Handling of tips at a pub session

Handling of tips at a pub session

I’d love some feedback on this please! At our session, a happy listener gave $30 to one of our players for the musicians. We typically have a tip jar on the table for our wait person who brings us free drinks that we give her at the end of the night, and our player put the money in the tip jar. There was some discussion about whether tips for musicians should go to the wait staff. We had 15 players so it would have been about $2 apiece.

Thoughts?

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

You’ve answered your own question… "…that we give her…"
I’m sure some nights there’s next to nothing, swings and roundabouts…anyway $2 each pretty much irrelevant when you’ve all had free drinks.

I’d be happy with what you have … a talent for playing music and an appreciative audience.
:-)

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Tips for session playing? How do I join you?

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Titch, that was pretty much my thought as well.

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Maybe your generous donor misunderstood what the tips jar was for. In those folk pubs I know that have tip jars, the tips are for the musicians. In one session, a crowd of people asked for a particular tune that the session host didn’t know. I did, played it, £5 in the tip jar, but I never saw a penny or one ml of it. On another occasion, even though I wasn’t an official part of the (very small) session, the kind host shared all the tips with me. You win some, you lose some!

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If I may say so - I find it a little odd that you’re asking us. Seems to me that this is strictly an issue for your session, and the only people whose opinions have any validity, are those who attend, or wait on, the session ……

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

> Seems to me that this is strictly an issue for your session

I find it a little odd that every question of this kind attracts a response of this sort. Yes every session is different but asking for opinions is what this place is *for*.

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

https://thesession.org/discussions/23082

Tipping in sessions is a a relatively recent phenomenon in Scotland.
I tried starting a thread about this a wee while ago. See above.

The culture has changed here generally, IMHO. There’s less of of a "round culture" these days or people "standing their hand" and offering to buy drinks for musicians etc. So, maybe, tipping is the natural way to go?

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As mentioned above, there is no standard here, just local convention. I’ve been in sessions where the tip jar (when there is one) is handled in different ways:

- Tip jar, collected by the session leader, and used to fund a yearly party off-site for the session players. That worked okay, but it requires some trust in your session leader.

- No tip jar, but any money dropped on the table went to the wait staff. That was a session where we had our first round of drinks free, and paid after that. It was a good way to stay tight with the house.

- Tip jar, collected by the session leader and never heard from again. Presumably, compensation for making sure there was a monthly session at all. Which I’m okay with, up to a point. The problem I have is that it was never discusses with the group.

My personal opinion is that I’d rather not see a tip jar at all. It just complicates things. If you’re going to put out something that’s obviously a tip jar for donations, then proceeds should be discussed and agreed-on by all session participants. I don’t go to sessions for monetary gain, and I’d rather it go to the wait staff if it’s going anywhere. It feels a bit off, to have it just disappear with the session leader, unless it’s been fully discussed and agreed-on, ahead of time.

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Here in the States, We were the house band for 16 years. We were paid a set fee per player and the addition of 2 drinks per set. We did have a tip jar and this was split amongst the players (including any players that showed up for the night to join in). We would then all chip in a couple of bucks each, to hand to the waitress and barkeep to divide between them, and keeping us supplied with libations. Occasionaly, there was zip in the jar.

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"Thoughts?"

I’m thinking the tip went to the wait person. That is what I’ve inferred from your OP, Lynn.

I’m thinking if I was in your session (which I’m not) I would be fine with the $30 tip going to the wait person. Perfectly fine. If someone(s) in the session (and it’s not my session) wanted to accept some of future tips for session members that is a new matter. If I’m not mistaken this "is" the discussion some members of your session were having at the end of the evening. So I politely ask you, did anyone object to giving all future tips in this session, in this venue to your wait person?

My feedback, if I was in your session, (which I am not) would be to appreciate a good thing. I don’t know what that is in your session. But you do and your fellow session players should. If it was my session a good thing would be good tunes in good company. If you have that and work to sustain that then I’d say you’ll find your answer there. That’s what works for me. But when unexpected changes happen that’s always a challenge in any session.

Cheers!

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

We’ve had a tip jar at our session for many years and we give the majority of our tips to the bartender. She always takes such good care of us and our drinks are free. If we get some huge tip like $100, then we might split some portion of it among the players left at the end of the evening, but that is very rare.

