Announcement
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Thoughts on "Open Mic" nights...?

Collapse
X
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Thoughts on "Open Mic" nights...?

    I have seen a trend locally over the past couple of years that has me concerned. Several of the local bars have abandoned booking bands, and are holding "open mic nights" instead. These bars aren't my normal clientele anyway (they never did pay enough for my groups), but it got my attention when a couple of friends asked if I would come join them and play a few tunes. These guys don't play actual paying gigs, so they just see it as a fun time with buddies drinking beer and don't give it a second thought.

    From my perspective, it is a matter of the bar trying to get free "entertainment", knowing that the 10 guys who all show up to hack their way through a half-dozen covers each bring a couple of friends and buy a few beers. I get it, and can see why the bar would do it as long as they can put people on stools with glasses in hand.

    That said, it rubbed me wrong when a singer friend asked if I would come sit in "to help raise the bar on stage and put on a good show". From my perspective, why would I go "put on a good show" for nothing when I am already booked with paying gigs for the next 8-9 months? If the owner wants to "raise the bar", I am perfectly willing to accept a paying gig there - and I'd host the first set as open mic if they would like me to....but not as a freebie. I'm pretty certain that my buddy honestly just wants to have me help him sound better on his stuff, and probably never considered it from my perspective, but I still feel that we (musicians) shouldn't be supporting a "give-away" to a bar that isn't booking acts and paying them.

    If the bar did open mic nights mid-week, then booked bands on the weekend, I would probably feel differently....but they don't.

    Am I being unreasonable in viewing it this way? Any thoughts on how to deal with this sort of request without coming across like a jerk?
    Lease this space!

  • #2
    No, you are spot on. That trend kind of came and went here, now they at least pay the host band a reasonable amount essentially for one set and the rental of the backline.
    Most bar owners don't typically care about the quality of the music, just what they ring up over the night. I've been fortunate to have found a few around here who actually care about the music and are willing to pay the hosts a decent amount, so I still host jams [going on five years at different venues with different groups].

    But, to be fair, would it hurt you to go back up a buddy on a couple of songs [assuming the backline is good and the drinks reasonable]? I do on occasion, but I also try to plug my bands when I do. Every now and then it pays off with a decent paying gig.
    Last edited by daddymack; 01-10-2019, 02:55 PM.
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

    Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by daddymack View Post
      Most bar owners don't typically care about the quality of the music, just what they ring up over the night.
      Well, this certainly makes sense, as we all know that in the end we are beer salesmen, not musicians. That said, a club that gets a reputation of having better performers will likely end up drawing better crowds over time, and people will definitely stay longer and drink more if the environment is enjoyable.

      But, to be fair, would it hurt you to go back up a buddy on a couple of songs [assuming the backline is good and the drinks reasonable]? I do on occasion, but I also try to plug my bands when I do. Every now and then it pays off with a decent paying gig.
      I might drop in once just to keep the relationship up, but I honestly see no potential benefit for any of my regular gigs. These places aren't going to hire a 7- or 8-piece horn band, nor do they build any influence over my steady diet of theater pit gigs. FWIW, I stopped in to look at one of these two places the other night, and there was NO backline provided, two mics on straight stands, one crappy monitor and one small "$h1t on a stick" FOH speaker.

      A few years ago, they were putting actual bands in the same space, but the bands had to bring their own gear. Heck, the rehearsal sound rig I have in my barn would be a massive upgrade.......
      Lease this space!

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, then I am in total agreement...not worth the effort. If the house won't even put up a back line somehow...it seems pointless. I was laboring under the misconception that you could just show up with your axe and a cable, plug in, play and pack it in your case, have a drink, and leave.

        Looks like they are more geared to spoken word than music.

        My band has three complete PAs depending on location and configuration [5 piece up to 9 piece] that range from an 8 channel 2000w/side rig for outdoor, a 12ch 1000w/side rig for indoor and a 16 ch rig [mine] for the full horn section indoor shows, plus either hot spot monitors or floor monitors, and we can mix and match as needed. Most of the time our PA rigs are vastly superior to the PAs in the places we play, but many club owners are offended when we ask to shove their stuff back and put up our PA/monitors...until they hear the difference. Sad state of affairs...
        "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

        Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

        "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

        Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by daddymack View Post
          Well, then I am in total agreement...not worth the effort. If the house won't even put up a back line somehow...it seems pointless. I was laboring under the misconception that you could just show up with your axe and a cable, plug in, play and pack it in your case, have a drink, and leave.

