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Offline Nevik

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2008, 09:46:06 PM »
Nevik, I won't say you are speaking untruly but you are either stretching the truth quite a bit or your figures are are an exception to the rule.  A large exception.  The act may have been very, very funny in which case the music proficiency is of no consequence.  Then they are a comedy act, not a music act but I still can't believe your figures.

Terry,

I'll elaborate so you will understand.  I have no reason to deceive you about the sales and income.  What would be the point in lying?  This isn't a boast as there are acts that can crush those numbers in sales and fees.  There are a few successful musical acts out there in the faire circuit.  But...it's just chump change compared to the big players in the entertainment industry.  I remember one faire act that brought in around $1,000 in tips for a single show.  Sure, they were funny, talented, had very large crowds, and they obviously worked very hard to achieve those results, but they did it.

Re: my previous venture - It wasn't that funny of an act.  It was loud, it was brash, and it wasn't that well done...ever.  The band knew how to collect tips (cornering people, blocking isles, etc.), had a professional CD merchant who happened to have a PhD in economics, kept records of what worked and what didn't (demographics & all that jive), and worked very hard on every way to get more money.  Everything else was secondary.  Trust me...secondary to that.  It really was that contrived.
Here are a few factors that contribute to the sales.
1. "Eye candy" - Hire someone who may be "attractive" to a general part of the population and stick them in front (even if they don't have any talent or may be a jerk).
2. Dress provocatively.  It isn't too hard when you wear a kilt or something goofy in addition to that for example.
3. Pander to the "lowest common denominator" so you reach the majority of your audience.  Keep it simple.
4. Hire multiple sellers.  It works to catch the impulse buyers, especially in the realm of novelty.  If the buyer has time to rationalize, they'll pass.  Don't waste time with those sitting on the fence.
5. Have package deals as incentive to buy more "product."  One CD may be $15.  Buy all 4 discs for $50.  People love a bargain.
6. Add pitches for tips and sales throughout the performance to warm them up to buying your merchandise.
7. Have a variety of people in your act so everyone in the audience can have a "favorite" or someone to connect with.  The fool, the boss, the hunk, the jerk, the hipster...whatever.
8. Make it a "really big show" (or appear to be one) - convince the audience that you have something worth watching (even if it isn't) - unfortunately, music alone is just that.
9. Hit 'em fast and hard.  We learned that it didn't matter if you played 30 minutes or 15 minutes.  The sales would work out to be around the same.  If you go on and on and on, you add opportunity for them to get bored and leave, even if you are great.  They have a lot to see & turkey legs to buy, so get on with it.
10. Be the best person you can be to the buying audience.  Be a best friend, photo ops, autographs, offers to hang out, anything.  Build the fan base, even if you don't really care.

The band was ruthless in this venture and it worked.  I personally felt like I had sold my soul just by playing in the band and absolutely hated it.  I hated it so much that I quit despite being able to make over $3000 in one weekend for approximately 8-9 hours of work.  That's just how bad it was.  That's why I said money should not be your primary motivation in your art.  If you want more money, you can get it, but you might not like the results in the end.

I hope this is eye-opening for you and apologize if it seems heartless, calculated, or cold.  It's just a reflection of the inner-workings of a crappy, yet successful (business) band.  I'm not proud of it in any way shape or form and still find myself healing from the experience.  I just wanted you to know the truth and how it worked out.  I don't recommend it to anyone.  Do it because you love it and always remember that it won't last.  Be grateful, be happy, enjoy your life.

Offline ladyecho

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2008, 09:54:52 PM »
     WOW. I waited tables for 8 years so I know about the ups and downs of tipping. But I have learned so much here about ren-tipping.  Both of my faires pass a hat and ,like many has said before me, I give what I can. One thing I want to mention that I don't think I have heard anyone hear say is that I heard most of the performers give a little speech at the end of their show (or song, or bit ) along the lines of if you like the show please tip. I especially like the Tortuga Twins speech of " tipping helps us to keep performing, if we can't make a living this way than we have to go back to our old jobs as kindergarten teachers". Most of the time I try to tip at least a golden dollar per show. Now I'll have to start saving more golden dollars, but like I said earlier " I give what I can."

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2008, 11:35:11 PM »
Nevik,

Hypothetical Question:  Where do you find audiences that dumb?

Not only would I not tip for that kind of act, I wouldn't buy their CDs or recommend the act to anyone, patron or ED.  What makes it all so hard to believe is that I deal with audiences every week all year long in and out of faire and have been doing it for 35 years and that kind of manipulation is always met with audience animosity. 

