There are some good in Open Mic sessions for performing artists – it’s a laboratory to test out unproven material without risking anything – the venue doesn’t have to risk paying for a failed experiment and you don’t have to worry about paying the venue to perform your unproven material. If you are a beginner in the world of showbiz it’s a good way to break out of your comfort zone and get used to standing in front of people (there are better ways to do this – such as taking public speaking classes at your local University but lets set that aside for the moment).
Open Mic can seem like a good way to raise public awareness about your existence and what you do however it is a huge gamble:
Open Mic Nights are to the professional entertainers as Walmart is to small local business – it’s free and it eats the little man up. By default people are drawn to FREE or low cost commodities. Why risk a few $$$ when you can get instant gratification for FREE or cheap? The problem with instant gratification is that you didn’t work for it. Problem with free or cheap commodities is that you didn’t work for it – the psychology of feeling contempt sets in. Things people don’t invest in – they will treat with the uttermost disregard and content. Walmart knows that people would rather get that instant gratification and feel bitter about it later than to risk a little and see high results. This is why Super Markets like Walmart & Sams Club HURTS small local businesses.
Smart people know that there is satisfaction in high quality and high price. High price/fee means high quality.
I see this all the time – most who perform Open Mic are not very good entertainers nor are they professionals. They lack the discipline that comes with living from the trade. As consequence they treat their “craft” like the audience treats them – with disregard, disrespect and contempt. If you are a entertainer looking to go pro – do not stay too long in the open mic arena. I can easily equate open mics to magic clubs – only 1 or 2 are professionals and the rest haven’t got a clue what to do and they help you foster bad habits that will prevent you from advancing and you end up in a vicious cycle.
“But you are overgeneralizing Jordan” you maybe thinking to yourself – It’s not overgeneralizing when you see a consistency in the results – free shows will always get you free shows. The ONLY time you should ever take up a free show or service is if you are auditioning for a clientele – much like a car dealer lets the buyer test drive a car before a deal is made. People love choices but you should never make the offer a permanent thing – DEMAND a fee.
You should always charge what you feel is you are worth. If you feel you are worth $1,000,000 then you should probably charge $1,000,000 (but be realistic about it or you may severely damage your prospect pool). I don’t give everyone the same fee – my corporate clients is a different story – but for general consumers I try to match fee with a wide variety of variables that I won’t mention here ( to keep my competitors ignorant).
I have luckily never came across this personally but I have heard it being asked from my industry peers – why do you charge so much? There are two answers to the question and Heath Ledger’s Joker gives a good solid answer.
The second reason is because showbusiness is business and money is the blood of business. You need to spend in business and as Dan Kennedy wisely stated – the business that spends the most survives.
If life was perfect and simple I can make a wager that many entertainers would have no problem doing things for free or low cost.
I bought my first house in the late Spring of 2015. It was a Duplex. Almost a year later my tenant notified me that her hot water heater had busted. During the process of getting it replaced I asked my real estate agent if the hot water heater on my side had been recently replaced and I got a confirmation. So my tenant got her hot water installed brand new. This previous February (2017) MY hot water heater exploded as well. I was confused. I later found out that the previous owner DID replace my hot water heater – the key word is replaced but not brand spanking new. The old owner of the duplex was a cheapskate who was contempt with low pay and low quality at the sake of sparing expense. Both hot water heaters were 15 years overdue even though they had been installed a year before I bought the place. There is a positive relationship between quality and price. When you pay cheap for live entertainment you will get low quality entertainment. You cannot expect to pay $50 for an adult ticket to a Broadway show and expect a good show – it never happens. Broadway will never sell themselves short like that- they spend well over $5,000,000 + putting a show together, getting it advertised, paying the actors and crew, why would they sell a front row adult ticket for $50? There is no motive.
Back to Open Mic Sessions… I have seen a positive correlation in Open Mics, the Venues that host them and the demographics of the people who attend (but don’t perform) in them – Blue Collar, underpaid, grumpy often drunk as a skunk middle agers with an income of less than $25,000 a year. There is also a positive relationship between what a performer is getting paid/ charging and how the clientele will treat them – again people care for the things that they invest in. If you are hoping to charge $500 – your clientele are not going to be in the Open Mic audience. There is also a high probable chance that those in the audience are NOT listening to you – they are spending their hard earned money on booze and with the inhibitions of alcohol – they can hardly give a rats ass for what you are doing. They aren’t paying to see you – why should they care? Why should they even bother asking you for business when they can just come see free entertainment at the price of booze?
The only good thing Open Mic can provide for a professional entertainer is a laboratory to test unproven material. I wouldn’t waste any energy in trying to market to the crowd that attend – your pitch will fall on drunken deaf ears.