Open Mic Etiquette

Open Mic Etiquette

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    Every open mic has its own vibe, but they all tend to share many common characteristics. The following are some guidelines to help new open mic performers be better informed prior to attending their first open mic and possibly provide some tips for veteran open mic musicians attending an open mic at a new venue.

1) Getting Ready - When preparing to go to an open mic for the first time, there are some things to consider. Use the The Open Mic List to help you determine the following and assist you in contacting the venue where the open mic is being held: Is the open mic geared toward a particular genre of music? What time does it start? Is it going to be running as scheduled? (Open mics are sometimes cancelled or rescheduled for various reasons.) Will any house instruments be provided? (Venues will often have a house guitar for performers to use. Sometimes, they have a drum set and/or keyboard, etc., as well.) Is the open mic acoustic only?

2) Arrival - When you arrive at the open mic, start by finding out who the host is and introduce yourself to him/her. He/She will let you know where the list (signup sheet) is and answer any questions you may have. Ask them what the limit is on number of songs/length of time you can perform. Let the host know if this is your first open mic or first time playing at their venue.

3) The List - Lists or signup sheets are what allow the open mic to run smoothly. The list provides the host with the names of the performers that want to play. Some lists are simply numbered. Other lists may have start times. If a time is listed, please consider it an estimate. Please do not add yourself to the list if it is full. This is considered to be very rude. If the list is full, politely ask the host if they think they may be able to squeeze you in.

4) In the Audience - While you're in the audience watching others perform, make sure to clap for the acts when they're done performing. If you think someone played well, had a nice voice, or wrote a creative song, let them know. Everyone appreciates a little positive feedback! Please purchase something from the venue, since open mics don't support themselves. The vast majority also don't have a cover charge. Make sure you tip your barista/server/bartender as well. 'They're working hard so you don't have to!'

5) Before Your Performance - Before it's your turn to take the stage, make sure your instrument(s) are accessible, tuned, and ready to go. Also, make sure that you have anything you need to bring up on stage with you. This will make things much less stressful for you and help the open mic run smoothly.

6) During Your Performance - RULE #1 IS TO HAVE FUN!!! Try not to be nervous. Everyone there, regardless of their skill level, has been in your shoes before! If you make a mistake, keep going. Chances are no one noticed, and if they did, it was nowhere near as bad as it seemed to you!

7) After Your Performance - Please gather your things and leave the stage as quickly as possible, and then enjoy the positive feelings that come from performing in front of others! Stay as long as you can to listen to the performers who come after you. It's the polite thing to do, since they provided an audience for your performance. Plus, it's just fun to hear live music!

Have fun at your next open mic!
Please tell the host you saw it on The Open Mic List!

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