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Hosting an Open Mic, A Practical Guide

So you’ve decided to take my advice and host an open mic night of your own. Great! Let’s get started.

Below is a three step check list to get you off the ground in an informed way. Familiarize yourself with each idea and you’ll be well on your way to making your own event a reality.  

Step 1  Understand the format

Let’s start at the begining. What is an open mic night?

An open mic night is an event in which amateur performers are allowed the opportunity to share a short set of their material on a public stage. Open mic nights commonly feature music, comedy, or poetry. For our purposes, we will focus on the idea of an open mic featuring music. Here’s how a typical evening goes down:

  • The event is usually staged in a bar, coffee house, or other type of performance venue.

  • The host arrives early and provides a sign up sheet.

  • The sheet is placed in a prominent place and interested parties sign up on a first-come-first-serve basis.

  • At start time, the host kicks off the show by providing a short set of music.

  • Then the host starts inviting the registered performers to the stage to perform a short set of their music; usually just two or three songs.

  • The evening continues in this manner until all of the performers on the list have had a chance to perform.

Step 2  Understand the open mic from a business perspective

When you start your own open mic and enter into a partnership with a venue, you need to understand the business imperatives at work:

Open mics are generally conducted on “off” nights when sales are slow. Open mics can provide a major increase in traffic to paricipating venues on these otherwise unprofitable evenings.

Let’s say on a given night you attract ten performers and they all bring a friend or two to watch them play. Then you’ve got 25-30 new customers in the house.

The venue will likely be quite happy becuase they’ll have more customers and a whole night’s worth of entertainment for one low price.

The bottom line is you must be providing a consistent customer base to the venue if you expect them to keep handing over money to you on a weekly basis.

Never forget this reality and you’ll be well on your way to success.

Step 3  Procure a venue Continue reading