It's all about the song
Getting Started The Open Mic Nights.
Since there are more and more people coming into all this writing, performing, getting out of their living rooms,
much of it is becoming like that old conundrum:,
“HOW DO YOU GET A JOB WITHOUT EXPERIENCE? HOW DO YOU GET EXPERIENCE WITHOUT A JOB?
“HOW DO YOU GET YOUR MUSIC ‘OUT THERE’ WITHOUT BEING HEARD?
“HOW DO YOU GET HEARD TO GET YOUR MUSIC ‘OUT THERE?”
Well across the world, and particularly in places like NASHVILLE, the “entry level” position is the OPEN MICS.
It is where people show up at the venue, sign in, wait their turn in line, hear a ton of others, get their chance to play,
play, and build their relationships. Easy Peasy. Some require calling a number during the day and getting a name on a list.
The average open mic will have between 25-on the low side, to sometimes as many as 50 or 60 all playing one to two songs.
So it brings us to the most important thing to remember:
Can’t get it back and there is never more of it. Everything takes time. From the moment you show up, other people performing time you are onstage. Make the best of yours.
#1. INTRODUCE YOURSELF TO THE HOST.
Hosts are usually the people behind the sound boards, signing people in. Introduce yourself, find out who you follow, be nice but don’t take up too much time. They are usually busy, so don’t be a distraction.
#2. KNOW YOUR PLACE IN LINE.
Two-three people before you perform, make sure you are in tune, keyboard players, have all your cables, pedals, stands, or whatever you need, ready to go on. If you need help, make sure you have it ahead of time. Hosts can’t always help out.
Guitar players, be in tune. Usually at the back of the room or outside. INVEST IN A TUNER AND USE IT!
#3. GET ONSTAGE AND PLUG IN.
When it is your turn, plug the instrument in, the chords are usually in front of you. If you are in a “ROUND” make sure you know your place in the seating. When the sound person looks at you, give them SIGNAL. Make sure they can hear you. Don’t just say “CHECK, CHECK” sing a bit. Give some volume. Get as loud as you’re going to.
#4. DON’T BORE US, GET TO THE CHORUS.
Introductions at this point, besides your name, where you’re from, etc. are probably unneeded. You don’t need to set up your entire song. Let the song do that. You do want to say WHERE YOU ARE FROM because you might have some home town buddies you need to meet.
#5. KEEP YOUR SONGS COMPACT.
Unless you are a great instrumentalist, keep your songs on point. Limit the turn arounds, don’t play the solos. Nothing like dead air, with NO SOLO, to get more and more boring. If there is a good player in your round, they might play something, but don’t depend on it. Again you are working on a TIME factor. Your entire presentation should be no more than FIVE MINUTES.
#6. GET OFF THE STAGE
Once you’re round is finished, unplug, (making sure the sound person knows you are doing it) and MOVE OUT OF THE WAY for the next round. Don’t bring your case or too many things onstage with you. Just clogs up the flow. Only what you can carry on and off.
#7. BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS.
You don’t want people talking over YOU, so DON’T TALK OVER THEM. If you want to talk to others, go to the BACK of the room. Keep your VOICE VOLUME DOWN! WE all want to be heard. But ONSTAGE. NOT OFF!
#8. COLLECT BUSINESS CARDS OR OTHER INFORMATION.
They might not contact you but you can contact THEM. You might want to write down who they are and where you met them on the back of the card. Or just get their info on your phone and FOLLOW UP THE NEXT DAY!!!
#9. DON’T GHERM. Don’t give out CD’s UNLESS ASKED. Can be legal issues. But if you get to know them, trade out.
#10. ENJOY YOURSELF AND BE PATIENT.
Hopefully, if you are on top of your game, people will start inviting you into the invited shows, into writing sessions, publishers, or other industry connections. But it ALL STARTS HERE.
Like NSAI, it ALL STARTS WITH THE SONG.
But then there are a few million steps PAST THE SONG.
by Marc Alan Barnette