Open Mic Performances
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Hotel Manners
Travelling with Equipment
You and Your Agent
The Sitting Musician
Open Mic - friend or foe
The Mustache Cup
Stage Lighting
Vintage Instruments
Creating a Press Kit

     Open mic venues ....

     The first thing that needs to be mentioned is that the owner of the open mic venue is getting away with free entertainment. He or she is taking advantage of you by getting you to work without pay.

     This is a situation that works against you and can also work to your benefit.

     There are two types of venues; first, there is the nightclub, restaurant, bar or tavern who can obviously afford to pay for entertainment and is hosting an “Open Mic”. They are not just taking advantage of the performer but reducing the value of entertainment itself to nothing. This reflects in the pay scale offered by the clubs that are willing to hire entertainment.

open mic sign

     The second type of venue that promotes an open mic stage is the coffee house style of room that really wants to promote local entertainers and candidly enjoy the sharing of their fan base, family and friends that turn out to see them and become new coffee house customers.

     So why do this??

     First, the advantage goes to the performer who has never been on stage before and needs to get the bugs out, so to speak. This is an opportunity to find out if you can handle being on stage in front of people. It also allows you to become encouraged or discouraged. Some people believe they have talent when they really do not. Others blossom with these first exposures to applause and recognition. This reaction from an audience provides the impetus that drives the novice musician to practice and learn the craft.

     It is during the performances from participants that were unrehearsed, or unblessed with a voice, that the open mic venue gets to take the beating they deserve, because they can’t say no: they have to let everybody who signs the performer list go up on stage. However, it doesn’t seem to empty the room and even the worst performer tends to bring their followers.

     Some seasoned performers go to open mics to perform as it is more satisfying than rehearsing at home. To their advantage, the clever ones supply a sign-up list where the crowd can write in their emails to get on the entertainer’s newsletter. This helps the performer gather a fan base.

     If you are touring in a town where you are unknown, try to hit as many open mics as possible just before your event and mention where you will be.     Here again is how you can make this open mic format work for you. If only the open mic houses would be a bit more generous; include a couple drinks and/or a sandwich. They would still be paying a lot less than what it would cost to supply the kind of variety show the open mic concept affords them.


     There are many performers that have not experienced the changes, but there was a time when getting paid very good money to perform was common. It cannot all be blamed on open mic facilities and I am certainly not doing that here, but I will say that it has caused the up-and-coming artists to underestimate their value. The recording artist who once had an enormous monetary worth has suffered during the fall of the recording industries heyday. No one, except those at the top of the food chain, are making the money that once had been offered.  Merchandise sales are often needed to bolster the income of local and touring companies and the overhead, and lack of paying venues has been crippling. That said, the industry lives on and you can do very well by applying the assets of social media, and keeping your nose to the grindstone.

Play well, and prosper.

Professor Douglas Fraser
#open mic

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