I recently did a 3 hour show and was reminded about the importance of connecting with your audience. A good audience connection provides a memorable experience for listeners. It gives them an opportunity to escape from their daily struggles, relax and get a feeling that they can’t get anywhere else. It also promotes a fun and safe atmosphere where they feel comfortable tipping if applicable. In the first 45 minutes of my show, I didn’t make any connections because, frankly, I didn’t think the audience was interested. They were all just talking amongst themselves, sipping wine, and in their own worlds. Plus, when we were doing a sound check, the manager came and reminded us to keep our audio levels down so the patrons can hear themselves talk. I get that. Maybe they just wanted some background music. Sometimes people just want to listen to mellow music and enjoy a glass of wine with their friends. At this point there was no money in my tip jar except for the measly two dollars I put in myself to get the jar started. But 45 minutes into my set, somehow the environment transformed. People began clapping after every song, so I started talking to them and they listened. Next thing you know I was doing my improv songs, we all were engaged and the tip money started rolling in. This experience reminded me that there is a direct correlation with crowd engagement and tips! So, I wanted to share some of the methods I’ve used and have seen other artists use to encourage listeners to bring you more tip money.
Talk to People.
Learn to get comfortable with your audience and talk to them. They may seem unapproachable at first, but it’s your job to break the ice. If they came to see a live show, chances are they are looking for a good time. When you involve your audience in stage banter it makes their experience memorable and unique. They go home or go to work the next day and talk about how good of a time they had partly out of pride that they got to see you and others didn’t, but mostly because they’re still so excited and can’t get over the unbelievable time they had. Either way, it’s in your best interest to engage with them because the more you can engage them, the more comfortable they will be to give you their money. Talk to them. Find out what their names are and call them out by name. If you make friends with them, it eventually gets to a point in the show where they feel like they know you and feel you deserve to be financially supported. Ask questions. Ask what they do for a living. Ask them about their companions. Find a way to integrate their stories into your stories. You can also use groups to spark engagement. At the show I did recently, we had two large groups in the audience. One of the groups consisted of all ladies. So I asked if they were doing ladies night? They said yes and I asked the audience to give it up for ladies night! Everyone started clapping. After that, every time there was a chance to mention ladies, I pointed to their table and said ‘Ladies Night!’ They cheered themselves on every time. They were one of the first ones to get up and bring a tip which brings me to the next way to get more tips…
Acknowledge Anyone Who Tips.
Even if you’re in the middle of a song, say ‘Thank You’ anytime someone comes up and brings a tip. If you can’t possibly say thank you, then give them eye contact and a smile. Pay attention the next time someone comes up to give you a tip. Most people will usually look up at you for acknowledgement either before they drop the money in the jar or afterward. They are looking for you to show them that they are appreciated. It makes them feel good. When other people see that you show appreciation, they start bringing up money too because they want the same thing. Also, pay special attention to the kids. Usually adults who have kids will send their kids to your tip jar with tip money. Be sure to thank the kids and try and shoot a smile toward their parents too. After all, the money came from them.
Learn Covers and Be Willing to Take Suggestions.
This one works extremely well. When someone asks you to do a song and you do it well, they feel obliged to tip you. You can even control which songs you do by putting out a list of covers you can do and have them pick from the list. Make the announcement and tell them to come to your table to look at the list. Once they’re at the table they will also see your tip jar.
Use the Power of Suggestion.
Start your tip jar off with a few singles. This does two things. It demonstrates what the jar is there for and it gives off the appearance that you have already been tipped. When people see that other people have tipped you, it makes them feel more comfortable doing it. Also, put out a small sign saying something like ‘Thank You For Your Support’ and place it in front of the tip jar.
Have you ever heard the saying,’ A closed mouth doesn’t get fed’? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Ask people to come to your table and tip you. You don’t have to wine about it, but just gently let them know that your tip jar is there and ask them to give whatever they feel comfortable giving. You will be amazed at how generous people can be. They will come up with smiles and their money in hand just because you showed them a good time. It is one of the most genuine exchanges you can have.
You can greatly increase your earnings just by having a tip jar and knowing how to use it. Audience engagement is key to unlocking many opportunities including earning money in tips. Don’t be intimidated by your audience. Learn how to take authority and command their attention. They will respect and appreciate you for it.