I'm glad for you that you got out with some dignity and applaud your principle.  I hope you are still performing and enjoying the experience.
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Offline raevyncait

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #33 on: July 28, 2008, 12:30:23 AM »
As I'm not a performer, and have only worked one season selling merchandise for performers, I don't claim to have the inside scoop on anything, however I know what kind of sales we had in a given day, and from the feedback of the band, they were mediocre most weeks, though when we finally got the latest CD in, sales did increase pretty well. Some days are better than others, but I think that's the way it goes in any business.

That being said, I have seen groups that, in my opinion, I wouldn't give a cent to, in fact, I go out of my way to avoid them.  I find them to be brash, obnoxious, and in general, mediocre at their craft, at best. Their instrumentation or schtick may be something that I enjoy in other groups, but these just drive me crazy.  Yet, every time I've seen them, performing at gate or in an open area (I avoid the stages at which they perform), the crowd is so thick you can't even see the performers.  Everybody has different tastes, I suppose, and not everybody can be Don Juan & Miguel, The Rogues, Fool Hearty, Zilch, or Tartan Terrors. 
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Offline Nevik

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #34 on: July 28, 2008, 12:35:07 AM »
Hypothetical Question:  Where do you find audiences that dumb?

Not only would I not tip for that kind of act, I wouldn't buy their CDs or recommend the act to anyone, patron or ED.  What makes it all so hard to believe is that I deal with audiences every week all year long in and out of faire and have been doing it for 35 years and that kind of manipulation is always met with audience animosity. 

I'm glad for you that you got out with some dignity and applaud your principle.  I hope you are still performing and enjoying the experience.

It isn't so much about the audience being dumb.  They really only want a show, something to pass time, to lighten the load, to misdirect thoughts away from whatever is on their minds.  You don't have to be a rocket scientist to provide the audience with that.  Look at how many people waste time watching TV, YouTube videos, etc.  It doesn't necessarily have to be a quality piece of entertainment, does it?

Re: Manipulation - I think it depends on the package, the manipulator, style, technique, and so on.  If you look at the Billboard 100 for example, you will find quite a few "entertainers" who seem to have nothing to offer, but yet they are still in the top 100.  As an example...do you really think Britney Spears is talented enough to warrant her position?  Do you think it's the power of marketing?  If you and I both feel she has nothing to offer, why is it that she is rich and has sold millions of records?  Even if the message is overt, it still works.

Put yourself in the audience for a moment.  The band comes out, plays a tune (so-so performance), says something sort of funny, cranks out another tune, says something else sort of funny, does a CD pitch while mentioning tips, plays two more tunes, pitches the CD's and tips again, plays one last tune, then storms the audience, mentioning tips and CD's for sale.  The crowd is caught up in the hijinks, has been "trained" to buy and tip, and does so.  They tip the "character" they like best (usually the "cute" one or the funniest one or one that appears to have any talent).  They buy the CD (or CDs) as an impulse purchase to capture a piece of novelty.  Would you tip because you thought they were entertaining, despite not being that great?  Would you feel cheated if you didn't know about the formula mentioned in the previous post?  You might not even realize the inner-workings and motivations.  Instead you see a band playing music, making jokes, and collecting tips.

You mention audience animosity - There are those people who hate performers who beg for tips (self included).  They simply won't tip.  There are those who hate commercials.  They simply won't buy.  They aren't the targets.  You wouldn't focus on them anyway.  There are those who don't like pretty boys or girls.  They can key on another performer who looks more like they do.  Remember what I said about having a "character" for everyone to connect with?  That's a very old formula...even the Marx Brothers are said to have used it.  Anyway, when it came time to pay out at the end of the day, it was jokingly called "negative reinforcement."

I must admit being surprised that you wouldn't see or suspect this sort of behavior in business.  If you take a look at yourself, you probably make some kind of effort to get paid to do what you love (playing music).  Maybe you ask for more money.  Maybe you dress better to land a particular job.  Maybe you attend schools to increase your knowledge to empower yourself.  Some people are happy with just enough to get by and are happy.  Others seem to desire more money for many reasons.  Maybe you would love to have one of those large bus/RV's to travel from festival to festival.  What are you willing to do to get it?  Where do you draw the line?  What is acceptable?

I've worked with hucksters, hacks, and even one who I would consider to be genius.  The genius died at the age of 20.  The hucksters are still alive, working at festivals you may attend.  You've probably tipped them.

Thank you for discussing this difficult issue.  Take care, play from the heart, and enjoy life.

