5 Reasons why open mic nights are a good thing

We’re nothing if not fair

Following last nights spleen vent of an article, just like the BBC we have produced the opposite view for 'balance'.

Do Open Mic Nights provide a vital service for both musician and venue alike?

Read on dear friend (or ex-friend if you run an open mic night)

Reason 1 – They are a great place to get experience

Experience is important. You don't go from being a bedroom wannabee to Freddie Mercury in one easy leap.

Open Mic Nights give young and inexperienced performers the chance to hone their skills in front of a real life audience.

Maybe it'll work, maybe not but the spot gives them valuable experience for later on in their career.

This isn't just confined to the newcomer either, established acts can play new material in a live setting, adjusting and cocking up as they like. They aren't being paid anyway and the supportive atmosphere will provide constructive feedback

Reason 2 – they keep the venue open

It's a rainy Sunday in November. The publican knows that they will lose money that they can ill afford to kiss goodbye to. Many more of these and he'll have to close the doors.

An average open mic night gets enough people in through the doors to make opening for the night worthwhile. A really good open mic will give the hard pressed licensee a little profit that they can plow back into live music and if they see how successful a small OMN is then maybe they will start putting on proper paid gigs.

If we don't turn up to our local live music venues then they'll close. Goodbye both paid and free gigs

3 – Exposure darling, exposure

Stories of singers and bands getting paid gigs from an open mic night are legion.

If the place is a genuine music venue and they like your stuff then you may get asked back.

This is especially useful if you don't have the big following or professional demo discs that venues ask for before booking.

If they don't usually put on music and don't have many contacts then the obvious place for them to find talent is at the OMN.

and after all you never know who's in the crowd right?

7 – Networking

It can be a lonely old business and the chance to have a good old chinwag with some fellow musos is a wonderful way to round off the week.

Find out who the bad payers are, get news of festivals booking, hear about a piece of kit for sale and much more.

You never know when that guy who you met at open mic could lend you a lead when you're working just down the road

BEsdies this every profession needs to have a friendly ear to bend occasionally. Being a musician can be a lonely place. Having a support network is vital if you are to make a living in the game.

9 – people just like to play

Why the hell shouldn't people just enjoy playing their harmonium in a nice environment surrounded by their friends?

Some people aren't interested in being paid, they do it for the love. Some aren't good enough to be paid but they relish the opportunity to perform in front of a crowd.

Who are you to tell them they can't? You're not the boss of them.

And as for the compere - well sure they get some money for the night but it's nothing like minimum wage and probably doesn't pay for the wear and tear on the expensive PA they bring or the broken strings or the phone calls trying to get their mates along. They deserve at least something for their efforts.

Often the organiser is a working musician and when there aren't enough gigs around they can supplement a little income from what they make from an open mic. That having been said many of these are free for both performer and organiser.


Love and Peace friends, Love and Peace

22 thoughts on “5 Reasons why open mic nights are a good thing

  1. Open Mics are like any music night. Some good some bad. The person that wrote the original article in my opinion (which is considerably more qualified than his) wasn’t even in the slightest bit qualified to even have an opinion on open mics never mind write an article on it. It read like the ramblings of someone who’d be slighted and possibly had his other half stolen by an open mic ‘compere’…A word in itself shows up the lack of knowledge that the author had on the subject. ‘Compere’ I’ve never met any person that runs an open mic (and I know absolutely loads) that would consider themselves a compere. Ridiculous.

  2. Open mics are not the problem, ‘artists’ playing gigs for nothing or a few beers and bringing their friends and family along to every gig they do is what is killing live music. I have been a professional musician now for 5 years (no other income) and it is getting harder and harder. My band recently lost a regular gig (once a month) because another group of people, who were friendly with the manager, offered to do the night for free drink!!!! This was a 4 star hotel chain, known worldwide….. What chance do people have when people play for nothing. (Incidentally we got the gig back because the other band were not very good and people complained). Where I live, if you want to play original music, a Booker books you for a gig with 3 or 4 other acts, you promote your gig, sell the tickets, put up with whatever muppet they put on the sound desk (my £3000 guitar was no good as “the pickup was too powerful for the (£60) desk” was one I was hit with one time…. The music industry is dying 🙁

  3. Hi, a (Chain) pub in our town runs an open mic every wed evening. The chap running contributes his fair share. I don’t know if he is paid or not. The manager then hires (yes, for money) bands/acts to play on Fridays, Saturdays and sun afternoons. My band got a paid gig there after the publican heard me sing at the open mic. Other acts have also gotten work after being at the open mic. I know this is not the case for a lot of pubs, mores the pity, would be great to see more pubs putting their money where the muso’s are. Does the argument that open mic nights are detrimental also cover folk nights, singarounds and jam sessions?

