13 Dos and Don'ts of Open Mic

13 Dos and Don'ts of Open Mic

Written by Bandzoogle member Robin Yukiko. Robin is a Berklee College of Music grad, singer-songwriter, pianist, and music educator in San Francisco. She hosts the SF Singer-Songwriters’ Workshop at the Musicians Union Local 6.

After going to open mics for years, I decided to compile a list of "rules" that I sadly see broken all the time. Maybe this can help some of you!

DON’T play and leave.

DO talk to EVERYONE and remember their names. You can even write their name and description and review it at the end of the night. They will be so impressed the next week.

DON’T expect to be discovered. This is a networking opportunity with other musicians. Open mics only lead to gigs if you work your contacts and follow up.

DON'T just say "Good job". Be specific and sincere like "I really liked your hook" or "Your low range sounds great!" so they know you were paying attention.

DO introduce others. Even if you aren't interested in collaborating with someone, maybe you can give someone a good lead.

DON’T heckle. No one wants you to request Free Bird.

DO be gracious. If only one person is listening, play just for that person, and yourself.

DON’T talk loudly over a ballad. Everyone chats, just be respectful about it.

DO play contrasting songs. (One slow, one fast, one in major, one in minor, etc.)

Similarly, DON’T play two songs in the same key back-to-back. Even if an audience doesn't know, their ears will start to get bored.

DON’T apologize before you play a song. People want you to be excited about your song, not hear excuses for why it's going to suck.

DO make friends with the host, bartenders, and all staff. People like to work with their friends, so be a friend to everyone you meet.

DO have fun! If it's not fun, what's the point?

Looking to host an open mic? Be sure to read How To Organize and Promote An Open Mic

