Benji, WHAR are you saying? One statement I think (make that KNOW) you're wrong about. Never, NEVER NEVER!!!!
offer your for free (tips only)
I will do a one time freebie audition but that's it. It's fine to work for a low rate plus tips but not for tips only. I can find a lot of restaurants that will pay me $50 plus tips for a 2 hour night on a weekly basis. If you work for free then they think that your value is "free."
Paddy it depends on where the person is at. Of course restaurant workers will say to not work for free because it would be taking a step back. But someone starting out, having a hard time getting a restaurant will need to use all the techniques they can. And the hardest part about performing in a restaurant is getting one in the first place.
That is a technique which looks more towards the future and not just in the moment. You get them invested in what you offer and then take it away. Its a simple negotiation technique adapted for the long term (it can even be used to ask for a pay raise).
Try it Paddy. Tell your restaurant that you are getting other offers and you need them to pay you $75 instead of $50 because other places want you. You can either go out and really find a restaurant to pay $75 or just lie and tell them thats how much another restaurant is offering.
If you don't believe me, ask B Magic...he knows it works because he did it at his restaurant. He told them he had another restaurant offer to hire him (which was true but they didn't know that) so they needed to pay him more to keep him there. He used this technique twice.
If someone is having a hard time getting a restaurant then use that technique. Too many performers don't have much foresight. If doing something for free today will allow you to get paid a month from now then it is worth it.