Using local performing talent at your restaurant can be a fantastic way to draw in some extra customers. But if you’re going to do it, you need to get it done right. Far too many people get the idea that they can simply ask any old band to play, or even worse that they can offer “exposure”, and the live music will come rolling in.
That could not be further from the truth!
First and foremost, you shouldn’t just assume that local bands will play for free, for the “exposure”. If you can’t afford to hire a band, then don’t try to hire a band. By trying to offer exposure, you may think you’re saving on costs. But all you’re really doing is insulting the musicians. After all, would you offer free meals to people for “exposure” on the hopes that your name will get out there and it will bring in business? Of course you wouldn’t! That would be a quick way to go out of business!
Music is no different. These bands are trying to make a living. They deserve to get paid for their time and their training.
That said, you could get local talent to perform at your restaurant while saving money by making it an event. For example, hire a live band on your busiest night. On other nights, offer “amateur performances“. Allow people who want to perform, but aren’t trying to make a living at doing so, to play for your customers. The quality of the performances will be quite varied, of course. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and get a great performance. Most of the time, you’ll get amateurs who perform as a hobby, with all that that implies.
Another alternative to music is local dancers and dance companies. Whether they supply back up dancers to your singers and bands, or they are the show themselves, this can be an affordable option that is just as entertaining. There are more amateur dancers that will perform for little to no pay, than musicians or bands, plus, it is a great way to showcase local talent while diversifying your performances also.
Still, it’s a question of whether or not you want high quality talent. If you want quality, you’ll pay for it. If you don’t want to pay for it, then you don’t want quality.