Open mic sets usually last 15-20 minutes where an artists/musician performs a few of their songs. But what if you have to extend your material for longer gigs?

The transition from performing for as little as half an hour to 1+ hours can be a difficult one to grasp. Below are some tips on how to move from short open mic sessions to more lengthy gigs.

(1) Continue to play weekly. 

Don’t give up the regular open mic stints, keep them going. Open mic sessions are one of the best ways to get live experience, without all of the added pressure. Regularly attending open mic events will help you stay motivated when it comes to songwriting and practicing new material, no one wants to play the same song over and over again. Also, regular open mics also let people become more familiar with you style and music as a whole.

(2) Build an email list.

Gathering emails allows you to share any upcoming news and events with others that enjoy your music. Even if you don’t have records recorded or merchandise to sell, it’s always handy to have emails on hand ready for any big news you want to announce.

(3) Let people know who you are. 

Introducing yourself is not only polite before you start a performance, it’s also free advertising! You don’t need a full scripted introduction, just a short ‘Hey I’m ……. I hope you enjoy‘. Also, there’s no harm reminding people when you’ve finished your set, ‘I’m …….. thank you for listening‘ this lets them know who you are in case they forgot or missed your introduction.

(4) Watch others once you’ve performed. 

Don’t be the one of only turns up to perform then leaves once your times up. Open mics are a good and easy way to meet people, plus you have something in common with people there. If you’re an artists that’s interested in starting a band, see if other people would be willing to join. There is no harm in getting details from other people and you’re getting your name out there by networking through others. You can also casually drop into conversations that you have a mailing list if people are interested in keeping up to date with your work.

(5) Get to know venue staff.

Getting to know people at the venue is never a bad idea, especially is they work there. If you are a regular at the open mic events and are also friends with the person who organises it, you could be moved from the grave-yard slot, where no ones arrived, to the prime time set. The booking agent is the best person to do this, but don’t be selfish just so you get something for yourself, round up your mates to come and support you and pack out the venue!

(6) Repetition can be good.

Repetition in your set can be good. If you’ve just started doing open mics, playing the same songs each week can work in your favour because people love songs that they know. I’ve repeated the same set for a few weeks, slowly begin to add new material e.g. play one new song and two of the weekly ones. Once you’ve got in the swing of gradually adding new material you will become more confident when performing it, you can also test the waters and see how the audience reacts.

(7) Make the transition gradually. 

If you think you’re ready to move from open mic sets to longer gigs, begin your transition but do it gradually. You could team up with a few artists and do a combined set together, either each one performing their songs and rotating or doing a song each and rotating after each one. This gets you use to longer sets and gives you an insight of what it’s like to perform with others. You can do this at the open mic venue which adds a bit of variety to the event and, if it”s popular, will please the booking agent.

Once you’re confident with your material and playing a set for longer than 15 minutes you can begin to look for longer, and even paid, gigs!

(Photo – Ian Muttoo/Flickr)