I'm not sure why the staff is waiting on the band though? On a routine gig for me, if I want a drink, I go to the bar on a break and get it myself. I don't consider the band stand an additional table for the waitresses to wait on. What's with the band drinking while playing anyway? I never understood that. Our primary job is to make sure the paying customers are drinking enough to keep the bar happy so they continue to hire us. Is this a memo nobody got?There may be some regional differences here.
If I’m getting the service of the waitstaff, I should expect to tip. Because the venue is definitely not making up for revenue lost to the server who is waiting on me, simply because I’m in the band. So I tip as if I’m a normal customer, because I am, as far as the server is concerned. But it bears mentioning that, because of geography, drinks are typically $6-10, and not $12-20. So I’m not put out financially very much at all. $5 will usually cover it.
In this conversation, it doesn’t seem like anyone is expecting free food, but it’s quite common for me to get 50% off food at a bar gig, locally here in Michigan. Maybe not so much on the coastal parts of the US or abroad?
I would never expect the waitstaff to tip the band. That’s absurd. However — again, geographically — the norm is for the band to make a guaranteed amount, not whatever the door cover charge brings, or a percentage of bar sales (which was commonplace before I started gigging).
Granted, the rules could be very different from venue-to-venue, but in my general case, I'm hired to play and make everybody dance and drink. So on a four-hour gig, I don't need to be fed or given a discount (or free) alcoholic drinks. I look at it in terms of somebody's 8-hour job: I'm only there for a half-day so I don't normally take a lunch on days like that.
But, as a band leader, if the venue tells me what they allow, I gather the players around so they hear it too so they know what they can have (if anything). My players are usually pros and they expect nothing because we're of the same mindset. I do play at a place occasionally that offers a free meal, but in our position, once you start playing, you're working - there's really no time to sit down and eat. So I try to communicate that to the other guys and tell them if they want to eat, either show up early so they can enjoy a meal, or eat afterwards, provided the venue is still open to serving food by then.
Maybe my view is a bit strict, but it's certainly never left anything to question as far as pay is concerned. I'm just of the mindset that I'm there to work. It looks like we're having a party, but it hides the work that's taking place. We're there to make people drink. We're beer salesmen