Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret: Go For It And Try Starting A Piano Bar Gig–Join Us!


Welcome to McElrath Cabaret–We hope you enjoy our cabaret blog!


Here’s Michael Finestein with the standard by Johnny Mercer and Richard Whiting “Too Marvelous For Words”–enjoy!  A fun variation on the refrain in this version.


Good evening!  I hope you had a marvelous weekend and got to sing!


Today’s tip is quick and to the point:


Go for it and try starting a piano bar gig for yourself.


Let’s face it–there are simply not enough paying gigs for cabaret entertainers.  We all need to be trying to open up new venues.  One way to do this is to try hosting a piano bar.  We are fortunate, in that we are a self-contained unit of a piano player and 2 singers, so we’ve got what we need in order to do this.


Pay attention when you are out and about if you happen to be eating out.  Is there copyrighted music playing over the loudspeaker or even live?  Then the venue should have an ASCAP and BMI license and perhaps others.  This means it should be wide open for cabaret music as well.  Try to get to know the person who can make such a decision about doing piano bar.  It might be the owner or a bar manager.  Since it’s something new, you might offer to work for a month for free to see how it goes.  If you have a successful track record of bringing in big crowds for piano bar, obviously your fee will be much more, but this is more for those of us in small towns where the concept of a piano bar might be something new and fresh for a restaurant or lounge owner.


All you can do is talk to the person in charge and ask about it.  The worst they can say is no, but if they say yes, this is very good.  Many people in the audience love to get up and show off a little bit by singing a song that they like, and if you are a good host it will help to make the entire evening enjoyable for everyone.  It will give you a chance to build your own audience while bringing in customers to the establishment, both of which are good things for you.  Once you are up and going, building your audience, you can ask about bringing your cabaret show to perform there.


Also, I wouldn’t work for free for very long.  Offer to work for tips for a defined period of time, say 4 weeks, and then you can revisit it with the owner and see how it’s going.  If no one is showing up, then you are just out some time, but at least you got to sing and hopefully made some tips.  If it’s becoming popular, now is the time to point out that the entertainment is the only thing that changed the situation around, and your time is worth money to keep it going.  You can negotiate a reasonable fee that fits with the restaurant’s budget and compensates you for your time and effort so that you can afford to continue to entertain there.


Hope these Tuesday cabaret tips help–let us know what other topics you’d like to see us cover here, and we’ll do our best to work through them!


As a cabaret singer, what would you add to this conversation?  Leave us a note about it in the comments below—we always love to hear from our readers!


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We appreciate your support!

Till next time,


Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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One Response to Cabaret Tip Tuesday at McElrath Cabaret: Go For It And Try Starting A Piano Bar Gig–Join Us!

  1. Pingback: Ask A Cabaret Question at McElrath Cabaret–Do You Work With A Cabaret Collaborator? Join The Conversation! | McElrath Cabaret Blog