How To Host An Open Mic Night (2023)

For potential event organisers, hosting an open mic night can be a fun way to generate a source of income. So, what do you have to consider before becoming a host of an open mic night?Here we discuss some of the methods you should employ when hosting an open mic night with tips on how to start it, run it, how to promote the event, how to organise it, and how it could make you money.

If you’re approaching a venue with the idea of starting a new open mic, then you need to get the venue to see the benefits on offer: open mic nights help to build awareness, support customer retention, improve attendance on quieter nights and can even generate media attention.

If you’re new to open mic nights and before you host one, click this article for more onhow open mic nights work.

How to run an open mic night

There’s a lot to consider before starting and hosting an open mic night.

#1Go to open mic nights

How To Host An Open Mic Night (1)

The first decision as a host is deciding if your night is going to follow any particular genre of music. Would you prefer a specific style or are you open to any music artist turning up to perform at your event?

Do the research; what venues in your planned location host their own open mic nights? On what days? What genres and how regularly are they run?

Check your local area to see what your competition is and how successful or not the nights are. An easy way to do this is to type ‘open mic night’ intoGoogle Maps. See if there is a gap in the market.

#2Find a venue

Once you’ve worked that out you can start to look for a suitable venue. Are you looking at a venue that lends itself torap battles, country, urban or rock nights?

Visit all potential venues to see what the available space for musicians is, think about where the audience will be, where acts will potentially perform and consider any obstacles.

Talk to the managers; are they enthusiastic about the new proposition and prepared to advertise it? Will they give it enough time to grow?

Ideally, you’d like the establishment to provide you with a fee and/or cut on the bar sales, so establish the financial arrangement clearly from the start plus the support that will be given.

(Video) My Experience Hosting an Open Mic Night for the First Time

Open mic rules

How To Host An Open Mic Night (2)

#3Make clear rules

As the host of the open mic, you’re going to need to make some rules. Try to be consistent from day one but don’t be afraid to make a change if something isn’t working, just make sure it’s clearly communicated to participants or audience members well in advance.

  • Follow the rules.There’s no point in setting rules if you can’t follow them. Set the example for everyone else.
  • Look after the equipment.Performance equipment is expensive and can be easily damaged in a room full of people drinking. Make sure you have your eye on it all and that the performers respect what they’re using.
  • Give performers a heads-up.Performers are often there to have a good time with their mates and probably won’t be ready right away. Give them 10 to 15 minutes to get ready to keep things smooth.
  • Keep to the schedule.Make sure performers are on track with their allocated time and be ready to jump in to wrap them up if they overrun.
  • Don’t be negative.This especially includes complaining or talking about any of your artists in a bad way. If you’re overheard moaning, you’ll quickly develop a bad reputation.
  • Watch the other acts.As the host, you need performers to keep coming to your open mic. Being respectful and attentive will make it more likely for people to return so pay attention to everyone.
  • Be aware of those who cut and run.These are the ones who come only for their performance and then leave. It’s poor etiquette and frowned upon by the open-mic community.
  • Crowd control.Everyone has a phone in their hand these days but if interference from ring tones, phone calls or general chat is disturbing the artists you’ll need to find a friendly way of asking them to pipe down.

How to host an open mic the first night andwhich day of the week youshould choose?

How To Host An Open Mic Night (3)

#4Pick a day to run your open mic

You should consider hosting your first open mic night on certain days. Open mics are usually held midweek or on a Sunday when the bar or venue is more likely to be quiet. These are days a venue is more likely to be happy to offer the space to bring customers in as opposed to weekends where they are most likely to have busy successful nights already.

Consideration should be made if the night is not at the weekend both performers and audience members will have to work the following day so consider an early starting time.

#5Decide how often you want to run your nights

Consider doing it once a month or every other week until the open mic establishes itself. Many nights start weekly and then struggle to get enough performers, so our tip is to start off monthly or bi-weekly and then expand when there is a demand.

This is a much better idea than being too ambitious from the outset.

Work with the venue to think of promotional ideas, which could benefit you both. For example, a buy one, get one freestyle drinks or food promotion from 6-7 pm may encourage your artists to arrive early with friends.

Best location to host an open mic night

#6Make sure there are facilities

Remember that you’re catering to musicians who may have to bring instruments or equipment. They may travel via public transportation, so it is beneficial when deciding where to host your open mic event to consider a location close to good public transport links and good parking. The cost of parking is another consideration that may put off potential performers.

