Why Open Mics Are A Waste of Your Time… And Everyone Else’s

There are many artists right now that are hitting up all the open mics they can. Whether it’s musicians or stand up comedians, they are hitting the pavement. What they are doing is not industrious. In fact, it’s a waste of time. The reason why it’s a waste is simple. The people that go to these as audience members, are not the right demographic. They perform every night at local bars, clubs, etc. to a crowd of people who don’t show any interest in their performance(s). It’s counterproductive to an up and coming artists’ progress because impressing people can be a hit or miss. Most people at bars and clubs are there to party to popular music, socialize with their friends, meet new people, etc. They’re also busy on their phones texting. It’s rare for an artist to do an open mic and get discovered. There are very few agents, and business insiders going to these spots. They know that “anyone” can jump on stage, and by “anyone”, it usually means talentless people. There are those rare gems, but they are few and far between in many cases.

The “What If” Argument

People often talk about that “what if” moment. Sure, there is a “what if” moment in terms of entertainment. However, the business of open mics is so hit or miss, that it’s a waste. You could play 100 open mic nights, and get nowhere fast. However, you play 1 record label showcase, and you can get signed. Which one would you prefer as an artist? In order to progress, you have to play larger crowds, and places that are not associated with lackluster talent. Most talent can’t connect with individuals at a random club or coffee shop, because they are filler entertainment, not the main draw.

Competitive Open Mic Is Different

The bigger issue is artists aren’t able to connect with people properly when they perform at bars and clubs where most people go for everything else but the Open Mic. Open Mics are best when they are structured like talent shows. For musicians, one of the best ways to compete or rather, get more attention is through open mic nights that are competitive. The structure of this is usually deemed, “battle of the bands” or “talent showcase”. These are areas where the audience either pay to get in, or vote on the winners. That means everyone has to bring their “A” game. If not, then they will either get booed off the stage, or they are not going to progress to the final rounds. Competition is not something to stray from. It’s easy to run and hide. However, these showcases can help with the audience. If you want to get in front of an audience that is open to what you’re doing, seek these out instead of random open mics where anyone can sign up.

This is not the same as a free gig. Free gigs are fine, because they already have a crowd coming or have promotion behind it. If you’re going to play an open mic, chances are there isn’t a crowd coming or there isn’t promotion in which you are favored. It’s a random selection of people that show up. Prebooking is rare on these, and getting noticed is difficult beyond belief. In the end, be wise about whom you put your art in front of, as there are some that aren’t interested, and you’ll find them at these random events.