Here is something for musicians, bands and singers that is worse than bad tippers.
My musician friend Island Eric Stone had this happen to him the other day.
He was playing a gig in a small Florida harbor hangout bar when a guy walked up with money in his hand and PRETENDED to put it in the tip jar, only to keep walking and place the bill back in his pocket.
I had never heard of that slimeball trick before and it sucks! Upon seeing this, someone else at the bar walked up and deposited a Jackson in Eric’s tip jar. It would have been appropriate if management had deposited the slimeball out onto the street (or, better yet, into the harbor) but it’s not the bar’s responsibility to monitor a musician’s tips. Or lack thereof in this case. I do wonder if he stiffed his server, too. Probably.
Apparently, from comments on Eric’s Facebook post, it’s not all that uncommon of a practice. “Happens more than you would think” one person posted.
Apparently because there’s even a term for it: palming. “I’ve heard even more stories of this palming thing happening more often to bartenders,” Stone said.
Listen folks, musicians make much of their money on tips from gigs. Bars don’t pay much – only a couple hundred dollars for three-plus hours in many cases – and those tips help singers and bands to make a living. They must pay for their equipment, often CDs which they sell at ridiculously low prices ($10, usually) and maybe some merch like a hat.
Eric has written a few books – Blue Waters – and has developed an extra source of income as a result but other musicians and band members either play an exhausting schedule of gigs (two or three in one day in different bars is not uncommon) or have “real” jobs. So for someone to do fake tipping is a low move that defies description.
I have listened to more bands than I can possibly remember because I love live music. If I like the band and stay for a full or even much of a set, I tip. This could be $5 or it could be $20. It depends on how long I stay and how much I like the band. If I want to request a song, I’ll drop a tip into the jar or open guitar case; that always gets their attention.
The same goes for anyone in the service industry. Bartenders, waiters and waitresses get paid minimum wages (if that) and their economic survival is based on tips. I’ve been a tour guide and the same applied to that job. I’ve seen a few low tricks, too; one involved a customer, after taking a four-hour driving tour, folded up money really tight to make it appear as if he were handing a lot of cash and placed it into my hand rather than just handing it to me. It was a $5 bill.
Some just don’t tip at all. They must think it’s included in the price of the tour. It’s not. It always seemed to be the richest people that did not tip, too.
One time, I picked up a loud Texas couple at an $800-night hotel and drove them around for seven hours. “We like nice stuff” they said and bragged about having a condo on a Lone Star beach. I even took them to a famous local tequila store where they walked out with two bags of booze. At the end of the long day, when I dropped them off, they just walked away from me. I called them back to get their purchase, thinking they would reward me with a tip, but again they turned their back and disappeared. I should have kept their tequila!
These days not every person has cash so I started a Venmo account. Several musicians do this, too, and many – like Island Eric – have a QR code in which to tip them.
Island Eric plays music of the Jimmy Buffett lifestyle. Laid-back beach bar stuff. He’s traveled all over the world and is a regular on the Florida boat show circuit. So he’s quite good and is a well-respected musician. He – and other singers – deserve tips.
What he and others in the music and service industry don’t deserve are fake tipping jerks. If you witness this then say something to the slimeball. It may not change their behavior but my guess is they don’t want to be called out because they want to impress whomever is with them and maybe they won’t do it again.