Pubs are a popular venue choice, as they will often offer the right facilities like a PA system, but if this isn’t an option, there are plenty of other event spaces you could explore, such as your local youth club, coffee house, church or theatre.

What equipment is needed to run an open mic night?

If the venue does not already have an adequate PA, you’re going to need a PA system whether this is your own or rented. If rented make sure it’s agreed beforehand who is covering the cost of the PA, the venue or you.

Speakers and stands

Smaller rooms will most likely only need one speaker but once your open mic is pulling in larger crowds or in a larger room you’ll most likely need two speakers.

(Video) How to start an Open Mic @BOBRTAMPA

Choose an active (powered) speaker with its own amp, eliminating the need for an additional external amplifier. Stands are an optional extra for getting optimum sound from where the speakers are positioned.

Mixer and cables

Unless you are not having a jam night, a two-channel mixer should be sufficient to get you started. It allows two guitars to be plugged in for ease of changeover and even the most basic of mixers nowadays come with a separate microphone port. Mixers get a fair bit of wear and tear so check all the sliders, knobs and buttons when you’re setting up at the start of the night.

Check the inputs to see what type of cables are needed to connect instruments, most will require a combination of XLR and guitar jack cables. Always have some spares just in case.

Microphone & mic stand

A good quality microphone is essential for vocal amplification, cheaper options tend not to be up to the job. A condenser mic will increase the volume of acoustic guitars. If you’re providing a mic stand, get the right one for the mic to avoid potential disasters mid-performance.

Chair or stool

If you really want to be thorough, solo guitar players sometimes like to sit down, so make sure you are providing a suitable stool or chair for your musicians to sit down on.

What’s the difference between a jam night and an open mic night?

#7Choose a jam or open mic

A Jam night is not an open mic night!Jam sessionstypically have a full house band with a wide range of instruments including electric guitars and drums. Guests sign up to play or sing along with the band.

Open mic themes

#8Pick a theme

Theme nights can keep your open mic night fresh and interesting, they’re also a lot of fun. Maybe throw one into the mix and challenge your regulars to try something different.

In addition, you’ll attract musicians who specialise in that genre and want to show you what they can do. In turn, they’ll bring friends along creating new networking opportunities for everyone.

#9Keep a sign-up sheet

Have some sort of sign-up sheet or board organised and available plenty of time before the start of the night. Online sheets are an option that can guarantee a good turnout if slots are booked in advance but if you’re going to offer this option keep slots free for walk-ins on the night.

Be aware to potentially avoid letting the same people book the same slots each time you’ll alienate new musicians eager to play at your event and you’ll be offering nothing new to the audience.

(Video) How I Started Hosting JAM NIGHT (and open mic)

Running an open mic night & how to make moneyfrom an open mic night

How To Host An Open Mic Night (4)

As host of an open mic night, it’s up to you to create a good atmosphere, keep the night flowing and manage the time slots. Set up early, check the equipment and start the night on time.

Make sure each act knows its performance time and be prepared to adjust it if you have gaps to fill or are running out of time. You’ll have to juggle keeping both the artists and audience interested enough to stay the duration.

Think about short set times with performers on rotation, they’ll have to stay if they want to perform more than one or two songs.

Introduce the acts, show interest in them and make them feel welcome. Be a people person, remember names – write them down if you must, thank the performers on stage and then again personally.

Take photos, link up with the artists onsocial media, and help to promote them by sharing and tagging them. Say something positive about their performance, so they feel valued and want to come back.

If you have to fill gaps at quieter times, have a wide range of materials ready to perform or take pre-recorded background music to play.

#10Set the tone as the host

You’re the host of the night, so remember that the atmosphere of the night will trickle down from your approach and behaviour.

Be accommodating and conscious about spreading a positive attitude. Welcome the audience to the event and perhaps give them a bit of background on why you decided to host an open mic night.

Make the performers feel at ease by giving them a proper introduction and encouraging the audience to applaud. Small gestures like this will result in an overall positive vibe and experience, which is what your guests will likely remember the most.

#11Make the stage your priority

The best open mic venues feel intimate and put the performance over everything else.

A stage or platform is a great way to place the primary focus on the performers. If this isn’t available, clearly allocate a dedicated ‘performing area’ that is sectioned off from the audience.

