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Open Mic (love it or hate it)

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Share your stories about Open Mic night ... I'd be interested to learn the origins of 'OPEN MIC' how long has this been going on? I've been paying attention to it for at least a dozen years ...

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Open mic nights are like a box of chocolate... you never know quite what your gonna get..

 

Sometimes amazing.. mostly aweful.. But it gives people the chance to perform in public without having to be in a band... So I dont think they are a bad thing but ive had to sit through some REALLY painfull acts...

 

I actually have video of the last one I went too that had both good and bad.. But im not sure anyone would want to see it or not :)

 

Actually to expand on that.. One of the last acts who played was so bad I actually had to leave the room as I was in fitts of laughter and was in the bathroom so long my mate who was their texted me to tell me he could hear me from the main room lol.. I felt bad as I wouldnt like to have that reaction from someone, but just couldnt control it.

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I went into a downtown club that features live entertainment one night with my then girlfriend and found out it was an open mic night.After a couple of ales(this was way back when I drank like I had hollow legs and sponge feet)and full of liquid courage,I got up and did some numbers by Donovan,Peter Sarstedt and some Badfinger and Michel Pagliaro.When I had finished doing my 5 or 6 songs and getting an encouraging audience response I went back to my table.Soon the owner/manager came down to my table and asked me if I would like to be booked there to host the next open mic night.When he said that it paid $80 I readily agreed.I guess that means that I'm fond of open mic nights.Having said that I've been to open mic shows and karaoke where people with the musical aptitude of a slug have gotten up and bellowed out some offkey number obviously thinking that they were Julliard material as they trounced from the stage.Some nights there have been an overabundance of these types,necessitating an early exit to spare your ears.

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Share your stories about Open Mic night ...

 

Same ole' story ... tired of paying for lousy beer and providing free entertainment. Seems to be a den for crooks that would be more than willing to relieve the next sucker of their 'intellectual property'. The 'indy music industry' has a less than stellar reputation in terms of scruples. Yeah you can hold court with your latest new equipment in front of an audience for fifteen minutes, but those type of limitations become noisome. A big gamble. Know your limitations. Bars don't care about people, or music, they care about money and how they can get more of yours. I wish to trademark the term 'open mic' so that everytime some new bar owner wants to open their doors to musicians to bring in business and call it 'open mic' they'll have to pay ME to use it! lol

 

I have participated in sooo many 'open mic' nights over the years in the city. Some good, lots not. Mostly it's a uphill battle to gain some standing among other musicians (if you could put it that way). A way to rank yourself. Some players at open mics can become competitive to the point of degenerating the whole experience for others and that's not what it's supposed to be about, right? Generally you get the guy or gal with an acoustic guitar plugged into the house pa hosting. There might be a sign up list to get your three songs or fifteen minutes or more if it's not busy. Sometimes you get band electric jams with drums, and bass guitar to accompany. Personally I am no longer interested in the solo acoustic interview: There's too many people with cheap acoustic guitars and high hopes.

I would rather treat an 'open mic' where there's gonna be bass and drums as an 'open audition' for players that want to play covers ... and after a few covers the inspiration for new material. I want to play in a band. Unfortunately the host might think this is too intense and bomb your chances of making it work, you know it's not about the music for the host and bar it's about the money.

There's a particular 'popular' bar in the city that's become a tourist trap. They make no appologies about being open just for the college rush of transient students in the fall. There's no consideration for regulars in terms of working there. Another bar blatantly advertises on it's website to be 'recruiting' students from the university to 'party', using the actual name of the university like they've approved it. I am uncomfortable with bars that claim to be 'Irish' as well, as most are no more 'Irish' than McDonald's. False claims. Beware. Sadly without the work contacts with the people who use the open mics to network in the music community those bars seem little more than legalized drug pedalers, booze pushers. The whole culture of friends granting friends favours really gets me steamed and seriously people, the pot smokers ruin it for me as well. I don't even smoke cigarettes!

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Call me the lucky one...in our locale 95% of the artists at open mics are really good...