Offline Nevik

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2008, 12:43:37 AM »
That being said, I have seen groups that, in my opinion, I wouldn't give a cent to, in fact, I go out of my way to avoid them.  I find them to be brash, obnoxious, and in general, mediocre at their craft, at best. Their instrumentation or schtick may be something that I enjoy in other groups, but these just drive me crazy.  Yet, every time I've seen them, performing at gate or in an open area (I avoid the stages at which they perform), the crowd is so thick you can't even see the performers.  Everybody has different tastes

I couldn't agree more.  Taste in entertainment is as subjective as taste in food.  I like Zilch too.  :-)

Offline trevor ylisaari

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #36 on: July 29, 2008, 09:02:46 AM »
Nevik,

Hypothetical Question:  Where do you find audiences that dumb?

Not only would I not tip for that kind of act, I wouldn't buy their CDs or recommend the act to anyone, patron or ED.  What makes it all so hard to believe is that I deal with audiences every week all year long in and out of faire and have been doing it for 35 years and that kind of manipulation is always met with audience animosity. 

I'm glad for you that you got out with some dignity and applaud your principle.  I hope you are still performing and enjoying the experience.

I've seen plenty of these audiences.
Here at GLMF we used to have a 3 person comedy team.
Their half hour show slot was at least 15 minutes of hawking to buy their T-shirts, DVDs, and give them tips. Both before and after the show.
Their show, while amusing, wasn't that great, and did not hold up to repeat viewings. At least not for me.
They were loud and very agressive at bringing in the audience. So much so, that it was a nuiscance in other areas of the faire.
They were basically anti-social other than during show time. Never stopped to visit with fans, or hang out in accessable areas like most of the performers do.
They always packed their audence.
Got tons of tips.
And sold lots of merchandise.

I and most of the regulars were actually glad when they were not asked back a few years ago.
But we still get patrons asking if they will be back next season all the time.

I could easily see them pulling down those kinds of numbers at a larger faire in a more affluent area like Texas or California.

Offline anne of oaktower

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #37 on: July 29, 2008, 12:33:19 PM »
To everyone else; we all make what we are worth to the owner and there is no standard.  You can't say any particular kind of act  gets paid more than any other kind.  If a musical act is good, and by that I mean entertaining musically and in presentation, they will be paid accordingly.  Same for any other kind of act.  Sit in the privy and fart sonatas and if the audience likes it, it will be paid well and receive tips.  Have the best garb and a very polished banter and sing off key and you won't be back.  It's as simple as that.  Most people know what sounds good or makes them laugh or cry or be amazed and our job is to get those reactions and how well we do that should be in ratio to what we are paid. 

Now I'm going to go and practice farting Beethoven's Pathetique for my new act.

Can't wait for your next show...this oughta be good!  I'll be there, but you'll excuse me, of course, if I'm sitting in the back row...with a fan ;)

btw:  I've seen a few acts who should have been locked in the privies!  Talk about stink!

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Offline temper

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2008, 09:36:48 AM »
Think I commented about this on the old board but here we go...

I often won't tip acts (usually because I'm too busy prepping our act and I don't get to see them) at faires where I'm performing but I *will* offer water, bring by food or offer shade (more than once we've arrived at a large field and our own tent was the only shade offered to performers)

Our group only charges tips for the Fire Show. People have suggested that we should ask at other of our acts and here is my thinking:
Kids Acts: this is where we break egos of our performers, put on the sheep hat and get out there. In addition, parents have so many others costs, we don't want to add to that. We'd rather interact with the kids -no pressure.
Historical show- this is my baby and I feel that asking for tips is "dirty" for my academic work.
Tournaments-we're part of the atmosphere, tips would break that

But the Fire show? It's expensive for us and we aren't kidding when we say "please contribute to our fuel and burn cream fund" We don't stand in the crowd, we let them come by as they like and we will still be nice to those that don't tip. They paid to get in.  I've never been to a busker event and I understand hustling for hat. I've also worked as a waitress. Waiting tables I would get offended at no tip because that was personalized service.  I *love* doing shows and cut my teeth doing museum presentations so the tip thing never occurs to me  :P
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Offline aerial angels

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2008, 12:45:23 AM »
There are three parts to being a successful act:

 - Pleasing the owners/clients/entertainment director. The person who pays your check and/or asks you back. It takes an exceptionally farsighted fair owner to book an act they personally don't like just because the audience likes it, and there aren't many of those.

 - Pleasing the audience, so that they buy your merchandise or tip you, or send emails telling the fair they want you back.

 - Being good at what you do.

Each of these three things is important. We'd all like to think/hope/wish that the third element, talent and/or skill is the most important, and I'd certainly weight it more heavily than the other two, but the first two elements count more than we think.