(Video) How to get through an Open Mic Night - 6 Tips for Musicians

#12Keep it open

It’s called open mic for a reason. While it’s acceptable to pre-book a small handful of musicians the night before, the night should allow for enough flexibility so that musicians can simply rock up at the venue and get a slot to perform.

#13Keep a strict event structure

The ideal length for a single open mic performance is 10 minutes, max of 15. Two or three songs will give the artists a chance to showcase a range of their music.

Unless your open mic night is genre specific try to arrange the lineup so that there is a variation of styles between them, thus avoiding repetition and making it (potentially) more appealing to the audience.

To effectively promote an open mic, there are some very simple promotional things you can do.

This can include creating a Facebook page for the open mic night at least six weeks before the event and encouraging people to invite their friends. Post to the page regularly with images of the venue, to give guests a teaser of what they can expect.

Use social media groups to alert guests of any changes or reminders, and make sure that you post throughout the evening, to encourage those who didn’t attend to join next time.

Promotion is endless but you need to ensure you do enough otherwise how will anyone know about it. Click here for more ideas of promoting an open mic night or any event;

Open mic vs Karaoke

I’m sure we’ve all had a go on the Karaoke machine at some point in our lives! Popular songs are performed to abacking trackwith the lyrics displayed on a screen. It tends to be a social, sing-a-long event in a pub or club unless held at a competition level.

Open mic nights are usually raw and original, with the songs usually being written by the person performing. Backing tracks are rarely used and don’t have the lyrics on a screen.

See the video below for more tips for musicians looking to attend an open mic night:

Have you hosted an open mic night? What steps did you take to launch your event? Can you tell us anything else about how to run an open mic night? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.

(Video) Confessions Of An Open Mic Host


How To Host An Open Mic Night? ›

For those starting out with open mic nights, we recommend getting at least two vocal mics, as well as a condenser mic for guitars that will not plug into the speaker or mixer. And make sure you have the right stands, and that you know how to quickly adjust them for height in between acts.

What equipment do I need for an open mic night? ›

For those starting out with open mic nights, we recommend getting at least two vocal mics, as well as a condenser mic for guitars that will not plug into the speaker or mixer. And make sure you have the right stands, and that you know how to quickly adjust them for height in between acts.

How many songs do you need for open mic night? ›

The time you'll get at an open mic night will vary wildly, but often you'll be allotted 3-4 songs or 20 minutes (or something similar). Make a list of your 5-6 best songs, then designate which of those you'd be willing to drop as time dictates. Always have too much music to play as opposed to not enough.

What do you sing at open mic night? ›

Here are some of the best songs to sing at open mic to really get the crowd going!
  • “Good as Hell” – Lizzo.
  • “Move” – Little Mix.
  • “Wake Me Up” – Avicii.
  • “Happy” – Pharell Williams.
  • “24K Magic” – Bruno Mars.
  • “We Found Love” – Rihanna and Calvin Harris.
  • “Uptown Funk” – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars.
  • “Buttons” – Sia.
Feb 2, 2022

Are open mic nights paid? ›

Some performers may be put off open mic nights if they're shy or don't understand how they work. Here are some common gripes and misconceptions singers may have and why these aren't necessarily a bad thing! 'Singers don't get paid singing at open mic nights': This is true.

What is the difference between open mic night and karaoke? ›

Again, Open Mics aren't karaoke. You can't get up and sing to a track. If you don't play an instrument to accompany your song, your best bet is to partner up with someone who can play for you. If you don't know any players, mingling at local open mics is a great place to meet them!

Can you use backing tracks at open mic nights? ›

Some open mic events may allow backing tracks, but it's always better to find out from the host in advance. Keep in mind that open mic nights are generally aimed at giving musicians a chance to perform live, so playing with a full band or playing acoustic sets is often preferred.

Is open mic Night the same as karaoke? ›

Karaoke is a fun way to to spend a night out with friends or coworkers, while open mic nights are usually for more experienced musicians.

What is the 3 to 1 microphone rule? ›

This rule deals with minimizing the audible phasing problems when summing several microphones to mono. The rule states that the source-to-microphone distance of numerous microphones should be three times the distance between the sound source and the nearest microphone.

Can anyone sing at an open mic? ›

It doesn't matter whether you're a singer, songwriter, musician or rapper, everybody gets the chance to perform in front of a live audience. Open mics are not just fun and easy to sign up for, but they're the best outlets for emerging artists to get that all-important experience of performing in front of an audience.

