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Open mics with a full band: how do they work

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by fenderx55, Oct 23, 2009.

  1. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    Hey kids,

    My originals band is trying to branch out in terms of gigging and we'd love to play a place like pianos on the LES. They said that they love what they hear on our site but they want us to come out and play an open mic night to test us out. My question is, what is involved with this? Is it a "show up and play a song" kind of thing? How does gear work, etc?

    This seems like a totally newbish question, it's just not something I've ever contemplated beyond a coffee shop.

  2. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Ask them. Every one I've played or run (way too many to count) has been different in one way or another. ;)
  3. 98dvl


    Jan 31, 2002
    Are they asking you to host an open mic night? Or, do they already have a host...

    Hosting the open mic without pay is a dumb idea (IMO). Do they have a PA, do you have bring a PA, do you have a PA? (All questions to ask them/yourselves). It's a total PITA doing all that stuff if you're not getting compensated for the work. (Again, not worth the effort in my opinion).

    On the other hand, if they've already got the open mic set up, call back and ask what the usual run down is... Ask who the host is and talk to that person. Do they have a full backline set up so all you need to do is show up (and play the instruments that are there)... Or will you need to bring your own guitars? (Some open mic nights will have drums, and amps, so you just bring whatever is required beyond that). Then, show up ready to play. You might be able to play one song, or many. Some guys like just jamming with new people (if you're good at improving, that might be something to consider too). If you're going to bring your band mates, see if you can play a few songs, and see how things go, it would be a lot of fun if people are there. Bring some e-mail list sign up sheets for people to sign if they're interested in seeing you all play again, and show that to the club manager before you leave so he can see how popular you were with the crowd (if there are a good number of names on there).

    Open mic is just that... It's open, and anything can happen.

    Keep in mind too... sometimes "open mic" is code for clubs that really means "we're too cheap to pay a band to come play - so come play and entertain our patrons for free".
  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    exactly. Host an open mic for free? never. Schlep all of your stuff there to play one or two songs for nothing? how close is it and how bad do you really want the gig?

    The only way i would ever do that is if there was a backline available and we only had to bring our guitars and a snare. But I've been doing this a long time.........;)
  5. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    That's exactly how the one I played worked. And it netted us gigs.
  6. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    except we didn't even have to bring a snare.
  7. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    That's what I'm hoping it would be, though I can't tell if there's a backline via their website and I literally haven't been in there in three years. It wouldn't be hosting it, I'm sure it'd be a couple songs and then they do a thing where if they like you, you get a residency there for a month. So that's cool.

    I guess I'll give them a ring, I didn't want to call up and sound like an idiot. Good to know it's different everywhere at least. Thanks folks.
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Bingo! We have a winner... :hyper:

    Seriously, this is the club's way of using you to entertain their customers - at little to no cost to them... :eyebrow:

    How many hoops are you willing to jump through for them? No one likes to pass up a choice new gig. On the other hand, how much is your professional integrity worth to you?

    Your call... :meh:

  9. Why not drop in to see?

    Market research?
  10. txbasschik


    Nov 11, 2005
    Leander, Texas

    I wouldn't do anything until I'd stopped by just to chill and see how they do things.

    The jam we host runs loosely and thusly: Our 3-piece starts the night. We set up the house pa, and my husband and I have our gear there for people to use. (This is why we keep all the tips, plus get paid. Stick, heads, strings, cost $$.)

    How long we play depends on how many people are waiting to come up. We may play 4 to 6 tunes, then get other musicians on stage. Whole bands are free to play together, or mix it up with other players. I'll step down and let another bassist play, and if there are very many, I may not play again that night, and just sing. Or I may play all night because there's no other bassist present.

    We tried using a list, but no one signed it. So we make it a point to introduce ourselves to new people in the bar, in case they are musicians and are wanting to play, but not knowing who to speak to.

    Our jam is small, so we get away with running it pretty fast-n-loose. Your mileage may vary.

    Cherie :bassist:
  11. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    I'm not sure my professional integrity comes into play here. If it were my bar band, no, there is no way I would play a free gig like that. But for the originals band I'm in (22Leroy in my sig)... the NY market is oversaturated, clubs need to weed through the crap and I like to think that we're not crap.

    The real issue I'm having is that places I've traditionally gotten gigs effortlessly, like Sullivan Hall (nèe the lion's den) and the like, have done renovations and rebranded. Their booking agents are looking for a 30 person draw on a Wednesday at 10. We're just starting up. We've packed the Bitter End on a Saturday, but that was a saturday, it's an easier sell to our friends (and ourselves) who work day jobs. We're starting to build a base, but really, without our friends bringing coworkers or family, there's not much you can do at a grass-roots level.

    Pianos and Sidewalk Cafe are a couple of the bars on the LES with something of a built-in audience, which is getting harder to find. To get a gig there would be fantastic. maybe I'll swing by tonight and check out the openmic.

    Plus, I need a new singer for the ol' bar band, so might as well find start doing some research :ninja:

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