August 30th 2023

Mastering Open Mic Nights: Advice for artists

Liverpool’s own singer-songwriter, Matt Decombe, shares valuable insights in this blog article. He offers guidance to fellow artists on effectively capitalising on the prospects that stem from participating in open mic nights.

Open mic nights can be a fantastic way for artists to develop their performance skills, to network within a local music industry and to create new opportunities for themselves.

I am a developing artist myself under the name ‘MATTERS’ and as part of my Masters research I curated a list of tips for how artists can approach open mic nights in Liverpool to further their careers. I am sure you will find this advice useful if you are planning on attending one yourself. It can be a nerve-wracking thing to do but anyone who performs at one should definitely be proud of themselves!

  1. Go to lots of different open mics

There are a huge variety across the city, all offering a different experience. Some allow covers, others only accept original material. Some are very social, others are quieter and artist focused. Some are acoustic in a small room, others you’re up on stage. Don’t end up in a clique at one venue, push yourself to explore and grow.

  1. Network

Network at each open mic. Congratulate acts who have done a good job, congratulate acts who mess up, swap social media handles. Thank the host and get speaking to them, they are a fountain of knowledge and may have some hints and

tips for you as well as opportunities. You may find a future producer or collaborator or even paid gigs; this happens often.

  1. Artist Development

Open mics are a great space to improve your performance skills and to test new material. If a song isn’t working, ask your audience for genuine feedback. If the audience isn’t responding in a way that you wish e.g. talking during your performance, don’t berate them. Think about how you can engage them with eye contact and movement. Audience interaction between songs is also a big part of the artist’s development.

  1. Attendance

Turn up on time, if not early. Open mics are starting to get over subscribed so guarantee your slot. Stay the whole evening and be respectful of the other performers. If you’re not present for other people’s performances, you can’t expect the same back.

  1. Friends

Bring friends along to support. They can take photos and videos that you can use on social media, but they can also provide support and the venues will also appreciate the extra drinks sales.

  1. Attitude.

Don’t be apologetic during your performance. Be confident, yet humble. If you make a mistake, laugh it off and keep on going. Don’t be selfish. Play the number of songs that the venue allows, if the audience chant for more, which does happen, and the host allows it feel free to play more, but don’t demand more than what the host can offer.

  1. Keep things fresh

Switch up your set-list, it will get boring for your audience and peers if you go and perform the same songs all the time, at the same venue. Push yourself to expand and play with new ideas.

  1. Song releases

If you’re releasing new material, think about how you can engage with open mics in the run up to the release to promote your song. Artists also organise song release events and launches at music venues too.

  1. Prepare

Prepare well. Rehearsing beforehand will mean you are confident in your presentation. It may be worth contacting the venue to see what equipment you may need to bring.

  1. Have Fun

Lastly, have fun! It can be easy to put pressure on yourself but remember everyone is there to grow and have a good time!