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Seems to be two different scenarios here….

Tips from the musicians for bar staff as opposed to tips from the punters for musicians.

My view is that if the management wishes to have music on the premises, they should pay the musicians either in cash or an agreed amount of food, drink, or both.
If musicians wish to just play for their own enjoyment, that’s fair enough too but they shouldn’t come with any expectations.
As I suggested in my own thread, tip jars and the like just create a grey area and I don’t like the idea of having them in Scottish pub sessions.
Surely musicians can club together more discretely to reward staff if appropriate. Also punters could show appreciation by buying a round or leaving some cash behind the bar for the musicians.
However, the world seems to be changing these days as I already said.

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The tip jar at the session I attend is near the cash register. Our server is great. She often runs her legs off taking care of us and others. I give her a generous tip when I pay for my supper. I want her to know how much I appreciate her service. Some members of the session are on a tight budget so don’t leave much, others are just plain tight.
Sylvia Miskoe

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Are US and UK (and Ireland, I think) pubs sufficiently similar for practice at one to be relevant to the other?

All the UK sessions I have ever been to you get your drinks from the bar and there may be a saucer by the cash register for tips and the occasional personal tip for the person serving.

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Tipping practices have a few common things for comparison. But most of it is far from conventional between, countries or regions and also types of business and even the size of a venue.
The only thing I’ve noticed in common (internationally) is when there is a tip "jar" next to the cash register. That’s all! Even then who gets the tip or how it’s divided you probably don’t know without asking
(except when it’s fairly obvious).
Lynnhayes, there are certain bits of your OP which are so similar to one of our regular sessions I could
almost tell you how we would handle the situation. However there are enough fine details of difference
to say our ways, in our session might not get the same results in yours. Sorry if that is too cryptic. I’m not comfortable generalising about our session and assuming it will be what is best for other sessions.
Having said that I’ll be happy to give you a breakdown of how we handle tips in this one session where
we play twice a month and someone brings a tip jar. Offline I will (if you ask). Sorry for not going public
but that is my firm conviction.

Ben

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Heh heh, it is interesting how these things vary with region. We don’t have a strong tipping culture in Australia - we expect (culturally and legally) that the premises will pay the staff a decent, livable wage. A few international franchises here have come under fire recently for paying and working overseas visiting students at slave-labour rates and conditions.

Probably consequently, we don’t often receive gratuities at sessions, but I was in one last week where a youngish chap came up, slapped $100 on the table and said "I’m buying the next round". Our session organiser took orders and came back with a tray-full of drinks and enough change for a second round later. Sadly, I had an hour’s highway driving ahead of me, so I stopped at one.

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If you don’t mind me saying so; Cheers, Terry. I never drink and drive. But I respect your decision to
have one drink. I only wish everyone was able to balance a full night of sessioning as well as yourself.
$100?! Your session must be one of Australia’s best. Regardless of that though; keep playing that session.
;)

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Heh heh, then there was the session in a pub in Bredbo when the late and very well seasoned Ulick O’Boyle fell into another player’s guitar, punching a neat hole in it.

Alas, we don’t normally get $100 notes foisted on us.

[Turns to public and announces: "but we wouldn’t complain!"]

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

"Waiting" is a also a more recent phenomenon at sessions here too. In the old days, the "tunes" were mostly held in basic pubs or lounges and the musicians and punters would buy their drink at the bar. Of course, the bar staff might occasionally collect glasses but there has always been a "folky tradition" where musicians and singers return glasses to the bar themselves so as they are less likely to be interrupted.

There’s not as many traditional pubs now and many sessions are held in restaurants or dining areas of bars after the meals have finished. Sadly, most "working men’s pubs" that remain prefer to show Sky Sport and the like rather than host a pub session.
:-(

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Johnny, what are (or were) working men’s pubs?

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Basically, your old "spit and sawdust" or similar very basic places where manual workers would meet after a day’s toil. Women didn’t frequent pubs as much and, when they did, they might go into the lounge or snug. Of course, That’s very much a sterotype and generalisation too. These days, most people would just refer to a "working man’s pub" as somewhere which wasn’t particularly posh.

However, you could probably say that drink as opposed to food and entertainment was the main attraction although pub games such as darts, dominoes etc might be popular.

