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Discussion Starter #1
I'm playing tonight for the art walk for tips. Don't laugh, it's fun and I make a few bucks.

I'm not a big ham though, so I'm not that great at drawing people in with anything other than my playing. I'd be interested to read what others do. :D

As a side note/anecdote:

One time I was playing a couple walked by and stopped in front of me to listen for a bit. They were totally decked out. The guy had some kind of cashmere overcoat, felt hat, gold watch and walking stick with a gold handle. After standing there enjoying the show for a bit, the guy pulled out a giant wad of bills with hundreds visible in it. :shock: Alas, he only dropped me a single. :evil: Hence, my question. Thanks guys!
 

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When playing on the street for tips: dress either very nicely (suit/tuxedo) or very poorly (ragged jeans, holes in shoes). This should get you more tips.
 

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Don't forget the ever popular high note held way too long.

You may get some response from the old fast lick played repeatedly.

You may want to nail down some Coltrane licks just in case another musician stops by to listen.
 

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Make sure that you put a 5 or 10 dollor bill in the case fully visable under a bunch of coins. That guy would have been embarassed in front of his wife to give less than the top bill in the case. He wants to be a big shot, his wife/girlfriend wants to be with a big shot. Everyone wins!!!! Make sure there is enough in the case to set the example to give, but not more than what most people carry as cash in their pockets. Take extra bills and change and put it away.



Play near where diner is being eaten and be visiable. They will see you coming and going. Booze makes guys want to give more. Playing 'Feelings' to the girl will make the guy want to upstage you and re-asert his connection to his female companion. So he gives $$. She will love it and he will hate you for it. Guys that do not give have been sent back after the girl catches him in a lie where he says he has no $$. He has to give or else no smiling girl....

Play scales and people will sit and wait for something cool to happen. They can give $$ if you when you play anything else.

Play anything that Sinatra sang when a couple over 60 walks by. Chances are they have a few moments in their life that will bring back happy memories. New York New York is always fun.

Play a slow Vegas martini bar version of London Calling by the Clash. The Lounge Lizards have a few CDs out with this type of cheezy approach. Its fun to play and its a bit of a game if people can not figure out the tune right away. Almost any rock tune will do.

This is an exersise in psychology. Weather plays a part as well. Sunny evenings with happy people pay the most. Talent is important but not as much as wooing the crowd through eye contact.

Passing limos get the eye always. Alot of college kids rent them for fun and its part of the fun for them to get out and give a few coins. Who would expect that from a limo, least of all a street musician....
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Face Ache Mike said:
If you have a standing audience (opposed to a passing one), chat briefly and ask if they have a favourite song that you`d play specially for them. That always gets me the biggest tips.
This is exactly what I did. A lot of people will stop and listen and then want to talk to me between songs. This one couple ended up staying for a long time, and I only had 1 CD of backing tracks at the time, but I seemed to have all their favorites. ;) "James Brown?? I gotta give you another 5 for that!" I even played a few a capella that I didn't have on CD. By the end of my show I had quite a crowd and we had a great time.

The other thing I did was give up on my little tip jar and just opened my case. It's a much bigger target. :D I got almost twice as much as I've gotten in the past, so thanks guys!
 

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Elmer Kurgpold, This summer we got the tip jar off the ground and on a stool. Now the tips are twice what they were last season. An under handed trick we use is to give some single bills out to some good friends and when the crowd gets thick have them put the money in, "monkey see monkey do". One other thing is when someone puts some money in the jar ask them where they are from over the microphone and play them a song ("Stars fell on Alabama", "New York New York") others will want this to as well.
 

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littlewailer said:
why slaps squeels and overtones of course....
And honking low Bb, B, C, C#!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
DaveMac said:
Elmer Kurgpold, This summer we got the tip jar off the ground and on a stool. Now the tips are twice what they were last season. An under handed trick we use is to give some single bills out to some good friends and when the crowd gets thick have them put the money in, "monkey see monkey do". One other thing is when someone puts some money in the jar ask them where they are from over the microphone and play them a song ("Stars fell on Alabama", "New York New York") others will want this to as well.
Ha ha! That's sneaky.:twisted:

Since I've started doing this, I've been wondering about the standard "etiquette" if there is such a thing. Like, when I do get a tip, should I just nod and wave if I have a hand free, or stop playing and say thanks, or....? I've been doing a combination, and more often than not now, people will wait til the end of a song to move on so it's easier to say thanks.

The biggest thing I've noticed is to talk to them, just like you suggest, and ask them about the songs they like. I've been really hoping some of the "old timers" would bring up other suggestions and experiences. There's got to be more than a few interesting stories out there. ;)
 

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I've worked for tips a lot over the years and it's hard to figure what makes a good tip night happen. I mean, you have to give it your best shot, regardless, but sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. One thing's for sure: to work a crowd, you've got to go with the flow. If they want "Sweet Home Alabama", work it. If you're playing for tips, you're "singing for your supper"...........daryl
 

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I used to play down in the subway (the T) in Boston when I was in college and spent all my money too quickly. I would borrow a dollar from my roommate, and have to earn it back plus supper money before I came back.

Lessons I learned:
-This is where I learned that drunk people tip better. Especially if you play the Simpsons for them.
-Bums will kick your case all over the platform, but don't put down your horn to break their nose, because they may have a friend behind you waiting to steal it. (I learned the second half of this one as a kid with my bike, thank God.)
- Some nights are just bad nights, where you have to play for 8 hours for 6 dollars to eat at Wendy's. Largely, this is a function of...
- Location, location, location. 'Nuff said.
- Reeds turn black after 2 hours in the subway. If you stay there longer than 4 hours, you will have to throw away your reed. Do a cost/benefit analysis... if it's a bad night, go home early.
- Once, on the way home from a terrible night, I stopped to change trains, and found a gospel singer with a keyboard. He wasn't making much, but was doing better than me. I asked to sit in. I stayed for two hours, and we split the $80 we made while I was there. I doubled his intake. Sometimes more is better, however...
- I thought the guy was good, but I was really listening to my stomach rumbling. I used him for a recording session a month later... terrible idea.
- And the last lesson I learned: to borrow from Mo' Better Blues, "The people don't come because you grandiose motherf*%&ers don't play the [email protected]# that they like!" Play the sh$% that they like.
 
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