  4. I love to play and sing and write my own. songwriters can have a problem at OM’s in that they may suffer if they do not do covers. Newbies are usually very nervous and play badly, like me perhaps. I have done one OM and was asked to come back. This gave me so much confidence. down side – noise especially later in the evening. I actually replied to one loud convo. where else do you get such experience if there is I will book a slot now!
    I do think that the payment aspect is sad for those who should be payed but the whammy here is that many of the big artists are so talent less it hurts. Its not there fault but the music industry. I have seen many bands that deserve better but burn out and are broke.
    Think the two arguments are great but until something else comes along (someone actually changes the structure of the music industry) what we have is the best and worst we have. Long Live Justin barbie!

  5. So top 5 reasons why open mics are great?

    Here is mine

    1. The music
    2. The music
    3. The music
    4. The music
    5. The music

    Thank you very much

    So now you are on everyone’s radar, do you think it worked out well for you? I am sure you learned one thing from your experiment, everyone is very passionate about what they do, and whatever your intention was, it still seems biased to me for some reason…

    5 reasons against with a picture of O’neills and 5 reasons for with a picture of Chaplins?

    Anyway … bit of a troll in a teapot really huh? Enjoy the burning ears tonight.

  6. I agree with this. If a bar wanted my band to host for free I wouldn’t do it, i’d expect SOMETHING out of it if I’m packing my truck full of band and PA gear to the stage, setting it up, keeping things running smoothly all night, and tearing down to drag it all back home. Playing music is the EASY part for the host band. Depending on the numbers coming to get up and jam they barely have to play to have a sucessful evening. It takes planning and equipment that most bars don’t provide, so pay the ones that are running the stage. too easy.

    Last night’s article seems to be going viral, I’ve seen it on many of my musician friend’s facebook pages and a few guitar forums i frequent.

  7. Im still confused about why there is an issue with the host of the night being paid? You kind of justify it here as though its ok as long as its less than minimum wage (WHY would anyone be in support of someone being paid less than minimum wage for making an obligatory time and work commitment??), as long as he/she isn’t making any profit from the evening and is spending their £40 (number picked out of the sky) on equipment upkeep and strings etc. Its a job and its a valued service. The musicians attending who are by majority generally not people who do it professionally (for their living) get to hone their skills and test their new music, the venue makes a little profit and shares some of that to the person who they delegated promotion, organisation and sound engineering of the event to… and as you point out, the compere is often a creative musician trying their best to get by financially earning from music alone.
    As someone who runs a successful and very well-attended open mic night properly and professionally and shock horror is paid more than minimum wage to do so, I find it a very odd stance for a pro gigs and bands website to take. I happily tell anyone who asks on the night that I’m of course paid for DOING MY JOB!?!

  8. I do have to agree that this article is not as detailed and as fair as yesterdays, it almost feels like it was written in a strop.

  9. Not buying this one! I’m involved in several open mic’s and they have no resemblance to the description here. Open mic’s offer a glimpse into the world of performing for many people and help them gain the confidence to go out and gig. I have seen many people get paid gigs from a short spot at an open mic. My experience of open mic’s are, a friendly supportive environment, welcoming people from all walks of life. As for the host draining the finances of the music scene, you must be having a laugh! I turn up before anyone else with a PA, set up, make sure everyone has a spot and a good sound and I’m the last to leave after dismantling the PA. I may get £20 – £40 if I’m lucky but I dam well earned it!! Open mic’s tend to be held midweek, when entertainment would not normally be on. The weekend paid gigs are still there. I know this because I gig most weekends!!

  10. Plausible arguments on both sides of the debate. Looking forward to seeing Part 3.

  11. An interesting follow up to last nights article. As I said on the other piece a well run open Mic that gives the performer a chance of paid gigs are a blessing. Thankfully we have some very well run Open Mics in this area. We also have some not so well run 😉

    Well done on a couple of thought provoking articles. When will we see part 3?

    PS just to prove I read everything why are your 5 reasons numbered 1,2, 3, 7 & 9?

      1. It’s almost as though website’s like this are really just about laying click bait…

  12. This is not a balanced counterpoint to yesterday’s blog post. This looks like it has been written by the same person as yesterday, but yesterday there was a bit of passion in the writing; this is like a school debate assignment given to a kid who really doesn’t want to put this argument across. What’s the point? Perhaps in the interest of balance, someone who is passionate about open mics should have written it? But then, they’ve already written it all on Facebook debates recently and don’t want to have to argue again just for the sake of it!

      1. Because I don’t feel passionately enough about open mics! They have lots of good points and a few bad points. Si Genaro and Tim Somerfield wrote pretty good pieces in reply to your first argument. Perhaps you could have used some of their words to put a more plausible counter argument up?

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