"THE IMPORTANCE OF OPEN-MICS"
Open-mics are interesting things. Like life, they can be, to quote Forrest Gump's arguably most famous simile, "...like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Unless specifically themed, audience members could hear anything from comedy to spoken-word poetry to music. Despite their unpredictability, as you never know who or how many might show up and when, their general lack of fiduciary benefit for any performer minus the host, and the potential wide disparity in ability levels, I believe that open-mics are a valuable part of our local performing arts scenes. To learn what they can potentially offer you, continue reading below.
They offer valuable practice and performing experience. Playing alone to no one in your living room is definitely low-stress, but anyone with aspirations of anything bigger than playing to the cat needs to play in front of people. Open-mics are a great way to hone your craft in front of a small, and usually forgiving, audience. You can learn what works, what doesn't, and where. It can help to ease, or preferably conquer, performance anxiety. Also, learning how to verbally handle/manage a crowd is very important. For musicians, we need to keep them engaged between songs and while tuning. For comedians, learning how to effectively deal with hecklers is an invaluable skill. It can help us look more professional and polished.
They offer exposure. Open-mics are a great way to get some free publicity for yourself or your band. They can be an effective way to reach people you might not have been able to despite your numerous social media platforms. If it's a venue that has regular live performances, a good showing at an open-mic might yield regular paid work.
They offer mutual support. Supporting live performance is critical to its survival. The relationship between performer and venue is symbiotic. They support us by offering the space to perform, and potentially paying us, and we support them by advertising that we're playing there, which helps to bring new and repeat business through the door. Also, by liking/following fellow performers' social media pages, we develop community and help to increase one another's internet presence and success potential.
They offer networking opportunities. Open-mics are a great place to meet like-minded folks who are usually in similar boats where we can discuss our craft, share ideas, potentially collaborate, and perhaps even develop protégé/mentor relationships, etc.
They offer learning opportunities. There is no shortage of things to learn about at open-mics. These could be anything from new chords and their variations, to new gear, new artists, new songs, and/or new genres, etc. For me, that's sometimes the most enjoyable part.
What do open-mics offer you that hasn't been listed here? Please let me know and rep your favourite open-mic spot in the comments below.