Are open mics worth it? ›

The short answer is, yes! Open mic nights are a hotbed for emerging talent and incredible musicianship. Not only can you gain a wealth of experience performing your own material & covers, but you can also network with musicians, promoters & talent scouts too.

How do you introduce yourself in an open mic? ›

You should tell about yourself, your name and what are you going to perform. That's it, you should not panic at all. Just say everything in confidence. What was your first open mic experience like?
Now, as you step upon the stage and before you say anything, the prime factors are:
  1. Confidence.
  2. Eye-contact.
  3. Gestures.

How do you host a fun karaoke night? ›

Table of Content
  1. Choose a theme for your Karaoke Party.
  2. Make a Karaoke Party Playlist.
  3. Give Out Prizes to the Top Performers.
  4. Keep Your Guests Happy with Food and Drinks.
  5. Invitations for the Karaoke Gang.
  6. Organize Some Karaoke Games.
  7. Prepare your Equipment.
  8. Go big with a projector.
Jul 15, 2022

What type of speech would be most appropriate for open mic night at a bar? ›

For example, an open mic night audience at a bar would best suit an entertaining speech.

How long should an open mic last? ›

The average set length for an open mic is around five minutes, so pick four or five of your best jokes to include in your set.

What is the golden rule of microphones? ›

In the fields of audiology, sound recording, and engineering audio design, a commonly held adage or golden rule is that the frequency response should be as flat or as “smooth” as possible. This has also been a mainstay in our clinical practice, as well.

How many people are at an open mic? ›

An open mic event is one where 15 or 20 songwriters show up to perform usually between one and three original songs or covers, they put their names on a list, and wait their turn as the caravan chugs along.

What are the benefits of open mic? ›

It also ensures the audience that it's not an auto-replay event. Reinforces Your Message – During the event, you likely have a particular message you want to give to your audience. Look at open mic time as a way to reinforce that message and use every single question as a way to do so.

What is the concept of open mic? ›

: an event in which amateurs may perform (as at a comedy club) usually without auditioning first.

What is the meaning of open mic night? ›

noun. a live show in a club, bar, etc., in which anyone may perform but each performer is given a time limit (often used attributively): an open mic night for stand-up comedians.

How close should you sing to a condenser mic? ›

Cardioid Condenser Microphones

In most cases, you don't want to get closer than 4 inches. Some old school engineers (like Al Schmitt) will default to around 10 inches. For a modern sound, it's best to get a bit closer. Start at around 6 inches and experiment from there.

How far should you stand from the mic when recording? ›

Your best position will be somewhere between 2 and 12 inches from the face of your microphone. You should also place a pop screen filter about 1 to 2 inches from the mic and apply additional measures in your recording space and mix, as needed, based on your choice of distance.

Do you record backing vocals first? ›

A trick to help things blend better is to record the background vocals and then play them back through the studio monitors and record the playback. The distance of the mic placement depends upon the sound of the room. Walk around and find the place where the playback sounds the best, and then place the mic there.

How does karaoke mic and phone connects together? ›

Connect a Microphone to a Phone

If you're using a USB compatible microphone then you simply plug the USB connection into the mic and then plug the other end into the charging port of your phone.

Should my mic be above or below my mouth? ›

Do not hold the microphone directly in front of your mouth. Hold it below or to the side of your mouth to avoid noise from breathing. Keep the microphone element about 1 to 3 inches away from your mouth.

Should a mic be below or above? ›

High frequencies are very directional, meaning that if you turn your head away from the microphone at any point during recording, the recording captured by your mic will sound very dull. You can aim your mic either above or below your mouth to minimize popping sounds or mouth noises.

Should mic be on left or right? ›

The cord on headphones is usually on the left, so it makes sense for the mic to be on the left too so that the mic's cable doesn't have to cross all the way over to the right side, thus reducing the wiring/complexity.

Why do singers tap their fingers on the mic? ›

Direct mouth-to-mic contact is done to increase the volume of the singer's voice, as well as amplify low notes (this is called the proximity effect). It's useful when there's a lot of other onstage interference from loud instruments, other singers or even monitors.

Why do singers tap their microphones while singing? ›

Don't cup the mic!

It's common to see pop singers cupping the mic with both hands. They do this to reduce external noise and to increase the mid-range and bass tone of the voice.

