how to get tips from band gigs

The Secret to Making More Tips From Your Band Gigs

how to get tips from band gigs

Does your band play at weddings or corporate events where you deal directly with your clients? And do you live somewhere where tipping is common practice for service-based businesses? If yes, you will want to read on to see how to best leverage tipping as an additional income stream for your business.

Tipping isn't something most bandleaders think about when they consider their various revenue streams. Generally, it's just one of those 'nice to have' perks that might come your way every so often, but there has never really been any method to control it.

In this post, we're going to show you the secret to getting more tips from your band gigs and just how much more money you might be able to make. 

How To Get More Tips

Obviously, your band needs to sound great, be entertaining, and be so easy to deal with that your client is eager to show their gratitude. But there are two important factors that plays a huge role in whether or not someone will leave you a tip:

1. Ask For The Tip at the Right Time

Let's talk timing. 

If you ask you clients to pre-pay for you services, in other words, pay your full performance fee prior to the gig, the likelihood of you getting a tip is very small. After all, they haven't experienced your service yet and have no reason to tip.

In this scenario, you're just hoping that your client(s) are walking around their event with pocketfuls of cash, ready to drop you handsome tip. Not likely.

So, when do you ask for payment in order to maximize your likelihood of receiving a tip?

We recommend this strategy for timing your client payments:

  1. 25% deposit due when the gig is booked
  2. 75% remaining balance due on the day after the gig

time client payments to maximize tips

Most pro bands want assurance that their client won't cancel, so it's always a good idea to require a non-refundable deposit upon signing of the contract. Your client will be less likely to cancel it they know they'll be loosing that money.

As for the remaining balance, if you make this due the day after the booking, you give yourself the opportunity to 'earn' the tip. Your band gets a chance to shine, you get the chance to treat your client(s) like royalty and at the end of it all, you send them the final bill. At this point, they'll be much more likely to consider a tip.

2. Make the Tipping Process Easy for Your Clients

Making it easy for your clients to tip boils down to two main criteria:

  1. You accept forms of payment that are quick and easy (credit cards!)
  2. Your invoice payment workflow does the tip math for them

how to make tipping easy for customers

Let's start with the second point first. No one likes doing math. Your invoice software should have an easy way for your clients to calculate their tip right when they're making their payment.

Asking for a tip needs to be a subtle option, and yet convenient enough that your client can do it seamlessly as part of your payment procedure. 

If you are using Back On Stage to manage your band's client invoices and contracts, your clients will see a tip option whenever they go to make invoice payments:

If you use another invoicing software, make sure you enable its tipping feature so your clients see the tip option when they pay you.

Now, what forms of payment should you accept?

Cash, cheque (check) or credit card are the most popular options, but there's a problem with cash and cheque:

Cash and cheque (check) payments add significant friction to your checkout process. In fact, they remove the buyer from your payment experience completely which results in more of their precious time being spent on tedious accounting tasks that they don't enjoy. And guess what, that makes them less likely to tip you!

Credit cards are the fastest and easiest way for your clients to pay you. Plus, your clients often collect points when they use their cards, which makes them happy. And the happier they are with you and your process, the more likely they are to tip!

The Best Way To Collect Credit Card Payments for Band Gigs

If you're not using invoice software like Back On Stage to bill your clients, sign up for a 30-day free trial today. Invoices are generated automatically using your gig details and all you need to do is click a button to send it to your client.

Back On Stage integrates with your PayPal account to facilitate credit card payments - so when your client pays your invoice, the money is available in your PayPal account instantly. 

Below is a screenshot of the Back On Stage "Client Portal", which is a secure place where you client can make invoice payments and review/sign their contract - all electronically. Note the tip option and the big blue "Pay Now" button, which make it simple and easy for your clients to tip you and send you their money:

back on stage client portal - band gig invoice and payment processor

Most invoicing software will offer a similar option to allow you to accept credit card payments from your clients, but nothing makes it quite as easy as Back On Stage. Back On Stage is an app specifically designed to handle you band management tasks, like performance contracts, client invoices, payment processing and much more!

>> Watch a Demo Of Back On Stage App Now << (You won't regret it!)

What About Credit Card Fees?

We thought you'd never ask! (chuckles)

Yes, there are fees involved whenever you run a credit card transaction. Most credit card processors charge 2.9% on the transaction amount, plus a $0.30 fee for each transaction.

