We've covered a lot of ground in this blog already. We discussed why you should do solo or duo gigs, how to write a business proposal, took stock of your assets, musical and otherwise and did almost everything short of rehearsing the show for you. By now, you've played at least one or two gigs and while you have lots of work to still do, you're getting a feel for this type of performance. What you need now is a semi regular gig where you can do a little experimentation to fine tune what works and toss what doesn't. Simply put, you need a restaurant gig.
Why restaurant gigs? Here are some compelling reasons why.
Okay, now you're sold. Where and how do I get a restaurant performance? Look around town. If you're in a typical medium to large sized city, there might be one or two places that already have live performances. If you're in a small town, you might have to talk with every restaurant that's open, except for fast food places. Start here by simply phoning or dropping by and asking to speak with the person who coordinates hiring the performers. If they aren't in, get a phone number and the best time to call them. This is often in the mid to late afternoons during the week. Tuesday through Thursdays are best. If you have a full time job, perhaps arrange to take a break and call them at that time.
When you finally speak with this person, let them know your name, what you do and that you'd like to demonstrate what you do with them and their customers. If you know any of the performers already booked there, talk with them and get some ideas how to tailor your sales pitch. You can leave the person your phone and e mail address as well as a business card if you go by in person. Let them know you'd be happy to come by on a slow night or substitute for someone who backs out at the last minute.
I have booked several such gigs by talking with the buyer and saying this, “ I know I'll do a great job for you and your guests. But until you have me in here, it's just talk. Here is what I am willing to do. I will come in on Friday night at 7 pm and play for an hour. I charge _____ dollars per hour. If you like what I do and only if you like what I do, I'll stay and play for as long as you and I feel comfortable having me here. Pay me at the end of the evening and any tips I get, I keep. If you don't like what I do, I'll leave after the hour and you don't owe me anything. You can't lose!” Then shut up and let the booking person respond to you. Remember the first person who speaks, capitulates.
I have used this for many years and it works almost every time. If a restaurant isn't interested now, they might be later on. Leave your business card( you do have cards by now, don't you?) and ask to follow up in a few months time. The restaurant business is turnover heavy and if you keep trying, you'll eventually land an opportunity to perform at one.
Next time, we'll talk about making the most of restaurant gigs and some more approaches to landing them. Stay tuned and positive.
Riley Wilson's One Man Band is based in North Texas and gives him plenty of ideas to write about each month. If he hasn't covered a topic you want discussed, e mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org