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Here is some early Barbra Streisand. This rendition of one of her signature songs, “Happy Days Are Here Again” was recorded, according to James Gavin in Intimate Nights, “live at the hungry i, San Francisco” (383). The song was included on her album entitled Live . . .1963. On the front of the album cover it says, “The incomparable Barbra in a rare, never before available nightclub performance.” Ms. Streisand’s official website. Enjoy!
Today I’m thinking about publicity and performance tips for cabaret singers, so my tip for you today is this: Use response cards at your cabaret shows.
We like to have response cards and pens on every table in the rooms where we are playing. These should be small (four would fit on an 8 1/2 by 11 inch page) and only take a second or two for audience members to fill out–if it’s too complicated, they won’t bother with it, so keep that in mind.
You want to encourage the audience to give you two bits of information, both of which will help you to grow your audience as well as improve your cabaret entertaining skills.
The first is the person’s name and best contact information so that you can add them to your cabaret email list.
When people are all excited after seeing your show, and likely giving you some well-deserved praise, that is the time to offer them a way to see more of you when you perform. Ask them to sign up for your mail list. I like to give a fun, short announcement from the stage right before our final song, so they know where the cards are (on the table) and what they’re for (mail list and comments), and what to do with them when they’ve filled them out (basket on the table). And a mailing list, a good one, is only going to yield anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of people actually taking action on your request, at best. What this means is that if you are trying to fill a 100-seat room, and you’re trying to do it from a mailing list to sell tickets, you are going to need anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 people on your list in order to reach your goal. So response cards are your friend! (As is an easy way for new audience members to sign up for your email list on your cabaret website or blog.)
The second is to give the person an opportunity to tell you what they liked best about the show that you just got done presenting to them.
This will give you pull quotes that you can use in advertising, without using the person’s name in your advertising unless they have given you specific permission to do so. Still, you can use a statement like, “Audience members say . . .” and then plug in a phrase or line from your response cards. This helps to give potential audience members who pick up your flyer an idea of what you are like when you’re performing, and what someone other than yourself said about your show, both of which are helpful. It will also give you some feedback of what is working well–do more of that. People may also include what isn’t working, which is helpful to know as well. You may or may not agree with them, but it will give you a chance to reflect on a part of your show and make it better, as you see fit. And mostly the feedback is positive–I love to read these when I am feeling discouraged–someone who saw our show really did like it, and they said it to us in black and white! That is very encouraging.
At the bottom of the card, say “Thank you!” It’s been our experience that not many people will fill out response cards, but a few will, and if you can pick up a few new audience members with each gig that you do, eventually you can fill the bigger rooms where you want to play.
You should ask the booker in advance if it is okay for you to use response cards (usually this is not a problem for them). We like to set up a large sign that has our name on it near the piano and the entrance into the room, with a table and a basket on the table. I just announce, when I encourage them to fill out a response card from the stage, to just drop it in the basket on their way out. That way I don’t have to run around and try to collect them from everyone, and it doesn’t impose on the wait staff to have to deal with them when they are busy. Do remember to pick up any remaining cards from the tables before you leave–we’ve had people leave filled-out ones on the tables as well, and you don’t want to miss any. It’s also courteous for the wait staff, who have to clean up afterward.
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!
Do you have any tips that you like to use for using response cards? Do you have any other cabaret show tips you’d like to share? Do tell down in the comments! We always love to hear from our readers!
Till next time,
ps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party is still going strong–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or cabaret website link from now through Thursday. Link is below.
Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:
Tuesdays: Cabaret Tip Tuesday
Wednesdays: Ask A Cabaret Question
Thursdays: Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer
Fridays: Cabaret Through Time