For an independent musician, one of the best jobs in the world is serving as an open mic night host in a bar, coffeeshop, or club. Open mic night hosts get to network with dozens of new musicians each month, they hear the best music in their towns, and they’re instantly visible. That means that as a host, you’ll be able to get better gigs and improve your stage presence. Of course, before you reap these rewards, you actually have to find an open mic and become the host.
Here are a few tips for finding a job as an open mic night host in your city.
Find and visit open mics. The first thing you’ll want to do is to visit open mic nights in your area. This serves a few purposes. You’ll be able to see whether any open mic nights around have only one host, at which point you can ask that host if they need help. This can be a fast way to get an open mic night host job, and you’ll already have a well-established gig.
You’ll also be able to learn about open mics in your area, including what works and what doesn’t work and the amount of work that goes into hosting. This is vital if you’re planning on approaching a bar to try to get a job as an open mic night host.
Plan your open mic. Find a bar, club, or coffeehouse in your area that has a good location and a good room for music (where people aren’t talking too much or playing music through a jukebox). Ask the bar manager about setting up your open mic.
Know which day of the week the open mic will be on-it’s best to plan it for a day when nothing else is going on in your town-what time it will start and end, how you will promote it, etc. Many bars will automatically give you a chance, because it’s a pretty low risk for them. They’ll get a lot of business and the chance to book incoming bands easily, so they’re gaining at least as much as you. The trick is to approach confidently to stand a better chance of landing an open mic night job.
Find a co-host. It’s a good idea to have a co-host for your open mic night if you’re a serious independent musician, because there are bound to be a few dates where you can’t come in due to another gig or engagement. Two hosts also keeps your show fresh and there’s a good chance that the co-host will be able to bring in more regular visitors.
It’s best to work on an even split once you find a co-host; you’ll host every other week, or whatever the frequency of the open mic night might be.
Insist on pay. Last but not least, make sure you’re getting paid. Being an open mic night host is a big job. You’ll have to stay organized, keep a list of performers, and keep new acts coming in to the bar. Ask for about $50 a night or at least free drinks. If you’ve found a venue that you really want to work with, but they don’t quite pay enough, you can ask for less-still, make sure you’re getting something. If you’re taking an open mic night job, you deserve to get paid.
Have any other tips for getting a job as an open mic night host? Post in our comments section below.