A Tip Jar for the Digital Age

For Patrick Crilly, finding a way for musicians and bands to directly benefit from electronic tipping services at their shows is as easy as having an email address.

“The very, very first thing they need is an email address,” Crilly explains of his program and website Digital Tip Jar (DTJ), a web-based application in which music patrons can tip their favorite bands electronically via their smart phones and PayPal. DTJ is hosting a 48-hour registration campaign this Wednesday and Thursday (January 30-31) in anticipation of the legions of Super Bowl and Mardi Gras visitors just beginning to besiege the city.

Digital Tip Jar allows registered bands and musicians to collect tips electronically from patrons through the use of QR codes and PayPal.

As the creator of livemusicnola.com, Crilly had been involved in streaming of live concerts over the site, which contributed to the idea for a digital payment service. “One of the features I always wanted to have when we were doing the live streaming was that people should be able to tip the band, because people were listening to the stream for free,” he says. “It was cool promotion for the band but they weren’t really getting paid off of it.”

He wasn’t the only one to identify the need for some sort of electronic compensatory system for New Orleans artists. After visiting New Orleans during Jazz Fest 2012, the UX for Good project, a program that brings user-experience designers into an environment to identify different ways to apply their research, identified “re-tooling tips” as one of three main solutions in its final analysis. As identified in the project’s report, “UX for Good found that tipping, even in venues, was the dominant form of payment to musicians in New Orleans, sometimes supplemented by additional food and drink.”

While most New Orleans residents are aware that many of their favorite live local acts subsist primarily on the cash tips they make during their gigs, visitors to the city are often ignorant to this reality. Coupled with the fact that electronic payment services are rapidly becoming the most popular form of financial transaction, the tip-based economy of the New Orleans music scene has taken a significant hit.

Digital Tip Jar, which was officially created during the Louisiana Technology Council’s CODEMKRS Super Challenge (a 48-hour “hack-a-thon” in which local programmers developed New Orleans-related web applications), aims to remedy this by allowing registered bands and musicians to collect tips electronically from their patrons through the use of QR codes and PayPal. Not only is DTJ a completely free service, all tips go directly to the artists, and fans are given the choice of submitting personalized messages along with their contributions. Crilly hopes to eventually expand the services into social media networks, including Facebook, as well as integrate more live streaming into the site.

Musicians display the QR code during shows, either on the traditional tip bucket or hung fliers, and those who wish to donate can simply scan it with their phones or visit a corresponding website in order to contribute. “We did a show this weekend with Katey Red, Cheeky Blakk and a bunch of other bounce artists trying to raise money to go to South By Southwest, so we had the QR codes displayed on the wall, on the bar, and even on their butt cheeks,” Crilly says.

For more information or to register your band, visit https://digitaltipjar.com/.


  • dk in PA

    What a great idea! I come down from PA and don’t want to carry too much cash. Also, thinking about the memories later, I can say…wow that was a great show…and tip the band after the fact in the comfort of my home. I love the fact that you can talk to them too. How many times I wanted to tell a band how much their music means or affects my life, but you can’t say all that in a crowded club!