Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Open Mics Vs New Act Nights

I'm often asked why I insist on using the term "new act night" instead of "open mic" for my events and as I'm currently on a train rolling down to Dorset I find myself with the time to publish my definitive thoughts on the matter. Knowing what a night is offering is often difficult to pin down when the two terms are so often used interchangeably so here's my two pence worth.

  1. Performers at an open mic can sign up to perform on the night itself or pre-book online. The order of appearance is arbitrary and is usually based on a first-come first-served basis. The promoter generally exercises no direct control aside from the placement of a few "featured acts". Performers at a new act night are mainly pre-booked and the running order is decided by the promoter to give balance - for example by not putting two one-liner comedians on consecutively. There may be a few open spots for walk-ins but these do not make up the majority of performers.
  2. An open mic is open to anyone who wants to perform, regardless of experience or abilityA new act night exercises a degree of control over who is performing - informed by video clips, reviews or previously seeing the act perform.
  3. Due to the above, the overall quality of an open mic night will be variable - act to act and night to night. A new act night will have greater consistency.
  4. The vast majority of the audience at an open mic will consist of the performers and their friends. A new act night should be capable of appealing to the general public and encourage repeat attendance by non-performers due to it's consistency and ability to gain a good reputation from it.
Both types of show allow acts to hone their material and performance. Both most definitely have a place on the scene. Fundamentally though, open mics should be considered community style events where the enjoyment comes not just from the entertainment on stage but from the comradeship between the performers. New act nights still have the comradeship aspect for those involved but should also stand up independently of that to be entertaining to anyone who is not actively involved in their execution.

Coming up next time I have time to myself...why "bringer" gigs are a fundamentally flawed concept.

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