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Over recent times, I’ve adopted the habit of frequenting open mic events. An open mic is an event where all types of performers go to perform their act in front of an audience. Anyone can perform. There’s no need to get booked by an agent or call anyone in advance, all you have to do is sign up when you get there.
The great thing about open mics is that the audience, mostly performers themselves, are really kind and encouraging to newcomers. It’s a wonderful environment to build your confidence and stage presence in front of a crowd, and get useful constructive criticism along the way.
Below are the strategies I use during an open mic night in order to get the most out of every experience. See if you can apply any of them to your music career.
Note: This guest post is by Reyshizz. If you have any useful music industry knowledge, you may be able to contribute to this site via our contact page.
How Do Open Mic Nights Work
While the general idea behind open mic nights is to turn up and play your music even if you’re not booked, the exact details can vary from venue to venue. For example, some open mic nights will allow you to turn up with your own equipment and band, and perform for one or two songs before the next musician is up. Other open mike events, particularly rap ones, will have a DJ or two spinning tunes on the decks. You will then be able to go back to back with a host of other rappers for say 8 or 16 bars each.
You may want to ring ahead and find out the exact details of how each open mic night works. By doing this you will know if you have to bring your own backing tracks and / or instruments, or if you can simply turn up and perform.
It’s always a good idea to bring along a CD of songs you can perform to, just in case. You never know what’s going to happen at these events, so if a opportunity comes your way, you want to be ready and prepared to take it.
How To Find Open Mic Nights
When I decided to perform at open mics, the first problem I ran into was not knowing where to find them. This problem was easily solved though with the power of the internet. I decided to use Google to search for open mics near where I live, and focused on finding clubs or lounges that held these events on a weekly basis. For each club that I found, I called in advance to make sure the information was up to date. The results were broad, but it was a good start.
Along the way, I found another tool I could use to find open mic nights. This tool was a website called Eventbrite. On Eventbrite you can search all different types of events, and filter these events by your location. Again, I called each open mic night that I found to confirm the details.
Once you find a few promising options, mark your calendar with a date to go to each one of these events. As they’re generally ‘turn up and perform’, you don’t have to worry about booking before you go. You might want to simply call up on the day or the day before just to confirm that the event is still happening. Other then that though, things should be all good.
Practice Before You Get There
At open mic nights, you get all different levels of talent. While people are generally understanding of those less then talented people and give them a chance, you don’t want to be one of them. Even though this is still practice time for you, you also have the opportunity to build up some good connections in the music industry. Because of this, you will want to make sure you’re at a decent level before hand.
There are a number of ways to prepare for a gig. Practicing in front of a mirror using your hair brush as the microphone isn’t quite the same as performing in front of an audience, but it’s better than nothing. At the very least make sure your lyrics are firmly memorized. You’d be surprised at how quickly your words escape you when you have a crowd waiting for you to say something.
Lastly, you’ll want to stay off the alcohol before you perform. I’ve looked at why this is already in the following guide, so check that out if you want the reasons for why this is recommended: http://www.musicindustryhowto.com/should-i-drink-alcohol-before-a-gig/.
An open mic is the place to practice in front of an audience, but do yourself a favor and practice alone first to get your act together.
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P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and make people WANT to hear it. Want to learn how to do that? Then check out our music marketing training here. A fool proof guide on how to get people to listen to your music.