But don't be alarmed! We've analyzed over 100 transactions from several bands using Back On Stage and we've got some good news for you...

Clients who pay with credit cards are over 8 times more likely to tip!   

We looked at over 120 band gigs from several different bands using Back On Stage App and while only 6.7% of clients tipped when paying with cash, cheque (check) or eTransfer, a whopping 55% of clients chose to tip when using their credit card to make the payment.

customers are more likely to tip with credit card

Those numbers paint a pretty clear picture: if you want to earn tips from your band gigs, credit cards and an easy tipping option at checkout are the way to go!

Why do clients paying with credit card tip more often?

We haven't studied the psychology on this formally, so we can only speculate. But what we believe is that when a client uses your Back On Stage client portal (seen below) to make a payment on their invoice for your band's performance services, the tip option is made very clear and its easy for even the laziest people with little to no math skills to add a tip and send you a payment.

Just look how easy it was to add a 15% tip to the bill in that checkout transaction seen above! 

This is not the case when someone chooses to pay with cash, cheque or eTransfer. In this process, the buyer just sees your invoice total, then leaves your checkout experience to go write their cheque or count their cash. If they're not paying you online, there's no need for them to use your checkout procedure, so they're unlikely to fiddle around with your tip option and/or feel any kind of pressure to tip you.

Think about it. Let's say you hired a band to play at YOUR wedding and the bill was $4,300. They are requesting that you pay them with cash or cheque on the day of the gig. How much would you pay them?

If it were me, I'd probably write a cheque for $4,300 a few days early and give it to my wedding planner to hand over to the band on the big day. Since the band hasn't performed yet, I have no idea if their performance is tip-worthy anyway. Additionally, this is probably my first wedding, and I haven't hired a band before, so I'm not even sure what the general tipping protocol is for a band, so I assume it's not really necessary. 

On my wedding day, I'm too drunk to be thinking about money anymore, so it doesn't even cross my mind to give you more money at the end of the night.

And there you have it. The reason you will almost never get a tip unless you use our methods outlined above!

How Much Do People Tip A Band?

This really depends on where you are in the world and whether or not tipping is part of your local culture. In North America, we have observed that most clients who tip a band, tip between 7% and 17%, with an average tip being roughly 10% of the total bill amount.

Will Tip Amounts Be Enough To Offset Credit Card Fees?

credit card in hand

In our experience, tips you receive from using a checkout process like the one in Back On Stage app and letting your clients pay with credit card won't just offset your credit card fees, but you'll still come out with more money in the end too.

Let's look at this example:

Your band charges $4,300 for a show and you do 25 shows per year.

The Credit Card Example:

Using Back On Stage to invoice your clients and letting them pay with credit card, we can assume that 55% of your clients (roughly 14 of them) will give you a 10% tip ($4,300 x 10% = $430).

14 clients X $430 = $6,020
25 gigs X $4,300 X 2.9% credit card fee = $3,117.50
Net tip amount = $2,902.50

The Non-Credit Card Example:

Using your own method to invoice your clients and letting them pay with cash, cheque or eTransfer, we can assume just 6.7% of your clients (roughly 2 of them) will give you a 10% tip.

2 clients X $430 = $860
Net tip amount = $860

Conclusion: You'll make almost 3.5 Times More Tip Revenue By Accepting Credit Cards

make 3.5 times more tip revenue by accepting credit cards

Now comes the fun part! Run these numbers for your own band and see how much extra money you could make from enabling credit cards in your billing process, and maybe even switching over to Back On Stage to manage your gig invoices better! 

Make a calculation and write it down. Next year, take a look through your records and see if they align with our data in this article! Let us know in the comments below!


  • Bill your clients 25% for deposit and 75% the day after the gig
  • Make it easy for them to pay you with credit cards
  • Make it easy for them to calculate a tip in your checkout process
  • Clients paying with credit cards are 8 times more likely to tip
  • The average tip for a wedding or event band is around 10%
  • You'll make 3.5 times more tip revenue by accepting credit card payments. Credit card processing fees you pay will easily be offset by the tips you earn. 

About The Author

reuben avery bandleader and musician

Reuben Avery

Reuben is one of the co-founders at Back On Stage and is also a bandleader and musician. When he's not busy dreaming up ways to streamline the live music industry's inner workings, he enjoys performing with his 9-piece event band, practicing his trumpet and spending quality time with his wife and cat.


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