TIPS FOR

Open Mic Hosts

Every town needs an open mic. A proper city needs one every night of the week.

Running an open mic can be a simple operation—mic, list, host, done. Or you can trick it out with features, competition, pre-show workshops, and infinite other variations.

Whatever your format, you’ve gotta pick a venue, set the schedule, and bang out at least some basic rules. And you’ve gotta promote the event.

Here’s a collection of advice—gathered from open mic nights across the US (including my own)—to help open mic hosts and organizers create an event that hums and set your local talent up for success.

Open Mic Book Club: The Art of Gathering

Open Mic Book Club: The Art of Gathering

This is the second in a series of posts that recommend inspiring and practical books to help hosts and organizers create the show their communities need. Previous posts cover Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Jenny Odell's How to Do Nothing.   ---------------------...

5 Things an Open Mic Host Can Do After an Awkward Performance

5 Things an Open Mic Host Can Do After an Awkward Performance

Every open mic host has her gifts. Mine include a cheerleader’s spirit, a voice that can reach the back of any average-sized room without a mic, and a ready and rowdy laugh. The weaknesses that ride shotgun?  That same loud voice when amplified (sorry, front-row...

3 Ways to Cultivate Open Mic Regulars

3 Ways to Cultivate Open Mic Regulars

So I hit this open mic in Rhode Island at a live music venue called The Parlour. It was terrific in so many ways — space, structure, talent, vibe. That night, I met one of their regulars: a guitar player who also happened to be the most enthusiastic attendee I’ve met...

5 Lessons from Improv that Will Make You a Better Open Mic Host

5 Lessons from Improv that Will Make You a Better Open Mic Host

Let’s start with the obvious: A great open mic needs a skilled host. It needs more than that, of course—a venue that understands and loves open mic for what it is, a co-organizer or two to help promote and manage the show, and (of course) performers. But the host is...