If you are a musician just starting out, and let’s face it starting out is a position that we return to often, open mic nights are a great way to begin if you can play acoustically. Open mic nights are events where anybody can turn up with their instrument, sign up and if there are spaces be given a spot to play that night. Some open mic hosts do require you to signup beforehand, however. Also, most open mics are focused on acoustic music but some allow backing tracks in both cases, do check with the promoter beforehand.
Open mic nights may not be super busy, or get you massive attention – but should you bother, what’s the point? I very much think so – read on to find out the four biggest reasons why you should play an open mic night this week.
To Test Your Material
So you’ve written some new stuff and you’re as happy as you can be with it. Go and play it in a new space, play it out loud, how does it cut through? How do people respond? Does it give you any new insight to the work?
If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean you should abandon it of course, you can try different versions or you could decide just not to play it live.
To Meet New People or Find a Community
If you’re new in town, or this is a new adventure for you, it’s a good and easy way to make a few connections with like minded people. Obviously there’s the other musicians, but also the promoter who may be able to offer you gigs elsewhere and don’t forget the people that run the venue and do the sound. You can use your performance as a way to connect.
Most open mics are welcoming – Dive in, the water’s warm.
To Practice or Learn your Craft
If you’re first-time starting out – you’ll need to learn many things, over time, such as:
- how to deal with nerves,
- how to respond to hecklers and take praise,
- strategies for dealing with broken strings, dodgy leads and it’s all gone wrongs,
- how to perform well in good and bad sounding environments,
- connecting with the audience.
But don’t expect to learn it all at once! You’ll likely want to:
- practice talking whilst tuning,
- try introducing your songs in interesting ways in front of people,
- mix up different sets
Still you’ll get used to occasionally forgetting the words, playing to empty rooms as well as full halls and enjoying rapturous applause.
Nothing prepares you more than actually going out there and doing it – so get out there and do it!
To Tell Your Story
Wherever you are on your personal journey, it’s a great idea to let people know. Begin building awareness by sharing on your social like these guys below.
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Here's a clip of the #blightofthebards performing at the speckled Hen! Make sure you guys come out, as we are now hosting every 4th Thursday of the month for open Mic! 9-midnight! #10years #fixme #Irish #pennywhistles #ireland🍀 #pub #craftbrews #oldestbarintown #fireplace #aesthetic #metal #irishfolk #Celtic #squadgoals #jamming #covers #12string #eclectic #openmic #sendbobs #logcabin #readingpa #pagoda
Even if you don’t want to promote that you are going to play, you might want to document that you did. You can try thanking organisers, shouting out artists that you liked or at least just posting pictures. It’s a great way to start telling your story, particularly on social media. It may seam like a little update but it builds into a body of work. Always be communicating – drip, drip, drip.
Does this wet your appetite for getting out and playing an open-mic? Let us know in the comments if we’ve forgotten anything, in the meantime if you haven’t already Download our Guide to Acoustic Gigs in the Berkshire Area