Open mics are a good way to build buzz and momentum for your career. They’re also a great way to practice your performance skills, network with other artists, and get live feedback on how you sound in front of an audience.
Make connections with artists and audience members
One of the most important things you can do at an open mic is make connections with other artists and audience members. You want to be friendly and talk to people. It’s great if you can get to know them, but even just starting a conversation will help build your credibility as an artist. You can learn from each other and maybe even collaborate on something in the future!
To start off, try talking about your music. How did it come together? What inspired it? Who are some of your musical influences? Then ask them about their music—how long have they been performing, where do they draw inspiration from, what’s one song they’d recommend for someone who hasn’t heard them before (and why).
Get on stage
If you want to be a great performer, you need to get on stage. This is the only way to get over your fear of performing and establish yourself as a performer. Remember that it’s not a competition, so don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t like your performance—it’s more about letting people have fun than being “the best” at what they do. One of the best things about performing at open mics is that they give you a chance to test out your material and get feedback from an audience.
- Be confident but not arrogant
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice
Evaluate the crowd
Pay attention to the makeup of your audience, and look for people who are enjoying themselves. If you’re trying to play comedy, watch for laughter; if you’re playing music or poetry, watch for smiles and nods—but don’t get discouraged if there aren’t any. Some crowds just aren’t into it!
Do something a little different to stand out.
I have seen it plenty of times: someone performs their song and it’s good but not great, and then they get up there again and the same thing happens. Make sure you do something in your performance that is different from the previous one. Don’t just perform your song, add something special to it. Maybe add a new instrument or change up the arrangement, try to do something that will add an unexpected twist on what people heard from you last time around.
If you’re performing, bring something to sell. If you’re not performing, bring something to give away. Merchandise can be a CD or an EP, it can be a t-shirt or another piece of clothing with your logo on it, or it could even just be stickers with your logo on them (which are also really cheap and easy to produce). Having something physical that people can take home helps reinforce their memory and makes them more likely to think about your music later on down the road when they see someone else wearing one of your shirts at the grocery store or whatever other place they go out in public.
Bring your friends to support you
The audience will be supportive of you and your fellow performers, but sometimes it’s nice to have a friend there to give you a boost. They can remind you that this is fun and not scary at all; they can help keep the momentum going by encouraging the crowd; and—most importantly—they’ll give you that honest feedback you need to continue to improve.