The Importance of Open Mics
So you all already know that I'm apart of an open mic collective entitled Lyrical Therapy or more so affectionately referred to as SQUAD. I've been apart of the team since 2016 but of course have been familiar with platforms such as this for most of my artistic career. Open mics are almost intrinsic to the journey of every artist specifically art rooted in live performance. If you're not apart of some type of school program or a group within your community, more than likely, your first time touching a stage and sharing your art will be at an open mic. Being on both sides as an artist and now facilitator has allowed me the chance to see the overall impact of this platform and realize just how important it is for artists to have spaces to not only be vulnerable but to also develop.
One of the things I appreciate most about open mic culture is that it is a direct source to community. Odds are being an artist you're probably the odd ball in your family and/or among your peers. Here you can connect with like minded and hopefully spirited individuals that understand the value of expression and are present for that very reason. A sense of belonging is vital for all of us as people but I would say it is crucial for those of us who have chosen a path that often times can lead one to operating in solitude. You know? Misunderstood artist shit. Professionally speaking, if you haven't already exposed yourself and your art to the general public this is where you also meet your core audience. The people who clap for you. The ones who relate to you. These are the people who would support your artistic career. In business, they refer to this as identifying your niche market. Have a conversation with the people who enjoy your art and find out who they are and what drew them to you. It'll definitely be easier to share and promote your art once you know who is organically rocking with it.
Now before I go any further I would like to say that every moment in life is an opportunity to develop as an artist. Just a reminder to always be present and to treat every moment as such. With that being said, open mics are where you go to test that development. Are you comfortable being on stage? Are you able to connect with an audience of strangers? Do you know how to hold a mic? All of this will show on stage and it will be received in a number of ways. I like to promote positive reinforcement in response to anyone performing their art but contention is also a necessary part of growth. Finding what works and identifying areas of needed improvement is a trial and error process but ultimately something that will assist you in becoming your greatest self. This process is amplified once in front of others rather than in the comfort of our rooms or wherever we practice. We all have our natural gifts but refinement is what sets the professionals apart from the rest.
In the age of social media, it is not necessarily easy to find yourself in front of the eyes of many people but it is definitely more accessible than it has ever been before. Being an artist in this climate means that the line between the artist and consumer is pretty much non-existent. A few pages created on social media and you're instantly an "artist." However, that does not negate the work that consistently needs to happen in becoming a better artist and producing a great product. If you are not out actively pushing yourself to become greater in your craft that will always show. We see this in the mainstream as artists go from basements to worldwide sensations but haven't developed their worldwide talent. No matter your following on social media or the success you feel you deserve in conjunction with such the art is always first. Open mics exist for the very reason of connecting you with those you'll need along your journey as well as to grow in a space that supports that very mission. Don't do yourself the disservice of not connecting with people in real time and spaces to reflect on where you are and would like to go as an artist. In whatever city. At whatever time. Take that opportunity.