Coordinating Live Music
As a restauranteur, you know that you provide so much more than a meal. When your guests choose your restaurant, they come for the experience, and you want to give them the best one you can. And the best way to give them the best experience is to pay attention to your atmosphere- lighting, decor, and even silverware and placemats can leave your guests feeling welcome, merry, and, dare we say-hungry.
Music is and forever will be a foolproof way to keep up your restaurant’s energy and mood and give a sense of escape and grandeur. Up until recently, restaurants have been relying only on Spotify playlists or Pandora for their signature ambiance. But with COVID cases decreasing and places opening back up, live music seems to be a viable option for restaurants once more.
But with a limited budget and perhaps expertise, how can you incorporate live music into your space while ensuring guests feel safe and welcome? Here’s how to coordinate live music for your restaurant with minimal money and just a bit of effort.
Survey Your Current Guests
Before making any changes to your restaurant’s experience, take a look around to gauge what kind of audience you’re already attracting. Are your guests wearing masks the whole time, or are they a bit less intimidated about the current COVID situation? Do they gravitate towards your outdoor seating? Do they tend to linger, or do they hit the road once they sign the check?
Once you get a feel for where your guests are coming from and what they’re comfortable with, try engaging in an open conversation with them about how they would feel about incorporating live music into their dining experiences. You could even share a poll on Facebook or Instagram to gauge what percentage of your guests (or at least the tech-savvy ones) would be excited about the prospect of live music. You could even reiterate the new sense of normalcy live music would bring, along with the unique intimacy in-person bands or singers could offer. Music, after all, is primarily for your customers’ benefit, so make sure they’ll enjoy the addition of live music as much as you will!
Assess Your Live Music Options
It’s no secret that booking talented individuals with expensive equipment doesn’t come cheap. But getting a live band or two shouldn’t make you bankrupt, either! When researching live music, look to social media before Spotify- you can often search for bands in your city that’ll play for much less than wider known groups. It never hurts to send a few DMs to local musicians in your niche. And don’t limit yourself to just one genre! An Irish pub could gain just as much traction from a klezmer group as you would from a traditional Celtic band (that is if you’re lucky enough to find a klezmer group).
Once you have a few groups in mind, try orchestrating (no pun intended) meet-ups in real life or by zoom to see if your potential music is a good fit for your place. After all, you’re providing as much of an opportunity to them as they are to you!
Put Everything Into Place
Once you know what kind of music you’d like at your venue and when you treat your music like a marathon and not a sprint. To make sure things go smoothly, your guests are delighted, and you get a fair price for your proposed band, make sure you communicate your standards and expectations well beforehand. Ask yourself what you and your restaurant stand for, and make sure those values shine through your live entertainment. Should your performers abstain from any suggestive material? Or is your target audience mature enough to handle an occasional four-letter word?
After you communicate your values, establish your promises and keep to your word. How much will you pay your band? When and how will you pay them? After the fact, make it clear whether or not you’ll be inviting your talent back. Clear is kind!
With a bit of ingenuity and strategic planning, re-establishing (or establishing) live music in your restaurant could be just the boost your guests need to keep coming back. So by surveying what your guests enjoy and are comfortable with, seeing what local talent could accommodate those desires, and following a logical pattern to implement music into your venue, your place will be jumping with tunes before you know it. With enough communication and creativity, you have the power to bring life into any business, and the right musicians will want to help you with that goal.