Have a better gig & make more money with “song menus.”

Even after you’ve gotten your (literal) act together, you still have to teach the crowd how to behave at your show.

Aside from your stage banter, the best way I know how is to hand out “song menus.”

side a
side b

Every other week or so, I print off $10 worth of these things, and they bring in hundreds of dollars of extra tips.

But they also make the gig a helluva lot more fun, because now the crowd knows that it’s an “anything goes” sort of night, that we want to interact with them, and that we want to play what they want to hear.

Happy crowd, happy band.

Here’s some pointers for making your own:

  • I like the trifold brochure format—it stands up on its own.
  • Here’s a crappy gDoc template to get you started, but you’ll have better luck in Pages or Word.
  • What’s your onstage personality like? Make the song menu reflect that.
  • Don’t be shy about asking for tips — for the most part people are happy to act in accordance with the “rules” of this thing you’ve built, you just have to show them how.
  • No need to put every song you know on there, just the ones that people request the most. Update periodically.
  • Don’t put your usual closing songs on the list or you’ll be singing Friends In Low Places twenty minutes into your first set.
  • Anything you shy away from when you’re sick (or just not warmed up enough) shouldn’t go on the list.
  • Hand these out in person instead of leaving them on the table beforehand — otherwise they get ignored.
  • (If you’re a solo act, take a 30 second break and walk through the room handing them out.)
  • Don’t print too many — I guarantee you’re going to make some changes once you’ve seen how people react to yours. 20 or 30 is plenty.
  • Do you play in a bunch of bands, or in wildly different rooms? Make separate song menus for each repertoire.
  • Experiment! (And if you find some other things we’d all be better off knowing, please leave a comment!)

Happy gigging to you,

Josh