          Looks like they are more geared to spoken word than music.
          Generally a couple of guys on stools with steel-strings.

          My band has three complete PAs depending on location and configuration [5 piece up to 9 piece] that range from an 8 channel 2000w/side rig for outdoor, a 12ch 1000w/side rig for indoor and a 16 ch rig [mine] for the full horn section indoor shows, plus either hot spot monitors or floor monitors, and we can mix and match as needed. Most of the time our PA rigs are vastly superior to the PAs in the places we play, but many club owners are offended when we ask to shove their stuff back and put up our PA/monitors...until they hear the difference. Sad state of affairs...
          Truth. I have a pretty basic setup with 7 powered main/monitor cabs and two subs (Yamaha DXR/DXS), with a rack X32 console. Better than the crappy clubs, not as good as one with a "real" system. I don't haul it around without some $$$ being on the table - though I often don't charge my own bands anything above an even cut.
          Last edited by SteinbergerHack; 01-11-2019, 12:56 PM.
          Lease this space!

          Comment


          • #6
            I have attended more than a few over the years. Some places have really bad PA gear, it's not even worth calling PA gear.

            I have been to the Guthrie Center's. They mic all acts, it's get on and get off with no messing around with plugging in anything that's not on stage.

            Open mics do not survive, as such. It is not enough to keep a restaurant, bar or coffee house in business. It will bring in a lot of people that want to take a shot at playing live and friends. Piss poor management of an establishment is just that.

            I also played a smaller restaurant that one day ASCAP came into, not while I was playing, but another guy and they sat down and wrote down every tune this guy played. Hit up the owner for 20 grand on back pay. He stopped doing music I heard, but I also heard he settled up for a few hundred bucks or so. I am an ASCAP member for what it's worth.

            There's a privately owned restaurant here in town where the owner, chief cook and bottle washer, is also a musician. He's pretty good. I go out when I'm not beat to hell on Wednesday night. You get a free drink of your choice if you play. The sound system is pretty damn nice. He gets about 50 or so people there on Wednesday night. He also lives above the restaurant. He does 10 buffet dinner that night too, which might be some as simple as a burger, a side dish and a beer.

            My friend hosts the monthly Nashville round where he gets 4 performers to play original music. IT's rather popular. Performers get a gift card to the restaurant. I have been asked to play it a few times. He got that idea after playing the Bluebird in Nashville, which he has played a few times. I seriously doubt he got paid there either.

            Music is an afterthought at most establishments, but it keeps people at a place maybe for another round of drinks of some food. That is unless your place is set up for music. Most are not, and require a band to lug a huge sound system. I myself have hired a sound company at times. I'm not a roadie, and I don't want to run sound while I'm trying to perform.

            I have also hired a warm-up band and put them on the bill. Between the cost of the sound company, the warm-up band and what I wanted to make for my band, I walked away with good nights pay. The place was packed many times, so packet I think they ended up turning folks away. Bands got to get creative in how they market and present themselves. What you want to here at the end of the night is, can we do this again soon.
            You can also rent out a hall for cheap, like your local American Legion, VFW, promote your own shows, charge whatever you want at the door. The place will come with a bartender and a wait staff too. Have 2 bands play if you want. You can walk away with some nice coin.

            This time of year is hard for all, musicians, restaurants, bars, as the weather can be pretty crappy. IMany folks just want to sit home in the warmth of there own home.

            Live music is what you make of it, we had the same problem with DJ's, that were willing to set up a small PA and play music for 4 hours, for 1/2 the cost of what a real band would charge. Facebook is great for marketing, but it's not the end all be all. Folks that want to hear a live band make the effort to get out, whether it's an open mic or a club show.


