Open Mic  (generic)
Definition:  "Open Mic" ...A public event at which musicians of all skill levels are given the opportunity to perform in front of a live audience with the use of a sound system.  No further organization or constraint is present.


1. No consideration whatsoever is given to room size or configuration.  Huge rooms dilute audience involvement with performers and audience feels disconnected from players... gives audience permission for chatter during performance.  "Shotgun" rooms can pose insurmountable sound problems.

2. The sound system can be of any quality and stage monitors may or may not be used.  A "sound person" may or may not be present.  There is no real commitment to optimum results.  Sound is typically sub-standard and musicians often cannot hear themselves.  The musician says; "I cannot hear myself" or "I cannot hear my guitar".  The answer from those in charge is frequently: "Don't worry, we can hear you out here".  It is useful to remember why we all started playing music in the first place... because we liked the way it sounded!  If the musician has a poor experience in hearing him or herself, it is likely the performance will be lackluster.  If a musician is asked to choose between an open mic with a good sound system or one with a poor sound system it seems obvious what that choice would be. 

3. The Master of Ceremonies is not necessarily someone well suited for the job.   

4. There is no effort whatsoever to control audience talking during performance.  Those in attendance see the event as a gab-fest with music in the background.  Musicians are distracted by the noise and are discouraged looking out over a crowd that seems disengaged from the performance.  People in the audience who actually are there to listen cannot hear the song given the crowd noise and they will become disenchanted with the event.  Musicians who do participate will more often turn to up-tempo songs played at higher volume.  Ballads will rarely be played in this atmosphere. 

To see an open mic that has succumbed to the above maladies is a depressing experience.  I will not mention local eamples.  Typically, the sound system is not the worst but it is the lack of noise control that is a glaring example of just how bad things can get.  The musicians themselves feel free to carry on loud conversations, including tables immediately facing the stage... some with their back turned on the stage while one of their "friends" flounders around on the stage totally unheard and unappreciated.    Witness the spectacle of people so wrapped up in their conversations about music that they are totally ignoring that music... live music, is actually taking place!    "Civilians" in attendance see that no respect is given to the performance and they add to the din.  The result is instead of an environment that fosters artistry and musicianship, the event is more a training ground for those who seek experience playing in a loud bar or other setting where music is just background.