Nowadays, I’d rather use the term "traditional style bar" rather than "working man’s pub" but whatever you call them, they are on the decline. I miss the small snugs and corners which were ideal for sessions and even the most basic pubs are frequently being "knocked into one big room".

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Further to above, some of the more popular and long established session venues in Edinbugh e.g. Sandy Bells, Royal Oak, Hebrides, Captain’s Bar are still fairly basic and traditional although no longer the sole preserve of manual workers as such.
However, many sessions are also now held in more trendier and "foodie" places which just don’t have the same atmosphere.

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Thank you, Johnny.
"I miss the small snugs and corners which were ideal for sessions and even the most basic pubs are frequently being "knocked into one big room"." I’m with you there.

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

In our traditional style pub we buy our own drinks and get a tip from a punter about every other year. So we don’t have to think about how to spend it that often. Probably a round of drinks.

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Indiana here, in the USA. Unlike in Australia, mentioned above, premises are not required to actually pay staff a living wage, and so the staff earns their living from tips. This fact is probably known to most reading this, as is the fact that this system does not exist in other places. So, we tip our server well at our local session.

That being said, when somebody else puts money on the table, we split it among the musicians. In any other situation I can think of, if people are playing music and somebody else put money down, it would be understood the money was for the musicians.

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I am always a bit uncomfortable with a tip jar at a session - that’s not why we’re there, and so we don’t put one out. But one of my sessions seems to get a lot of tips (both in the form of rounds of drinks, but also in cash). A few years ago, that session started pooling our tips, because the pub was approached (blindsided?) by ASCAP and BMI to pay royalties on the music performance, and I’ve seen that be the end of sessions before. So we decided to pool our tips so that we could help pay the fees. Fortunately, the success of the session has increased dramatically. It’s the pub’s busiest night of the week, and people that want to eat dinner in the room where we play often have to arrive an hour early if they want to be near the music. So the pub has been able to handle the fees just fine on their own.

So we take our pooled tips, and use them for other purposes. For instance, we keep copies of the Field Guide to the Irish Music Session on hand, which we can offer to a newcomer that is being disruptive. We use the money to offer Uber rides to players that need it. We’ve chipped in to help a box player get their reeds tuned. We’ve used it as part of a guarantee to help bring well known players in, etc. And occasionally we’ll augment our tips to the wait staff, etc. What we don’t generally do is stick it in our pockets, which would be fine, but it’s nice to have the collective money stashed for when we might need it for something.

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Beautiful, Reverend, beautiful.

Music can degrade to being a competitive sport. Sometimes even a contact sport. Your account illustrates the opposite approach. Part of the solution, not part of the problem.

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@Reverend, I love this "So we take our pooled tips, and use them for other purposes. For instance, we keep copies of the Field Guide to the Irish Music Session on hand, which we can offer to a newcomer that is being disruptive. We use the money to offer Uber rides to players that need it. We’ve chipped in to help a box player get their reeds tuned. We’ve used it as part of a guarantee to help bring well known players in, etc. And occasionally we’ll augment our tips to the wait staff, etc. What we don’t generally do is stick it in our pockets, which would be fine, but it’s nice to have the collective money stashed for when we might need it for something."

It’s highly unusual for us to get tips from an appreciative public but this seems a good way to handle it.

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Somebody gave us cake a few weeks ago - does that count?

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Hope you shared it with the bar staff, Ebor? Or did you just leave the crumbs in the tip jar?

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So the jar isn’t for your cigarette ends then? "I have my doubts…."

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At the Blythe it is free drinks for properly contributing players.

Mostly a glass of water for me.

Occasionally a patron will put a fiver or a tenner on the table. I don’t know, nor am bothered to know, where it goes. I’m hoping it ends up in the hands of of a more needy session member. But not me.

Maybe I should start looking out, I have been poor in the past, but not now, but who knows, maybe I could be again sometime soon…..

Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

Nae relevant in Aiberdeen. :(

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Re: Handling of tips at a pub session

:) @Kenny. Same here, we pay for our own drinks too.

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I think I need to move back to Colorado….. It sounds so warm and fuzzy and nice.

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You SHOULD move back to Colorado, Doc! You can never have too many pipers! (he says, sarcastically ;-))