Also - "Being good at what you do" is a broader category than talent or skill at the stated act. That is, being a *musician* or a *comedian* is a different skill than being an *entertainer.*  And being an *entreprenuer* is another skill, too.

I'm part of a circus/variety act. I am a damn good fire-eater and whip-cracker. I am a so-so aerialist. My show trades on aerials, they're visible, they're high energy, they're something a lot of the audience hasn't seen in person before. My partners and I went and trained at a high-level circus school last year, and there were a lot of people in that gym who were much, much better aerialists than me. But I am a pro doing shows, and they are still students waiting for their coach to say, "OK, now you're good enough to perform." And unless the audience sees us back-to-back, they think I'm a terrific aerialist.

My favorite quotes about doing shows -

"The tricks are an excuse for the audience to spend time with you." - they sit down because we yell "fire-eating!", but fire-eating is a five-second trick. The fire-eating section of our show lasts twelve minutes. The remaining 11:55 is all personality. Cheating. Faking it. Being skilled at audience relationships rather than the music or the stunt.

"You can do ten tricks amazingly well, and the audience will like you. You can do one trick and tell ten jokes and the audience will love you and throw money." See above.

A lot of people slam the Tortuga Twins. Yes, their show has a large chunk of give-us-money, buy-our-merchandise. Yes, they don't have a whole lot of specific skills going on. But they aren't about skill. They are about entertainment. And they are very, very good at that. Tartanic may not have been the world's greatest band, but they made audience members love them and give them money. And the ability to take 300 people who walk up in the heat with turkey legs in their hands and make them sit on benches and feel like they are at the greatest party in the world for thirty minutes is a pretty amazing skill. I don't know Tartanic personally, but I've known the Twins for twenty years, and they put in a lot of hard work and effort to be able to do what they do. Like Nevik points out, someone has to strategize. Someone has to plan. Someone has to make the cd's - of whatever quality - happen. And what separates "us professionals" from "those amateurs" is not talent or ability or musicianship, it's drive. It's the ability to say, you know what? I give myself permission to be an act. And maybe I won't be the most skilled person in my craft, but if the people who are better than me are still in the gym, I'm going to get the audience dollars they aren't even asking for.

It's important to feel good about the product you're selling. And yeah, if you hate your act, get the hell out and make an act you love to do - this life is too hard to spend it hating your work. But "selling" is just as important as "product." No-one can buy your great product if you're a worse salesman than the guy next to you with the crap merchandise, and your message - your art - your work that you believe in and want to share - is lost.

The Twins' webmaster, when asked "What do they do?" has stopped trying to explain their act. His answer:

They create rabid fans.

Offline mistress lilly

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #40 on: September 01, 2008, 07:34:00 PM »
Such an interesting topic that has gone down many paths.

There is so much mention of music and cd's and such. What of t-shirts, which is the only form of merch some acts have?
I have been performing for over a decade now, comedy shows, stunt (as in, I will bleed at some point) shows and children's shows. I can tell you that I have had music acts completely trump me in pay, but then it still works out when concidered they need to divide it between multiple members and I didn't.
So much works into a budget than what you *do* on a stage. I would never assume that I should get paid higher because my show has risks. I feel that is completely disrespectful to the hard working musicians with the insanely expensive instruments they expose to the elements and have to maintain. We *all* have risks and expenses as performers. We all calculated those when we decided what type of performance we do. I would much rather be tipped on the level of enjoyment of the show than because I risked something.

The thing is...every single faire is different.
I have done shows that are tip only because they actually pull more in tips than straight pay. I also know some performers who will only do tip shows because of this.
There are split shows, straight pay and tip. It's convenient.
Straight pay is nice always, because as least there is a garuntee of money no matter what. Yet, there is also no chance that you will have a stellar, mind-blowing weekend.
Each has their plusses and minusses, and I don't walk away from an event based solely on if I have to turn a tip or not.

Would I prefer one big tip or several small?
Several small spaced out. If you can give a shout out or set an example by being the first one in, that actually means more to me than the amount you drop because by setting an example, I make more. That helps me out more than an extra $5 would (not that I will dispute an extra $5 mind you! ;) )
I gauge how well we do by the tip we turn vs. people in the audience. We have an estimate we use, if we come in under it then we need to step it up.

I am also an anomoly in that I am a performer with a booth. Over a tip, I prefer you visit my booth. Tell me what you think of the show perhaps pick up something to take home.

Yet, I do not get upset if someone does not tip as I do not know their situation.