 

IMX some of the best events are run by husband/wife musical partners, who look after the performers well...

 

The pub and club trade is in the doldrums due to the recession, so open mic events are proliferating at the moment as a way of drawing people in for an enjoyable social evening...

 

It's a great way to build confidence and overcome stage fright

 

I currently play in an acoustic trio met at an open mic night

 

Some events have a full electric house band which can be good or not...either as backing for singers or sitting in on drums/guitar etc..

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I'd like to try it sometime. as much as I've played out in my life, I've never done it "solo". this would be a perfect place to try it out.

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I'd like to try it sometime. as much as I've played out in my life, I've never done it "solo". this would be a perfect place to try it out.

 

Yes do it..!!

 

One of the best aspects is to take a music stand with lyrics etc onto the stage...

 

Avoiding the normal tendency to forget the words... [biggrin]

 

Open mics really are an excellent training ground... [thumbup]

 

Another tip is to sing along with preceding acts...this warms up the voice...avoiding cracking embarrassments...

 

V

 

:-({|=

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I find open-mic nights vaguely depressing. I can't quite put my finger on it but I always feel a deep sense of melancholy when I go to one. The reason for this might be, that it's performers performing for other performers...

 

It would NEVER occur to me to go to an open-mic just to watch and not perform myself. I did a couple on my own and acoustic sets with my old band back in the day and I never really enjoyed them. They are useful though for getting used to perform in front of people...

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I've been to a local one many times - firstly as spectator then more recently dragging along my guit (and once or twice my amp too).

I've even had the surprise of being pulled up half-way through what was intended to be a 'spectator' (i.e. Drinking) night and given the band's spare Strat as I hadn't brought a guitar of my own.

 

It's fun in a slightly scary way.

The 'assembled' band have always, but always, chosen to play at least one track I didn't know and the last time I was up I didn't know any of the three (I think? More Beer!) I sat in on.........[scared]

 

Quality varies, of course, but is usually pretty good and sometimes excellent.

 

P.

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I want to start another band and I've advertised for a singer, but I've had no replies.

So, this is what I'm going to do. Go to open nights. I've found where a few are I'm going to see what the talent's like.

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I want to start another band and I've advertised for a singer, but I've had no replies.

So, this is what I'm going to do. Go to open nights. I've found where a few are I'm going to see what the talent's like.

Totally.. thats another good use for them.. Networking.. You never know who will go to these things and will at least find some like minded people you may wanna jam with and then who knows... :)

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Guest rogerb

We have an open mic at our weekend gig, basically singers can get on a list and then sing one song with the band. Usually it works out fine, sometimes you will even hear a good singer. Many times you just cringe during the entire song.

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480083_515166528509060_179118643_n.jpg

 

Playing for free in a commercial establishment takes food out of the mouths of working musicians. It's akin to pirating their songs.

 

I play free for charities and yearly at the VA hospital, (but I have to believe in the charity).

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...Playing for free in a commercial establishment takes food out of the mouths of working musicians. It's akin to pirating their songs...

It's a very serious point you are making, Notes.

 

In the cases of both the venues which host O-M nights I've mentioned there is always a regular 'core' band which IS being paid for the evening.

 

They always play their own set during the first half and allow those who wish to get up a chance to play with a proper band / backing musicians in a 'live' setting in the second half so no-one is out-of-pocket in these instances. Usually the 'real' band will reconvene for the last part of the evening.

 

Perhaps it's different in the States but that seems to be the usual routine in London AFAIK.

 

P.

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Perhaps it's different in the States but that seems to be the usual routine in London AFAIK.

Some places do it that way. Others do not.

There is no "usual routine" here in the States. Every place does it their own way. :)

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Yes, we get paid to host an open mic night every Thursday at Chad's Place in Big Bear Lake calif. It's actually a lot more challenging than a typical gig, and extremely rewarding. It give folks a chance to play with a band or have their songs fleshed out by a band. It's also where we met out current drummer, so there's the opportunity to meat musicians and form friendships.

