Ah, I love an open mic night. The chance to hear new songs that I didn’t write, in an intimate setting, and to meet the songwriters.
Do you attend open mic nights? Do you perform your songs there? Do you listen while other songwriters are performing?
A lot can be (and has been) said about open mic etiquette. So I won’t spend a lot of time here, reminding you to show the other songwriters as much respect, during their performance, as you would like them to show you when you’re performing. And don’t just leave after you’ve performed your song.
The Secret Reason for Performing Your Songs
You could use an open mic night as an opportunity to get together with your songwriter friends and play the same song every time. At least they’ll know the words and maybe sing along.
But then you’d be missing a huge opportunity. The open mic night can play a pivotal role in the lifetime of each of your songs. What I’m talking about here, is the power of the open mic to be a test of your song’s power to move an audience. Even if you’re not a performing songwriter, you can have a performer share your song and gain the same benefit. In an ideal moment, you’re going to share a song that is truly ready to be released on the world, and you’ll be able to gauge that by how the audience reacts at the open mic. Did they understand the song? Did they listen intently to the performance? Did they respond? Did they talk to you about it afterwards?
You can’t see what parts of your song are working – and which parts aren’t working – after you’ve released your song to a world of listeners. Performing your fresh songs for a live audience is the best way to measure their response, and an open mic is low-risk – it’s not your release show, and you can keep making changes to the song and performing it again at another open mic.
But Nobody’s Paying Attention Here
Sure, there are the challenges of getting the attention of a room full of strangers, probably after they’ve had a few drinks, and maybe when they’re not there for the music. And often the open mic night audience is made up purely of other songwriters, who are listening to your songs differently than a general audience would listen. But give them your best, and give them a chance to react!
If At First, You Don’t Succeed…
After you’ve performed, and paid attention to the response, consider whether there’s any rewriting still to be done on your masterpiece before you invest time and money into recording your song for worldwide release.
And if you’re not sure what to make of the response, try again at a different open mic night!
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