Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig


Chloe's Coffee in Gaithersburg, MD

Here’s a follow-up to last week’s post: Making the Most of Your Club Gig.
So, coffeeshops are great, but you probably won’t make a whole lotta mula.  Well, it all really depends. Even if you don’t, playing coffeeshops has huge perks that you won’t get from a club.  Here are some thoughts on the matter.

Learn the Community.
Coffeeshops are known for their presence in the community. Take advantage of this. Make the most of the location by reaching out to be people who live around the corner instead of your whole fanbase. It’s a little less work and you’ll probably get more of a response from the locals. And hopefully the coffeeshop will buy into your approach since they exists for their locals.

Have Fun!
Community is almost synonymous with coffeeeshops these days.  The great things about these types of shows is that pressure is usually low. People are there to spend time with each other and exist in a place when others are…even if they’re not talking to anyone. All this to say, don’t take yourself too seriously. Talk with your audience and have fun. Keep it laid back. If you can, make it feel like your living room.

The More the Merrier
Considering that most coffeehouse gigs don’t pay, go ahead and put more people on the bill. Invite 7 songwriters out and do an in-the-round event. You’ll get a great turnout if everyone tells a few people and you don’t have the stress of splitting $10 between 7 people. hehe.

Don’t forget to have a Tip Jar
Be nice and remind people that you are a working artist and that you would appreciate their support. You can pass the hat as well. You’d be surprised at how some people make a decent killing off tips (sometimes that depends on the neighborhood).

Just Because You’re A Band…
Doesn’t mean you can’t play in coffeeshops. Some of them are fine with full bands.  You can do an unplugged set, a setup with 1/2 of your band, or just tone things down a bit.

The Ugly Side of Coffeeshops
A few things that make coffeeshops hard…

  • That grinder. There’s nothing worse than trying to compete with that blendy thing. Make sure the stage you’re playing on in’t right beside the front counter. I just had this experience and it was miserable.
  • All ages venues can sometimes mean young kids with nothing better to do and nowhere else to be. Ask them questions to make them part of your show. This will keep them engaged.
  • Everyone isn’t there for music. Some people are there to study…so don’t always expect everyone to close the laptop or stop your conversations and give you their full attention. Its the nature of the beast.

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3 Comments on “Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig”

  1. Darryl Says:

    As a performer who plays in coffeeshops a lot and who loves to play in that type of establishment I can concur that these venues have their ups & downs, but mostly ups. One of my biggest realizations about playing these places is that you must immediately establish a rapport with the barista. Be nice to them and they’ll support you, give you free food and maybe even help you pass the hat.

    I recently wrote an open letter to all coffeehouse venues that compliments this posting quite well.
    Here’s the link –> http://wp.me/p-8z

    Thanks for the great blog Grassrootsy!

    Darryl


  2. […] Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig « Grassrootsy […]


  3. […] shops.  Coffee shops can really make for good gigs when you find the right one. See:  ”Making the Most of Your Coffeeshop Gig“. Just because you’re not playing “real” venues doesn’t mean you […]


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