            Best of luck guys. I may be into a forced retirement soon and maybe back out in the music trenches. I'm already planning how I plan to make money playing to supplement my meager state pension and have fun doing it. Been looking at another 9-5 er too option, but who wants to work like that. I have done it for 30 years and it sucked my soul dry every day.

            You got the talent, and the world is your stage, whether it be a clubs, a small coffee house or even home concerts. Open mics are what they are, show up support others and let them know you playing down the street on some weekend. Get a box of business cards, that give the folks that show up at your shows a free in, if there's a cover charge.























            _____________________________________
            Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

            Join Date: Aug 2001
            Location: N. Adams, MA USA
            Posts as of Jan 10th 2013: 82,617

            Comment


            • #7
              I continue to refuse to play rooms that do not have agreements with ASCAP/BMI/SESAC...if you want to host music, then that is part of the cost of having music. One room I was booked into on a pick-up gig, the guy showed me his jukebox license....and I advised the bandleader that it was not what is required despite the bar owners insistence. I did the gig, under protest, and the leader agreed not to play there anymore. Another time with another pick-up gig, I walked...there was no stage [a bad sign], not even a jukebox agreement [or anything akin to canned music] but the leader was adamant we were still going to play...but I was not. This is Los Angeles, come on...do it right, or don't do it. That room was closed in less than six months after I walked out....so there were obviously other issues...
              What is with that? They [owners/managers] have to know they need at minimum an agreement with the PROs, and in many places a 'cabaret license' in order to host music...why would they risk the lawsuits, the hassle from the local ordinance constabulary and all that? And I do know that many places here dodge the PROs by only hiring 'originals' bands, but they may be PRO members and want to make sure other PRO members are getting paid.
              "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

              Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

              "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

              Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SteinbergerHack View Post

                Generally a couple of guys on stools with steel-strings.



                Truth. I have a pretty basic setup with 7 powered main/monitor cabs and two subs (Yamaha DXR/DXS), with a rack X32 console. Better than the crappy clubs, not as good as one with a "real" system. I don't haul it around without some $$$ being on the table - though I often don't charge my own bands anything above an even cut.
                Did the club provide the stools?
                "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

                "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by daddymack View Post

                  Did the club provide the stools?


                  Honestly, I have a couple of my own that I carry for playing acoustic gigs, as do all of the upright bass players I know. It seems kind of silly, but too many times you get a crappy folding chair or a tall chair with arms (i.e., unusable for a guitarist/bassist).

                  To be fair, if a club owner asked the band manager to "bring drinks and beer", we would generally not have a clue as to how much of what to bring, brands desired, glassware, etc. They are expert at their part of the overall product, and we are the experts at our portion; as much as it may annoy us when they get it wrong, we have to remember that most of them know as much about mixing a live band as they know about calculating a lunar approach trajectory.
                  Lease this space!

                  Comment


                  • daddymack
                    daddymack commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I have my own folding stool [with a built-in guitar stand, one less item on my checklist ] for my solo work because, yes, most places are not clued in what a guitarist might need to sit on. I actually rarely sit, even on solo gigs, though, and never on band gigs.

                • #10
                  The Open Mic scene is a breeding ground for guys that go on to form bands that play for gas money and get hired locally because they can get a few friends to show up. Pro trios or larger have no where to play if they expect to get even $100/night. The rooms are too small and rarely promote. A lot of guys who can actually play have given up so a venue whose marketing focused on quality music would have a hard time filling slots with competent groups.

                  I'm talking about small towns, 2,000 population on average, but the only "city" in the state is dominated by venues that fill several slots a week with "bands' willing to play for tips.

                  Basically, nobody seems to care about good music.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Actually, my primary band [and offshoots] was formed through a regular blues jam at a now closed blues dive, but this is not a town of 2000...
                    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

                    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

                    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

                    Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

                    Comment


                    • senorblues
                      senorblues commented
                      Editing a comment
                      A lot of folks use the terms "open mic" and "jams" interchangeably around here and of course they aren't the same thing. Back in DC, there were old school jams where you wouldn't dare sign up unless you had pro experience . . . the way it used to be.
                  Working...
                  X