Open Mic Nights for Singers

For singers, open mic nights may not be quite on a par with an actual gig, but playing at an open mic night will have its benefits for you. Your best bet would be to scout which venues in your local area host the events, then try and attend maybe one or two every week. If you are serious about a career in the music industry then performing at open mic nights for singers is a must!

What is an open mic night?

An open mic night is a live event held at a venue such as a café, pub, hotel or nightclub at which amateur singers, bands, poets and other creatives are given the opportunity to perform in front of an audience. Open mic nights vary greatly and may be restricted to certain styles and skills.

For more on what are open mic nights and what to expect.

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.
  • Open mic nights help singers with confidence and eliminating nerves and stage-fright.
  • For singers, open mic nights help with networking: try singing at open mic 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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Why open mic nights have a bad rap and why you should ignore it!

Here are some common gripes with open mic nights for singers 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 maybe 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, which hold open mic nights for singers, 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 open mic nights is great experience for those starting out and open mic nights for singers, venue owners and customers can be beneficial for all.

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

You have the opportunity to showcase new material and see how it is received. This way 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 set list so you keep the best received songs in and remove any that didn’t get much of a reaction.

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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