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Comments

Jett Pink
Posted by Jett Pink on Aug 23 2012 9:47 PM
Don't just drink water, buy something while you're there so that the club can afford to keep hosting open mics
Robin Yukiko
Posted by Robin Yukiko on Aug 24 2012 5:17 AM
I'd like to add "Don't stop in the middle if you mess up"!
MeatMonsterkills
Posted by MeatMonsterkills on Aug 26 2012 10:45 PM
[quote="JettPink"]Don't just drink water, buy something while you're there so that the club can afford to keep hosting open mics[/quote] I agree, but don't buy like seven or ten before you start.
Dream Seeker Records, LLC
Posted by Dream Seeker Records, LLC on Aug 31 2012 8:14 PM
52 people have redeemed the *free* download promocode=ryno for "Good Day!"(you know who you are and so do we:) thank you!) get yours before the promotion ends at Midnight tonight! redeem @ www.dsrcrew.com
Edward Thiessen
Posted by Edward Thiessen on Aug 31 2012 11:34 PM
Clean yourself up and dress well! It's always good to look like you take care of yourself personally; visual appeal is important.
Revenant
Posted by Revenant on Sep 1 2012 1:01 AM
Dreamseekerrecords, it really isn't cool to hijack a thread. Kinda like at an open mic, you shouldn't jump onstage and hijack someone else's performance.:rolleyes:
TheHickoryTownRuckus
Posted by TheHickoryTownRuckus on Sep 3 2012 4:18 PM
Good pointers, I follow most of these one more: don't do all covers, if any
The Virgo Vertigo
Posted by The Virgo Vertigo on Sep 3 2012 4:34 PM
What are feelings on playing with a simple backing track, say with hand drums and a bass, at an open mic?
dorindaweaver.com
Posted by dorindaweaver.com on Sep 3 2012 6:22 PM
Already stated I know but people skills are so important! It's great when you're personality comes through onstage, but offstage personality is just as important.
dorindaweaver.com
Posted by dorindaweaver.com on Sep 3 2012 6:22 PM
[quote="DorindaSinger"]Already stated I know but people skills are so important! It's great when you're personality comes through onstage, but offstage personality is just as important. [/quote]
HexFallen.com
Posted by HexFallen.com on Sep 12 2012 3:18 PM
In my experience. Majority of the people that go to "Free" shows hosted at Open Mic's in local bars or clubs, are there for one thing... The beer or booze! Don't expect to be loved easily! Unless you just blow them away with your genre's style. So don't stress, but also do the right thing! Usually, when your doing these gigs, they are for strictly promotion or a goal! So learn some basic PR and have fun. Get creative! Do different than those in your local scene. Become friends with the owner of such a place! In so much so, you guys drink beer together! Lol! Design a promotional handout, that is about your art, web, or such. Which may also include a discount with said bar. (for example). Yet! Be that owners buddy to make it happen... For example now! I handout promotional's that look like little "TOP SECRET" Government files, which spooks and hooks everyone I have handed them out to... They definately remember and even if they are drunk, when they get home they look at it, even if they find it in the floor board of their car or it falls out of their pocket in the jail, due to them being picked up for public intox.... Heed these 13 rules, but also fit it to your agenda and goal.... Get Creative! Make Friends! Spread the Word! - HF: www.MurderMorgue.com.
Voices Around The World
Posted by Voices Around The World on Sep 14 2012 7:29 AM
[quote="Justin"]We found this post about open mics by Bandzoogle member Robin Yukiko in our forums, and thought that musicians that read our blog would also enjoy it. Robin is a Berklee College of Music grad, singer-songwriter, pianist, and music educator in San Francisco. She hosts the SF Singer-Songwriters’ Workshop at the Musicians Union Local 6. Learn more at www.robinyukiko.com After going to open mics for years, I decided to compile a list of "rules" that I sadly see broken all the time. Maybe this can help some of you! DON’T play and leave. DO talk to EVERYONE and remember their names. You can even write their name and description and review it at the end of the night. They will be so impressed the next week. DON’T expect to be discovered. This is a networking opportunity with other musicians. Open mics only lead to gigs if you work your contacts and follow up. DON'T just say "Good job". Be specific and sincere like "I really liked your hook" or "Your low range sounds great!" so they know you were paying attention. DO introduce others. Even if you aren't interested in collaborating with someone, maybe you can give someone a good lead. DON’T heckle. No one wants you to request Free Bird. DO be gracious. If only one person is listening, play just for that person, and yourself. DON’T talk loudly over a ballad. Everyone chats, just be respectful about it. DO play contrasting songs. (One slow, one fast, one in major, one in minor, etc.) Similarly, DON’T play two songs in the same key back-to-back. Even if an audience doesn't know, their ears will start to get bored. DON’T apologize before you play a song. People want you to be excited about your song, not hear excuses for why it's going to suck. DO make friends with the host, bartenders, and all staff. People like to work with their friends, so be a friend to everyone you meet. DO have fun! If it's not fun, what's the point? What do you think? Have you experienced any of these things at an open mic? Would you add any Dos or Don'ts to the list? Let us know in the comments! [/quote]
Voices Around The World
Posted by Voices Around The World on Sep 14 2012 7:41 AM
