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5 Reasons to Love Open Mics

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The Soundfly community has spoken!

About a week ago, I posted a mildly polemical set of arguments for why you should probably avoid open mics — you can read that piece here. As a result, our Facebook page has been blowing up with amazing testimonies and commentary from songwriters, musicians, and music fans from all walks of life about why they believe the opposite is true. Seriously, it’s awesome. Thank you so much for contributing to this discussion! We thought we’d share some of our favorite perspectives on the matter below, because it makes us so happy to see just how much people care about the same music industry navigation conversations we care about.

Contrary to what people may believe about me for having made those arguments, I did in fact grow up honing my chops on open stages, and I darn-well enjoyed it, too! I met tons of people who inspired me in different ways and some have remained my friends for years. I would never say that an open mic isn’t a good idea for a musician in search of their path. But I also wanted to promote the idea that it’s not the only path available when you’re just starting out, and depending on where you are in your journey and the music you’re making, it might not be the right path for you.

But if, like me, you’ve lost the faith, here are five reasons our community gave for why you should continue to believe in the power of the open mic!

1. Open mics are a low-pressure way to learn to perform for an audience.

“Open mics taught me how to sing in front of people.” — Ben Stone

“Absolutely worth it to play open mics. Good reality testing. Great place to test out your stage presence, to meet other creatives, to hear what others do, to get ideas to expand your art, to have laughs and hear good music, to gain confidence… to be a successful musician, you have to win over audiences who are not all your friends, so it’s helpful to play open mics where others have brought fans.” — Ruth Greenwood

“Open mics gave me the confidence to have an attempt at trying to sing in front of anyone. Four or so months ago I decided to start singing with my guitar. Since then I have formed a band. I have four gigs this week singing. They are an opportunity, however you use that is up to you.” — Albi Collier

2. They’re a great way to find other musicians to work with.

“I got into the band I am currently in through an open mic. You just need to find a good one and keep coming back.” — Don Richter

“Playing the same open mic for years has helped me to integrate into a community of musicians/students/artists and has led to not only some of the greatest gigs I’ve ever played but also some of the best friends I’ve ever made. Open mics are awesome.” — Tobias Robertson

3. A good open mic really can open doors.

“My open mic has actually gotten people record contracts. Typically on the busiest nights, we have 5 performers and we rotate like karaoke. Bands have also come and got bookings. I run pro-grade equipment with multi-track recording. Also we support all our artists especially the newbies!” — Charles Raymond Beveridge

4. Open mics spread the love of music.

“I do sound for an open mic in my home city, I’ve heard some amazing acts and some pretty bad ones as well. But the fact that these people are up doing what they love the most is what warms my heart… in my opinion, networking, stage presence, practice and all those other things mentioned are just bonuses… this open mic I do sound for is about spreading the love of music — not nearly enough people play live music anymore. A live music experience is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

Get out, meet people, have fun, enjoy live music. Support your local scene!” — Dag Aymont

5. They’re fun.

“They can also just be… fun.” — Kevin Armstrong

So, what do you think about open mics? Have you had good or bad experiences? Be honest, share your story in the comments below — we’d love to hear it. And thanks again to everyone who contributed to this awesome discussion. Here’s to many more in the future!

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Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a Montreal-based musician, sound artist and improviser who loves giving advice to emerging artists on how to make their tours more effective. He writes, records and performs electroacoustic "concrète" music for tape, oscillators and amplified objects and surfaces, as well as solo guitar. He has performed and released material throughout Europe and the UK, Asia, the US and Canada, mostly with his trio Sontag Shogun.