 

I have to disagree with Notes this time. Open Mic nights aren't about playing for free, it's about exposure and letting the weekend warrior have a taste of the night life (all while tipping the jar).

 

{edit}Tell you what, it's 100 times better than Karaoke.

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Open Mic nights aren't about playing for free, it's about exposure and letting the weekend warrior have a taste of the night life (all while tipping the jar).

Corny, I know, but I'd mentally like to thank FM and his ilk for doing his bit to allow 'midweek-warriors' like me to enjoy myself immensely even if only for a short while.

Without the real band's backing - in more than one sense - folk like me (working, married with young child) would have no way of "standing up and playing my guitar" - to paraphrase Mr. Zappa.

 

I really do appreciate the fact that their hard work has put them in a position where the likes of me can just turn up with a guit, plug-in and play.

 

There's no way I'm going to be in 'competition' with them from a professional point of view and on every occasion most of the players sit around 'after hours' chewing the fat with the other performers.

 

IMX it's always been a win-win situation for all concerned.

 

P.

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Same ole' story ... tired of paying for lousy beer and providing free entertainment. Seems to be a den for crooks that would be more than willing to relieve the next sucker of their 'intellectual property'. The 'indy music industry' has a less than stellar reputation in terms of scruples. Yeah you can hold court with your latest new equipment in front of an audience for fifteen minutes, but those type of limitations become noisome. A big gamble. Know your limitations. Bars don't care about people, or music, they care about money and how they can get more of yours. I wish to trademark the term 'open mic' so that everytime some new bar owner wants to open their doors to musicians to bring in business and call it 'open mic' they'll have to pay ME to use it! lol

 

I have participated in sooo many 'open mic' nights over the years in the city. Some good, lots not. Mostly it's a uphill battle to gain some standing among other musicians (if you could put it that way). A way to rank yourself. Some players at open mics can become competitive to the point of degenerating the whole experience for others and that's not what it's supposed to be about, right? Generally you get the guy or gal with an acoustic guitar plugged into the house pa hosting. There might be a sign up list to get your three songs or fifteen minutes or more if it's not busy. Sometimes you get band electric jams with drums, and bass guitar to accompany. Personally I am no longer interested in the solo acoustic interview: There's too many people with cheap acoustic guitars and high hopes.

I would rather treat an 'open mic' where there's gonna be bass and drums as an 'open audition' for players that want to play covers ... and after a few covers the inspiration for new material. I want to play in a band. Unfortunately the host might think this is too intense and bomb your chances of making it work, you know it's not about the music for the host and bar it's about the money.

There's a particular 'popular' bar in the city that's become a tourist trap. They make no appologies about being open just for the college rush of transient students in the fall. There's no consideration for regulars in terms of working there. Another bar blatantly advertises on it's website to be 'recruiting' students from the university to 'party', using the actual name of the university like they've approved it. I am uncomfortable with bars that claim to be 'Irish' as well, as most are no more 'Irish' than McDonald's. False claims. Beware. Sadly without the work contacts with the people who use the open mics to network in the music community those bars seem little more than legalized drug pedalers, booze pushers. The whole culture of friends granting friends favours really gets me steamed and seriously people, the pot smokers ruin it for me as well. I don't even smoke cigarettes!

 

Thanks to 'open mic' night my bandmates function at a two pint minimum! Though having live performers perform does help to preserve the oral tradition. Some works might disappear forever because the original performer is no longer performing the songs live. Open Mics keep the spirit alive, good or bad, like it or leave it. It's fun to play on stage with performers you haven't met before and resume on that 'Sunshine of Your Love' purely for the reason that you all know it.

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Open mic nights are like a box of chocolate... you never know quite what your gonna get.

 

How true. I've had the opportunity to host a few of them over the years and there were times I just wanted to crawl under a barstool and die. I used to play a lot of them after my college band split up and I was beginning to play out solo... it was a great opportunity. Who knows how bad I sounded, but expectations are pretty low when it's open mic night generally. It was great though when someone talented who was really just getting out there, played and got positive feedback from the crowd.

