This past Friday, August 9th, my church hosted its very first Open Mic Night, which I got the honor of organizing. Planning began back in April when I got some teammates together to discuss how we all thought the event should go.
It honestly went so well. We had a full house, which equated to 100 people. The majority of those people stayed for the full duration of the event, which I found fascinating. I thought I’d go through and talk about what we did well, and what we need to do differently for our next event.
What went well:
- Getting enough volunteers. Honestly, I had more than I knew what to do with. We had a lot of man (and woman) power for set-up, event execution, and tear-down. That felt like a win.
- The environment. While you’ll find below that it was not a perfect set-up, we did create a great atmosphere for people to hear live music. Nobody was worried that their kid might hear something inappropriate. We had snacks, drinks, and coffee. We had easy access to bathrooms. We were supportive and the mood was light. Lighting itself was very relaxed.
- Our emcee. One of my volunteers emceed the event and honestly was smooth like butta! I just handed her a list of names to introduce and she made all of our transitions work very well, and made people feel welcome.
- Advertising on stage and on Craigslist. I didn’t really know what I was getting into, posting the event on Craigslist, but we had three acts that found out about us from there, and it wasn’t too shabby. We posted a ton of flyers around the area, and nobody seemed to be there because of those. Lesson learned.
- The technical side. It was very helpful to have a stagehand on stand-by, ready to assist with stage needs. He was my fiancé. I’m a little biased. It was helpful to have a sound engineer glued to the board, ready to mute and unmute and mute again. Something we kind of dropped the ball on was securing someone to run computer (which wasn’t a huge task for the event, but was good to have). However, a volunteer from the tech team saw a need and filled the need. How nice. Nothing broke or malfunctioned. Everything went swimmingly, with only a few occasions of distracting effects left on a mic during speaking. We also had some slides at the beginning of the event with music trivia, which I got some compliments on.
What we will improve upon:
- Signups. I was pretty gung-ho from the get-go about no prior sign-ups allowed for the event. All this did was create a lot of anxiety. We did not know what we were getting into. People missed a lot of information they could’ve received by signing up prior to the event. It also would’ve helped me not be in the position I was in at 45 minutes into the event, when we were running out of acts and I was going around to every musician I could locate, asking them to do something for the event.
- Advertising that this is not karaoke night. Something that we did not do well was clearly advertising that we would not be running tracks/playing CDs/playing audio off a computer or phone for people. We desired an event of live accompaniment. Our first act left disgruntled after realizing we would not plug his phone in for him to sing along with. I pointed him towards some musicians who might have joined in with him, but he decided to shut down instead, unfortunately. He wasn’t the only one either. Two other people were hoping to play pre-recorded audio, but they decided to find solutions. One went full a cappella for his song, and when another young lady let our emcee know of her predicament, an announcement was made that she was seeking an accompanist, and she ended up linking up with one of our keyboard players who got the song together at the last minute like a boss.
- Seating. Since this was our first time hosting this event, we did not really know what we would be getting into. I had an inkling that since we did announce the event from stage on a Sunday morning, we probably would have a decent turnout for spectators. We sure did. We had people showing up an hour early. We filled out the room. We made the mistake of placing ten round tables at the foot of the stage, which took up a lot of space. For our next event, we will have to sacrifice a few round tables to make way for more seating. My wonderful team was very quick to supply the room with more chairs as needed, so that was good.
- Time allotted for each act. We decided to go with seven minutes per performer for the event, and I believe that moving forward, we will allow for ten. This will give more time for the acts to potentially connect with the crowd, and give them an opportunity to offer more music.
- Volunteer responsibilities. Like I said, we had no problem getting people. However, we had so many people that I struggled to find jobs for each person. Believe me, I was on the lookout and tried to give at least one decent task to each person. Having done the event now, I see where the holes were and what new responsibilities I can give to volunteers.
Our next event is in 58 days! I am stoked to host our next Open Mic Night and see how the next one goes even better than the last. It was a great time had by all.