Open mic nights are cropping up all over the shop, and not everybody's happy about it. Whether you feel these nights, where anybody can get up and do a turn, have supplanted the pub gigs of hard working cover bands or have placed local music firmly back into the hands of the people, here's how you can get the most out of your local open mic night.
Open mic nights are comparatively free of judgement – if you're still honing your craft, you're much better off doing so on a small stage in front of 20 or so peers than in front of a couple of hundred paying customers. Furthermore, you're in the company of like-minded people, so don't afraid to ask for tips about performance and songwriting. Who knows – it could be here that you meet your future song writing partner, or accumulate a few more band mates – and they could provide the piece of your song's puzzle that you never even realized was missing.
It's always advisable to change things up when you're in the business of writing songs – it's important to be constantly evolving as an artist. However, especially if you've made quite a sweeping left turn, it can be useful to try out a new song in a friendly environment before taking it to the main stage. If you get a good response, then congratulations – you took a risk, and it totally paid off! But if not, at least you're amid family faces whose advice you can trust.
You'll earn yourself some particularly loyal fans if you build your career from the ground upwards. Playing on the same platform as real beginners shows you're more concerned with music and performance than status, and you'll win some invaluable brownie points in the process. And if you keep on attending and supporting other artists, you'll earn their respect, win their favour and vastly enhance the probability of them showing up at your shows.
If you're new in town, and are looking to get yourself a slice of that local music scene, open mic nights should be your first port of call. You'll meet fellow musicians, promoters, concert-goers, sound technicians, venue owners – the list of integral figures goes on. You'll hear about upcoming events that may be of interest to you or may be in your interest to attend.
Most open mic nights are held regularly, usually ranging from weekly to monthly. If you attend habitually, you'll not only be getting increasingly used to performing your songs – you'll be getting increasingly confident in a public setting. And don't worry about playing the same songs week in, week out – while you'll want to change things up once in a while, if you have a song that was received particularly well, people are going to want to hear it from you again. Soon enough, you'll have scored the hat-trick of being able to play your song with your eyes closed, forming a constructive relationship with yours peers, and, with any luck, causing them to learn the words to your tunes.
As technology develops and becomes more accessible, so do the ways in which you can score some footage of yourself in the spotlight. Granted, you can achieve most of this yourself in your bedroom with your smart phone, but a) you probably won't be able to accommodate as large an audience as the open mic venue will, and b) whoever's running the open mic will most likely take care of the recording for you, leaving you free to focus on your performance. Open mic nights often use services such as live streaming to share the evening's entertainment with those who couldn't make it, and also to give the performers a memento of their achievements. Alternatively, depending on what facilities they have available, the open mic night may be recorded onto the desk, and may even be mixed and mastered for you. If there's a nearby university or college, it's possible the students will relish the opportunity to exercise their skills and immerse themselves in the local scene. If this is the case in your town, you're laughing! Especially if there's a student video production company knocking about.
Written by Joe Hoten at Bands For Hire Ltd