 

I've given up playing at them for the most part and haven't hosted one for years now. Who knows, maybe I'll hit one up soon just to refresh my memory... there's a pretty good one at a local dive bar here Sunday nights. Might be interesting...

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Open Mic Night (Term used by bars and clubs to get more people in the venue because it's like having a band with 30 lead singers that work for free! They all bring their girlfriend/boyfriend, buddies, etc. Hire extra wait staff)

 

Writer's Night (Term used by bars and clubs as a way to have live music without paying a band at all. These people also travel with friends. Hire extra wait staff)

 

Karaoke (term used by bars and clubs as a combination live music simulation/comedy night. Many of these people need liquid courage to perform. Hire 2 extra waitreses.)

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Musicians need exposure before they get paid gigs. I frequented open mic nights as a young man polishing my chops and getting my stage legs. The experience is invaluable to up and coming musicians, and the only way many songwriter have to get their material heard. I really don't understand the "Playing for free and hurting live bands" because open mic nights are almost always on nights the bars don't do very well anyway, or bars that can't afford to pay the big bands.

 

And I feel I need to restate, "The band gets paid for hosting the night>" I repeat "THE BAND GETS PAID FOR HOSTING THE OPEN MIC NIGHT". The live music scene suffers much worse form part time bands that play weekends for free or beer. Open Mic Night Bands Get Paid, and it's a very hard gig to keep going and stay interesting. It calls upon every lesson I've ever learned as a musician and only serves to improve our product. Plus it gets our band more exposure for landing weddings and parties than a typical gig because we get to interact with the audience while a solo acoustic act takes the stage. Plus it heightens the appreciation of musicians, as those that try to sing with a live band find it's much more challenging than Karaoke. I haven't seen any venue change from live bands to lower paid Open Mic Nights because Open Mic Nights are not cheaper for the venue because THEY HAVE TO PAY THE BAND.

 

So to sum up, Open Mic Night Bands Get Paid For Their Services. Please stop pretending they don't.

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A few more points to consider...in favour of open mics...

 

Echoing the 'family around the piano' sing-a-longs sadly out of fashion

 

IMX the best events attract all age groups...men and women...

 

For those with their own preferences/ideas...'Start your own event'...

 

Opportunities to practice mixing desk and PA operation skills

 

Introducing and supporting performers...very satisfying to mentor the newbies and see results... [thumbup]

 

Make lots of friends

 

Think of open mics as 'home from home'...an alternative to playing at home for oneself alone...

 

To quote the great Spanish composer Joachin Rodrigo...

 

'There will always be better and worse musicians than oneself'

 

V

 

:-({|=

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Notes says it.

 

I might add as well, in this area, local music has suffered as a result. Specifically, the bands that play "for free" usually suck big time. And the venues suck as well. You can tell the difference when a new owner takes over and the place goes downhill fast with these "free bands".

 

I know rents are up, yada yada, but the equation is roughly the same: live music packs them in. The WAY it packs them in is poeple looking to go out and have a good time will usually recognize the band and decide THAT's a good place to step in and stay awhile. That's where you get the crowd, those "extra" poeple and drinks sold.

 

For the first timer not used to seeing live music, they are usually pleasantly surprised, and will revisit the venue. For those used to seeing bands they recognize and they see a "new" name they haven't seen before, they might check it out on the chance they are going to discover a good band they weren't aware of.

 

Whether you are the venue or the band, if you are the one playing for free, you aren't doing ANYONE any favors. If you're the band, and you can't get paid, there might be a reason for it. When you play your show and patrons come in on that particular night and see a band that sucks, it hurts the venue. You aren't actually getting any good exposure, because if you aren't up to the quality of what is usually played, poeple coming into the place usually don't want to see you again when they can see someone else. Patrons used to good music at the venue will find the bands that used to play there at other places, and won't be back to you're joint after seeing bands that suck a couple times.

 

I don't mean to sound snobby or put anyone down, I'm just relating real life here. There IS a difference between good bands and sucky bands. More often than not, it has to do with effort and getting paid.

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