I live in SW UK. Most of the 13 rules are true here too except of course the beer is better! We have mix of open mics and I think you need to choose the ones that suit you best. They are mostly but not always in our English pubs. In olden days it was mostly folk clubs where you could go if you want to play for some free exposure but now in my hometown here in Exmouth there is one or more open mic night every night of the week to choose from. There are some that are known to be pretty noisy and others where you can definitely expect a listening audience but the point made that it is best not to do a hit an run is the biggy ...hanging out with the crowd and other musicians is important and actually a lot of fun. It will certainly help build your rep!:)
Mayan Fox
Posted by Mayan Fox on Sep 14 2012 9:30 AM
1 and 4 i find to be really crucial to building a good network with fellow musos.
james flannigan
Posted by james flannigan on Jul 29 2015 7:27 PM
hi , im having a biit of trouble. ive been hosting my open mic night for two years and week by week the place went from being packed to virtually none over this time. plaaying the same songs can be tedious and iratible especially when your the only performer doing a 3 m1/2 hour set. im not a very good singer and cant afford to pay another person. the manager rand i have spoke about this. ive spent alot on advertising to play to an empty pub. where i live there are many musician/singers but noond wants to play at my open mic, even though i do help them out when their in need.im getting fed up with playing to noone , its soul destroying n i just want to give up. cheers for taking the time to read this
Joe
Posted by Joe on Aug 18 2015 7:40 PM
Stellar post. I've been preaching this to fellow crooners for years. Open mics are a great place to network, support local talent, and hone our stage skills. They shouldn't be taken lightly.
DEJA-VU
Posted by DEJA-VU on Aug 19 2015 4:24 PM
1. Don't Drink In The Parking Lot To Save Money, 2 Don't Try To Get People To Leave For Another Open Mic Elsewhere ! 3 Don't Talk Over Someone Else, When Your Done Your Songs, To Distract Others Talent. 4 Don't Try To Steal The Hosts Job !!!!!
Bubba Freak
Posted by Bubba Freak on Aug 21 2015 9:21 AM
There are no rules. Do what you want.
DEJA-VU
Posted by DEJA-VU on Aug 23 2015 7:55 PM
Yep, No Rules, Just Pay Entertainment Prices, To Be The Entertainment, The Club Needs Your $ And Talent To Stay Alive ! Enjoy !
Kenny cocker
Posted by Kenny cocker on Feb 17 2016 2:14 PM
Don't mess up stop singing throw the Mike down off the stage and run out the front door😨
Linda
Posted by Linda on Feb 25 2016 11:57 AM
Open mic has destroyed the venue industry for the artists. I began playing out in 1980 and it was easy to get a paying gig and you did not have to be a cover of tribute band to get paid. And the places used to be packed too. Now you go see these same bands who think they were all doing so well at the open mic because all the other drunk musicians were cheering them on have a hand full of people show up to a real show if they are lucky. Only one making money is the bar and the person who is running the open mic. All the open mic nights have killed it. Wednesdays used to be a big night to go see a band too and a great night to get paying gigs. But if you can get the milk for free .......
Ron Canning
Posted by Ron Canning on Mar 4 2016 1:41 AM
i started an open mic in Dilgent River , ans selected what i thought were the best dependable musicians to be the 'house band ' becuse i felt the 'band was there to enhance the singers as much as possible , but the local committee decided anyone who wants to play alone should be allowed to stay on stage , try doing your best performance with ten rhythm guitars , at least two lead guitars drums , fiddle , bass,, so i decided it was time for me not to be there , so now its a kitchen party gig and total mess , most self respecting entertainers would shutter at the thought of trying to give a decent performance there , , there are at least four other open mics in the county that have a regular 'house bands that are mostly made up up of ex band members or have been playing for years that all do an awesome job of making a singer sound the best they can sound. just my opinion .
Kurt Burns
Posted by Kurt Burns on Apr 11 2016 10:59 PM
Honestly the idea of getting on stage and singing in front of people shouldn't be that hard I've done it thousands of times singing Karaoke. But recently I started playing and recording my own cover of songs I enjoy and have been contemplating going to my local karaoke hot spot and singing at my 1st ever open mic night. I'm learning how to play the guitar and know I can sing but it's the thought of looking like a fool that scares the crap out of me.... My mind races and I forget words or chords but I feel like if I don't face this fear it will eat at me until I do.... I've got a note book with my hand written notes and songs I play. My son calls it my Bible because I always have it with me.... lol thanks for all the advice I'll let you know how I do.....
Kurt Burns
Posted by Kurt Burns on Apr 11 2016 11:00 PM
Honestly the idea of getting on stage and singing in front of people shouldn't be that hard I've done it thousands of times singing Karaoke. But recently I started playing and recording my own cover of songs I enjoy and have been contemplating going to my local karaoke hot spot and singing at my 1st ever open mic night. I'm learning how to play the guitar and know I can sing but it's the thought of looking like a fool that scares the crap out of me.... My mind races and I forget words or chords but I feel like if I don't face this fear it will eat at me until I do.... I've got a note book with my hand written notes and songs I play. My son calls it my Bible because I always have it with me.... lol thanks for all the advice I'll let you know how I do.....
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