Why do singers turn away from the mic? ›

Why do singers pull the mic away? Some singers will put the microphone away from their mouth when they are just about to hit a high note. They do this because it can help to prevent the signal from breaking up, as sound pressure will decrease the further away the source is – which means less distortion.

How do I make my open mic successful? ›

9 Tips to Rock Open Mic
  1. Know what kind of an open mic it is. Do a little research before you attend the event. ...
  2. Everyone at an open mic knows it's an open mic. ...
  3. Feel totally comfortable with your material. ...
  4. Don't stress about what to bring. ...
  5. Don't be afraid to ask. ...
  6. Don't be afraid to trust. ...
  7. Support other players. ...
  8. Network.

What's the difference between push to talk and open mic? ›

Push to Talk for voice chat allows you to require a button press to activate your microphone. Open mic is the default voice chat setting. If you are a child and your parent hasn't helped you set up your account, you may have a Cabined Account with different features.

Are Yeti mics worth it? ›

So, Is the Blue Yeti Worth It? The Blue Yeti is a solid solo mic, but it isn't the cheapest, and you'll eventually want to buy some additional gear for it. If you already own one, then it'll be more than good enough for recording monologue-style shows or remote conversations.

What do you say before singing a song? ›

The intro may be very brief – just letting everyone know the act's name and song title. Or you might need to give a mini-bio and talk about any significant meaning the song might have. Ask the event organisers or producers exactly what they want, as well as the act.

What is an example of open mic? ›

an event at which anyone is allowed to tell jokes, read poetry, sing, etc. on stage: There's live music with an open mic and a free beer for all performers. It's a bit like open mic night at your local comedy club.

What is a cool way to introduce yourself? ›

15 creative self-introductions
  • Use a name tag. ...
  • Share a unique fact about yourself. ...
  • Express yourself through your clothing. ...
  • Use a custom-made business card. ...
  • Consider your surroundings. ...
  • Uncover similarities. ...
  • Identify a mutual friend or acquaintance. ...
  • Offer your help.
Oct 31, 2022

How do you make karaoke not awkward? ›

5 tips to overcome karaoke stage fright
  1. Breathe. The simple act of breathing deeply in and out has been proven to calm nerves and thwart uneasiness.
  2. Focus on the song. Concentrate on the song, your breathing, the scrolling words. ...
  3. Pass up the shot of liquid courage. ...
  4. Sing with others. ...
  5. Prepare song in advance.
Oct 20, 2017

What do you serve at a karaoke night? ›

Offer your guests a little salty and sweet snack so that the singing energies stay on and the party doesn't peg out at any point. Trendy and easy finger foods is perfect for a karaoke night but you can also refuel your guests with chips, popcorn, candies or fruits.

How do you hold a mic Emcee? ›

Hold the microphone properly

You should hold the microphone close to your mouth, but not too close, as this can cause popping or breathing noises. You should also avoid covering the microphone with your hand or any other object, as this can block the sound or create feedback.

How do you host a successful karaoke night? ›

Our Blog
  1. Set a Theme and Communicate That Theme. Think 60's (it is the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love btw). ...
  2. Start with a Loaded Song Cue. Spend some time coming up with the song list, and set up a cue of songs. ...
  3. Give out Prizes! ...
  4. Let the Booze Flow. ...
  5. Add Basic Lighting. ...
  6. Put Someone in Charge!
Apr 12, 2017

How many minutes do you get at an open mic? ›

The average set length for an open mic is around five minutes, so pick four or five of your best jokes to include in your set. Choose jokes that share a topic or theme to make it easier to segue from one bit to another.

What is a good speech opening example? ›

Thank you for having me. My name is ______ _______, and I am going to be speaking to you today about _______. To begin, _______ is important because…” Suddenly people begin shifting in their seats, checking their phones, reading the program, talking to one another and doing anything but paying attention to you.

Why are open mic nights good? ›

They give you an opportunity to refine your own set, try out any new songs with a friendly audience and experiment musically in a safe environment. Jam and open mic nights are also a means of having fun and providing downtime.

What to expect in a karaoke night? ›

People can sing and dance as a group or give a solo performance of their favourite songs and sometimes the audience do join in. Sometimes the audience listen but they should applaud at the end to acknowledge the effort of the person singing, out of courtesy.


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5. Open Mic Night: Tips For Musicians
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6. Come with me to host an open mic night!
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