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Monday, November 22, 2010

Open Mic Etiquette - Tune First

One of the biggest 'time-suckers' at an open mic is when musicians decide to tune their guitar on stage.

This 5-minute process is 'no big deal' if it happens once. But, when 5-people do it, it robs 25-minutes of performance time from others.

May I suggest bringing a small tuner with you? If you don't have one, ask the host to borrow one. Just slip away to a quiet place prior to your performance time and get tuned up.

Your fellow-performers thank you!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Music is such a personal expression that a lot of people don't want to let others influence their writing or their performance.

A number of folks have shared the joy of collaboration with me. I've tried it, and it has increased my enjoyment of writing and performing immensely.

The next time you get an idea for a new tune, invite a fellow musician/writer to help you 'flesh it out.' Enjoy the process and you'll be amazed at the end-result.

The next time you go to an open mic, reach-out to other musicians and invite them to perform with you.

It may take a little 'getting used to,' but I think you'll like it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Become a 'Music Mentor'

Ever had 'one of those days' when everything goes wrong? Then, you show up for a gig or an open mic, you take the stage and all of the days woes melt away?

Wouldn't it be great if you could share that wonderful feeling with others? Well, now you can!

Just reach out to a friend, co-worker, or relative and become their 'music mentor.' It's actually very easy to do. Here are some tips.

- Find out if your friends has ever played an instrument or been in a band.
- If they are an experienced, but dormant player, invite them to attend an open mic with you.
- If they don't have any musical experience, bring them to an open mic and then offer to 'get them started.'
- Offer to show them a few chords on guitar or keys and get them playing a few songs quickly.
- Get them on stage at an open mic as soon as possible.

The joy of music-making is something that all musicians can share with others. Just reach-out to one-person.

You may change their life forever.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Open With a Cover Song

When people are hearing/seeing a performer for the first time, they are making their own judgment as to whether or not the performer is worthy of a listen. If the performer plays an original song first, the listener must then judge the quality of the song as well as the quality of the performance. Although this doesn't sound like a huge undertaking, it actually can be.

The average American is in 'sensory overload.' They are bombarded by media messages at every turn. They are forced to make split-second decisions on where to direct their attention.

If you lead with a popular cover song, the listener is drawn by the familiarity of the tune and will be more likely to pay attention long enough to pass judgment on your performance. Once they like you, they are more likely to listen to your original music and obscure covers.

Think of it in terms of the direct mail business. Getting people to open the 'junk mail' is the hardest part. Once they pop the envelope, the chance for a sale goes up exponentially.

Open with a cover and you'll find that you'll have more people paying attention to your performance.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Use Open Mics To Test New Songs

Open mics are a great way to test out new material. They provide a friendly, supportive atmosphere that allows you to 'go crazy' and try tunes that you might not feel comfortable trying at a 'paid' gig.

Before you play the new song, tell the audience what you're doing. Ask them for their feedback. Something like, 'This is a new tune for me. I'm thinking about adding it to my play-list. I'd like to know if you think it's a 'keeper.'

Not only will you get great feedback, but this tactic will get people to pay attention to your performance, and that's never a bad thing.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Open Mic - Auditions

Many venues use their open mic as a way to audition new acts for paid gigs.

If you are looking to get hired at a venue, and you're auditioning at an open mic, here are a few pointers...
  • Play the 'covers' that are appropriate for the 'paid gig' that you're trying to get
  • Limit any 'originals' to one, unless you're auditioning for an 'original-only' gig
  • Order something to eat and drink
  • Bring some people with you
  • Tip the staff
  • Come early and stay late
  • Socialize with the other performers
  • Make-nice with the host and with management
  • Go with a minimal gear setup
Here are some things to avoid...
  • Bringing in outside food and drink
  • Playing your set and leaving quickly
  • Acting like you are 'God's gift to the world' and all others are beneath you
  • Making too many demands on the host regarding equipment, etc.
I've seen people ignore these things and absolutely 'crash and burn' on many occasions.

If you want to make the most out of your audition, and possibly land a paid gig, take this stuff to heart.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dealing With Venue Management

I've been working with bar/restaurant management for about fourteen years. As a group, they are tough and fair. If you deliver, they will treat you right.

What happens when they don't 'do the right thing?'

I recently had a venue owner tell me that they were going to reduce the fee paid for an open mic that I run, because I wasn't going to be there. They thought the 'take' for the night would be lower, and therefore their fee should be lower.

Of course, the 'take' for the night was right in the 'normal' range for the open mic, despite my absence.

My options were as follows:

1) Tell the owner that the fee is set and it's not negotiable
2) Suck it up and consider the 'big picture'

I chose option 2.

I could have 'stood my ground,' but if it led to my losing that venue as a client, it would have been a terrible financial decision.

I accepted a little less money on one night, kept the owner happy, and dealt with a slightly bruised ego.

It's easy to get frustrated and 'fly off the handle' when dealing with venue management. Just remember to take a deep breath and consider the 'big picture' before you get in their face!