I am sure I do not haveto tell you that sometimes these jobs are booked through talent agencie-not all. I would just taget the ones that you think you would do best in and find out the name of the manager, or the person that makes these decision and just present what ever your press package or website it you are on to them. I have even done lunch hours once or twice aweek at some very popular diners that catered to politicians
30 years ago there were harpists playing in restaurants and hotels all over the place. These were virtually full time jobs. Some hotels in New York City had harp 7 nights a week, with the job held by one harpist who used subs a lot so she didn’t kill herself at the job. That lasted maybe into the mid-1990’s and then disappeared fast. Maybe it’s time for harpists to start pushing for those kinds of jobs again. The thing is, if it is a regular gig, it doesn’t pay at the same rate as a one-off background music job, like a wedding. it pays much less per hour. But sometimes this is offset by the fact that you get a lot of exposure which leads to teaching, wedding gigs, and heaven knows what else.
There was a woman in the Boston area for years who frankly couldn’t play for &*%^$(you get the idea). But she knew how to promote herself and schmooze with people, and she played a couple nights a week in two different supermarkets in high end neighborhoods! and she got lots of wedding jobs from that. Ask the hotel to give you a try, and maybe give them a one shot bargain rate just to let them know what you add to the dining experience.
Pretty much what Carl said. I would add that if its quiet on the gig front right now its probably quiet on the catering front as well in these economic times. Any restaurant owner would be wary about lowering their profit margin just for the sake of having some nice live music. I would suggest if you want a gig like this that you go in with a low price (maybe even suggest something like a sliding pay scale depending on how many diners there are) and a strategy of how you are going to promote that you are there. After all they are only going to go for this if they get more people through the door, as dreadful as this sounds they probably won’t put you on just to give their clients a “better” experience (even if this might eventually lead to more clients – these people generally only think short term).
So maybe approach them with an idea of how you can make a YouTube video featuring you playing in their restaurant or tell them how you can alter your rep to fit theme nights, if they want to do hungarian night or italian night etc.
The other thing is, as for saturday night, if its their busiest night and its hard to get a table, then they are unlikely to need you there to get more people in. So maybe push for a short day spot or a midweek time and like I said, show them that you are prepared to go out and promote it somehow (facebook, twitter, walking around with a sandwich board whatever).
As for what kind of price to charge, you need to go in low as I said. If there are other musicians in your area doing this kind of work, don’t undercut them though. In the long run its better to knock back the gigs than do that.
My thoughts only, I don’t expect everybody to agree with me here.
The other thing I forgot to mention is that you may have more luck if the restaurant is part of another business, ie if its attached to a hotel (same ownership) or other things going on, that way the business has more income streams and may be more willing to take the risk.
If they say no (most say no) just ask straight out if they know of anywhere else that you might be able to work. This has got me more than one gig in the past.
Good luck with it Emily.
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