Open Mic Nights for Singers: How They Work & What Happens

Ever wondered what an open mic night is or how they work? Ever thought “what are the best open mic night near me”? Although we can tell you everything a singer would need to know, your best bet would be to go out to a local open mic night. Scout out the venues near your local area and find out how their own nights work. Once you’ve found one you like, try to attend maybe one or two every week.

If you are serious about a career in the music industry, performing at local open mic nights for singers is a must!

What is an open mic night and how do they work?

An open mic, or open mike, is a live music event held at a small venue such as a café, pub, hotel or nightclub. Amateur singers, bands, poets and other creatives are given the opportunity to grab the microphone and perform covers and originals in front of a live audience. For example, there are many pubs dedicated to open mic singing in London.

What happens at an open mic night will vary greatly and may be restricted to certain styles and skills.

What happens at an open mic night?

Want to know more about what open mic nights are like? Read this supporting article on what are open mic nights and what to expect.

open mic nights for singers

The benefits of singing at open mic nights

  • Singing at open mic nights benefits not only for your vocals but also your performance skills.
  • Open mic nights help you to pick up skills such as interacting with the crowd between songs to avoid any silent patches. For example, not putting your hands in your pockets during vocal breaks.
  • Getting on stage will help singers build confidence and eliminate nerves and stage-fright.
  • For singers, open mic nights help with networking: try singing at nights all over your area: speaking to other singers and acts will open up more performance opportunities, shared gigs, collaborations, and other gig opportunities.
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open mic singing

Open mic misconceptions

Some performers may be put off open mic nights if they’re shy or don’t understand how they work. Here are some common gripes and misconceptions singers may have and why these aren’t necessarily a bad thing!

  • ‘Singers don’t get paid singing at open mic nights’: This is true. However, to start making money from your shows, you need to build up a solid fan base and open mic nights are a good place to start improving your skills and gaining exposure in the local area.
  • ‘There won’t be many people there’: Again, this can be true. You could use this to your advantage. It gives more opportunity to interact with the people there and get used to being watched by a crowd if you haven’t done any proper gigs yet. It’s all practice as you develop your ability to perform your songs live without the opportunity to stop and start like in a rehearsal.
  • ‘People at open mic nights won’t like your style’: Don’t worry about people not liking your style of music. Quite often there will be a variety of musical styles on show.
  • ‘Your audience is just musicians and their friends’: While this may be the case at some venues, that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy your music and want to hear you again. Also, supporting other musicians can lead to building a rapport and potential gig partners in the future.
  • ‘The venue is exploiting you’: Many pubs and bars use open mic nights to attract customers on quiet nights. Many may not be in a financial position to pay the acts. While not a paid gig, playing on stage is a great experience for those starting out. Whether you’re a singer, venue owner or a customer, open mic nights can be beneficial for all.

What is an open mic night for?

Open mic nights give singers the opportunity to showcase new material. It’s the perfect environment to see how it is received by a live audience. After your performance, you could ask for any feedback and make any additional changes to the song to give it more appeal. You could use it as a chance to write a proper setlist so you keep the best-received songs in. You’ll see how the audience responds and remove any that didn’t get much of a reaction.

Many famous performers have gotten their start performing at an open mic, including George Ezra who used to perform at The Gallimaufry in Bristol.

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hosting an open mic night

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Open mic nights near me

As well as our nationwide talent competition, we also regularly feature top 10 lists of the best local open nights in and around the country.

For example, we’ve recently updated our guide to the top 10 local open mic nights in Manchester. You can browse some more of our recently featured cities and areas below.

Open mic singing in London

what is an open mic night

London has the largest amount of open mic singing nights in the UK. People are spoilt for choice when searching for open mic nights in London. Here is a short list of some of the best local venues in the capital city as of March 2019.

  1. Troy Bar in Shoreditch, London
  2. The Albany in Deptford, London
  3. The Railway in Streatham, London
  4. Woodys’ Bar & Kitchen in Kingston Upon Thames, London
  5. Upstairs at the Ritzy in Brixton, London
  6. The Cavendish Arm in Stockwell, London
  7. The Duke’s Head in Richmond, London
  8. The Hideaway in Holloway, London
  9. The Finsbury in Manor House, London
  10. Coach Makers in Marylebone, London
  11. The Gallery Cafe in Cambridge Heath, London
  12. White Horse, Richmond, London
  13. Pub on the Park in London Fields, London
  14. Hugos in Kilburn, London
  15. Cellar Door in Covent Garden, London

Do you sing at open mic nights? What are your experiences? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Joy Angelthorn

I find Open Mic nights a great way to enjoy local talent. Would love to see a way to cultivate greater interest in doing that. How to show the value of attending this sort of entertainment and the huge benefits to the community for supporting local talent? A question that often runs through my mind.

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