Entertainment!

Begin by thinking of yourself as more than just a “hired” musician playing for an evening in a nice (or not so nice) restaurant. Viewing this opportunity as a typical “gig” is actually a 9 to 5 mentality that’s fatal to your income potential. The restaurant has hired you, not for the purpose of doing “you” a favor, nope. The restaurant owner is trying to add value to her customers. The concept is for people to come in, eat great food and listen to great music.


Now, you need to think like the owner; WHY is he/she doing this? The obvious answer is that the owner believes this tactic will attract more customers (and subsequently) more profit for the business.


The conclusion: The restaurant owner has hired you in an effort to bring his/her business additional revenue.


Do you see now how important it is that you change the way you view yourself?

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You’re the Restaurant’s Business Partner for the Evening!

Sounds crazy right? Let me explain; if you make the time and effort to purposely change your mindset, your perceived value will absolutely skyrocket.


Start thinking of and presenting ways the restaurant can make more money with your music (notice the shift in focus). This is about the restaurant winning…via YOU. This is more than just “entertainment” – this is a business relationship.


In the preliminary booking stages, you’ll need to position yourself as a musician who specializes in increasing restaurant revenue through music.

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The best way to do this is to strike a deal with the restaurant where your merch sales will serve as coupons or freebies for the customer’s next visit.


So for example, you play at a restaurant and you rock the place (no excuses; you still have to deliver a killer performance). You make announcements during and after your set that every person who purchases a CD will receive free sodas and refills on their next visit to the restaurant.

Do You See What Just Happened?

Now you’re no longer “competing” with the restaurant, now you’re working WITH the restaurant.


Restaurants want (and need) repeat customers, you want (and need) merch sales. With an arrangement similar to this, everyone wins.

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The Last Piece of the Puzzle…

Be sure to collect testimonials. Not just from the restaurant owner, but from the staff and audience too! The easiest way to do this is by having them speak directly into your smart phone and have it transcribed. Or you can simply record a video with your smart phone and post it on YouTube.


Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT ask for them to send you a written testimonial after you’ve left. They mean well, but it will take them forever to get it to you, if at all. Snag those testimonials while your audience is high off your show and your fans are in the moment.


Next step; use these testimonials to get bookings at other restaurants.


Here’s hoping this makes things just a little easier…"



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