At the end of the day, we choose to do this. Don't get me wrong, I'm not all lovey-do-it-for-free but at the heart of it, I chose Ren Faires because I enjoy the "intimacy" of it. I could definately make more money performing elsewhere more frequently (and I do take the other jobs), but it wouldn't be as fun for me to do all the time.  I don't know a single performer who chose this to get rich and have a house in Beverly Hills.
I've heard so many performers complain that someone did not tip or they don't have enough money or.....
My answer to that is always, "Then get out of Ren or get a mundane job."

I love the people. I am grateful when they share our show with us. I am beyond grateful when they tip whatever they can and I am most grateful when they tell us how much they enjoy it.

/soapbox

Offline Mooncalf

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #41 on: September 08, 2008, 08:37:33 AM »
Yes, people tip heavy... If you're getting all ones, you might be doing something wrong.

Anyway, I think I'd prefer that you, the faithful, tip per show.  Although it makes me quite giddy to see a $20 or $50 in the box or hat, those that are on the fence about tipping will leap to the good side, and throw something in.

So, my dear... lead the lemmings off the cliff of joy. :)

Offline Sarai

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2008, 11:22:10 AM »
I've attended Fairs in the past and I'm currently in my first (and hopefully not last) year as a performer at PRF.

After reading all the points in this thread I have to admit that I 100% agree with Terry. After you've put yourself out there to entertain the crowd, when they get up and leave durning or after your show without so much as an acknowledgement that they had a decent time - let alone a tip - it is like they are screaming "you suck!" And then there is the other side of them problem, when you finish and they sit there because they don't want to lose their seat for the *next* show which is the real reason they are there.

In either case I feel like the last girl picked for dodgeball in gym class.

We do ask for tips at the end of our show, but I'm not sure anyone really listens. I wonder, at the hat passing fairs, if people tune it out.

And speaking as someone who used to be a patron, there isn't a very well developed social system to go with the tipping. For example, you know when you go out to dinner that a tip is expected for the waitstaff. So you plan accordingly. But who really considers the reason for that tip? In theory you tip because that waiter is providing you with a service (refilling drinks, taking your order, bringing your food). But who *thinks* about that when they tip? Most people tip because you are *supposed* to tip.

People don't have that same knee jerk reaction when they see performers. After all, we don't tip the movie actors, because we don't actually see them. And we don't tip live theatre because you know those actors are performing and that they have lines and you don't break the 4th wall. This is common knowledge. But there is much less interaction with buskers and street performers in daily life so people aren't trained.

I wonder sometimes if people consider us like they would live theatre: we are characters (after all, we are) but therefore social norms say you don't interfere with the show for mundane things like money. 

I think, too, a performer needs to come up with a clever way to ask for tips. Saying "please tip" doesn't generate the excitment that gets people to tip.

Offline Terry Griffith

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2008, 04:42:37 PM »
Aye, Sarai, asking seems to be the key.  The amount, just like tipping at all, depends on the custom of the faire.  If it is made known that the tradition is to tip, the appreciative audience will.  If they see others tipping a buck each, thats what they will give.  If they see 5s in the hat, they are more likely to throw in a fiver.  All this depends on if the audience thinks the act is worth tipping, of course.

The "hat line" is the most important thing.  It must not be too subtle or too aggressive.  At some faires you can get away with being aggressive, (see Nevik's posts on this thread) but at faires that I have worked a too aggressive hat line will alienate most people.  I like to point out in my hat line that "it has become the tradition at festivals such as this to show your appreciation by leaving a donation in the entertainers mug"  Then I hold up my half gallon sized mug.  That gets a laugh and the point across.  Subtle but not too aggressive.

Another good idea that I keep forgetting to do is to s"prime" the hat or mug with a couple of 5s.  Most people just throw a buck in but some look in to see what others have given.  I also purposely place the mug next to my CDs rather than in front of me so that people see them when they come up to tip.

One more idea;  the whole act doesn't always have to be high energy but it should build to a high point.  I sing Celtic songs and I like to make people emotional after a good laugh.  It's the ups and downs to the extream that people remember.  However, it should build to something high energy and then don't bring them down with the hat line but keep it in the same vain.  Get them applauding and whistling and then yell  it over the applause.  It draws them down to the stage like offering free beer.  Sometimes.
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Offline Lady Nicolette

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Re: Tipping
« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2008, 06:39:57 PM »
One thing that I will do from time to time when I'm tipping performers is to announce that others should follow my example, if the setting is proper for me to do so "Everyone, do as I do!"...It's amazing how many people will laugh and then do just what I've suggested.
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