Open-Mic Part 2 – Do’s and Don’ts for organizers

In Part 1 of this mini-series I already told you, why I love open-mics so much. Here’s Part 2 with some do’s and don’ts for people who organize open-mics:


Sign-up for me is one of the crucial points because obviously you need committed participants for a successful open-mic. From what I’ve seen so far during many festivals, here’s what I think would work best:

+ Give the opportunity to sign-up during the event or right before – but definitely on site. That way you can be sure that the people who want to play are actually there.

– Don’t let people sign-up before the event. It creates a very “exclusive” club of the same people plus there always seems to be a very high rate of no-shows.

+ Leave some room open for late sign-up for those who might need to gather their confidence first.

– Don’t let people sign-up in a particular order.

+ Instead let them throw their name in a hat.


Because what I’ve seen so far about the order at open-mics sometimes makes me furious.

– People have the tendency to put their name not at the top of the list but at the end (will take about that in the next part of this series some more) – so don’t offer a numbered list.

+ With everyone’s name in the hat you can just randomly draw the order – that makes it fair for everyone.

+ Start with drawing two names.

+ First name starts, second name is in the “hot seat” and can get prepared. Keep doing that until the end.

+ Let everyone have the same opportunity – no one plays twice, if someone hasn’t played once yet.


– Don’t leave it up to participants how many songs and for how long they want to play.

+ Set a time and/or song limit for everyone – and make sure everyone sticks to it.

– Don’t switch artists after every song – it get’s very distracting and it’s hard for the audience to actually get into the groove.

+ Instead set a limit of 2-3 songs (max. 10 min). That way you can get to know the artist on stage a little bit and it’s not as busy on stage.


+ Have a designated moderator who brings everyone on stage, gets the crowd hyped up, announces the acts and possible asks them some questions.

+ Let the moderator (or an extra stagehand) handle the sign-up lists.

– Don’t just rely on the people that they will be there on time – have the moderator or someone extra check, that the people who want to play are actually on site.


+ Have the needed equipment ready for everyone to use.

– Don’t let people bring their own equipment like cables or amps – it takes way to long to unpack and prepare and it’s really not necessarey

+ Also make sure to have a music stand ready for those who need it and bring some clothes pins if you have an outdoor event to secure paper.

+ Help out with the technical stuff like lines and mic stands. People who are on stage the first time need a hand.

– Don’t let them look like fools by leaving it up to people to get things sorted out that they’ve never done before.


– Don’t make it a “friends only” or “friends first” affair.

+ Make it inclusive – there should be room for everyone.

xoxo Nikky

Here are the links to all four parts of this series:

Part 1 – Open Mic – A love story

Part 2 – Do’s and Don’ts for organizers

Part 3 – Do’s and Don’ts for participants

Part 4 – Do’s and Don’ts for the audience

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