PostsThoughts On Open Mic Nights
Posted 04/11/2016

Written for Bandflare.com

If you have gone to an Open Mic, you can agree with their usefulness as a tool for musicians. Here are some reasons to start/continue going:

  1. Performance Experience
  2. Pilot New Material
  3. Ensure Engagement Consistency
  4. Networking/Bootstrapping

Performance Experience

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of attending an Open Mic. A lot of performance hinges upon comfort. Comfort is built through experience.

Things go wrong, a lot. Experiencing, learning from, and overcoming common mistakes builds comfort and professionalism. Since Open Mic nights are such low pressure, they are a great place to make mistakes.

Here are just a handful of things I have experienced within the safety of Open Mic, sets:

  1. forgetting words
  2. going out of tune
  3. breaking strings
  4. loud feedback
  5. low audience engagement
  6. poor sound quality

Pilot New Material

In addition to experience, comfort is also built through repetition. Practicing at home and live are completely different. Open Mic's serve as my bridge between the two worlds.

Use Open Mic's to test and rehearse material. Then when the stakes are high, pull out the show stoppers and old reliable songs.

Try to figure out which songs work with the crowd. Learn how crowds respond to sets differently. Play with sequencing, and talking between songs.

Ensure Engagement Consistency

Open Mic's provide external benefits in addition to the internal ones explored above. Use them to engage with your fanbase. If you play an Open Mic night once a week (you should), you get these items for free:

  1. reason email subscribers
  2. interesting content to post to social media (an event, reminder etc.)
  3. new photos for social media
  4. new recording of a performance (why not record/release these performances)

Networking/Bootstrapping

Never expect to gain fans from playing Open Mic nights. Maybe you will get lucky, but the odds are low. However, networking with the other musicians is usually fruitful.

This the information other players have is valuable:

  1. other musicians to play with
  2. other open mic nights that are good
  3. local venues to play
  4. local studios to record at

Feel free to discuss your thoughts and opinions on the subject in the comments section below.