A few days ago I played a duo gig at a nice upscale bar on the east side of Manhattan. As is becoming more and more rare these days, the gig payed well for the amount of time we played, and we were given dinner and drinks to our heart's content. The staff was appreciative, friendly, and accommodating; as is the norm we left a tip after dinner to show our appreciation. I was somewhat taken aback when it was returned to us. "You guys are working just as hard as we are", was the explanation.
It is my natural inclination to tip servers for drinks and/or meals at venues where I perform. Most of us musicians are prone to tipping, even when we are only given a small discount or, worse yet, are given nothing at all (except for the honor of playing a venue that bands are on a several month-long waiting list to play at). On a recent gig at the Living Room, I played an hour long, well rehearsed set to a packed house and walked away with $20, that being after the bandleader contributed out of his own pocket. I was allowed 1 free beer for my services, and thus walked out with $19, lest I be looked at as an asshole. I think it's fair to assume that the bartender who accepted my Washington made at LEAST three times what I did during that hour, thanks to people who were listening to a set that, when all is said and done, took about 6 hours of my time.
And so, I tip. I'll continue to tip. But it certainly begs the question; when is the last time that you, as a musician, were tipped by a server at the venue in which you played for next to nothing?