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How to find gigs in Rome (and get paid for them)

Welcome to Open Mic Rome!

Having problems finding a venue that hosts live music in Rome? Or are you one of those musicians who has written thousands of emails but never got an answer back? Tired of walking from venue to venue with a CD in your hand, and always getting the same response: “We’ll get back to you”, or “come back tomorrow, our event manager isn’t here today” or, the classic of all classics: “How many people do you bring?”.

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Now, before we review a few strategies to get that gig, you should first define why you really want it. Is your primary scope to promote your original music, build a following, and eventually sell your CD? Do you just want to gather some experience playing in front of a live audience? Or do you simply enjoy a night out with friends and want to have a nice evening together? Are you trying to make a living off live music? First, we need to start by managing expectations.

  • Finding a gig in Rome is possible.
  • Finding a gig where you play for free is easy.
  • Finding a gig where you get paid is not that easy, but not too hard, either.
  • Finding a venue that pays a reasonable amount of money is hard.
  • Finding a venue that pays a reasonable amount of money and takes care of all legal and official paperwork (SIAE, ENPALS) – don’t hold your breath.

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We could spend hours discussing the reasons why it is bad to play for free or at a cheap price (i.e. destroying the market, lowering the expected minimum price in Rome, etc.) vs. why it could actually be a good choice (lowering risk for venue if you’re confident you can make enough money by selling your merchandise and/or with tips). But let’s assume that you are not working on increasing your following, but on making money. You can’t guarantee a crowd, but you’re confident that your music is so good that it will not only keep the people in the venue from leaving the place, but attract passers-by to come in and enjoy an entire evening of your music.

So, what’s the best strategy in Rome? Here are a few tips that we found helpful in recent years, and they always guaranteed gigs. Here we go:

  1. Observe the venue. If possible visit the venue before you contact it, to see if it actually fits your set. See what kind of people are visiting the place. Is the venue empty on a Saturday night? Does it have a sound system? Are many people walking by in the area and could they hear the music from outside? Do you like the vibe of the venue? Could you get along with the staff?
  2. Be polite and professional. Especially if they say no. You’d be surprised how often somebody remembers you because you were acting polite, instead of discussing for half an hour why they should’ve really considered you.
  3. Show them that you really are interested in the venue’s good reputation. Their success is your success. Explain why an evening with you is good for their business. If you know you can entertain people, point out why your act is suited to the venue. If you can engage the audience and you’re confident that they will stay all night, point it out.
  4. In Rome, personal contact is better. Most businesses in Italy start over a coffee or lunch. Get to know the person you’ll be dealing with. Talk with the manager. The music director. Get to know them. Try to engage in a personal conversation, instead of jumping right into business. In Rome, as opposed to other countries, very often a personal connection will help your cause a lot.
  5. Be prepared. Bring CDs, promotional material – but make it look professional and stand out. Don’t hand out handwritten contact information – try to make your DEMO look like a top-notch product. You don’t have to spend a lot of money: there are many services online now that will take care of professional CD labels at a low cost. Consider that people working in a music venue often are busy listening to lots of groups, often while they also have other responsibilities within the venue. Make sure you put all your information together in one place, from your contact info to any selling points that you might like to point out.
  6. Ask for the right price. Weekends are busier, so it’s reasonable that your price is higher on a weekend than on, let’s say, a Monday evening. You may decide for yourself how much your performance is worth. If you think that a big part of your intake is going to be through CD sales or other merchandise, you can take this into account and reduce your fee with the venue. But make sure to clarify this beforehand with the manager, as some venues might not like it if you sell stuff or ask for tips, which they could see as competition for their own tips or merchandise they might sell.
  7. A great way to get to know other musicians is through Open Mics. Knowing other musicians can help you to get a recommendation for a music venue, which will increase your chances of actually getting a gig there.
  8. One last thing- don’t forget that you can also busk in Rome. Depending on the location you choose and the style of your performance, there is a good chance you’ll make good money. All you need to go is get your busker’s licence here, and you’re set!

These are just a few tips and we will continue this series with different ways of presenting yourself to a music venue, as well as alternative ways to monetize your performance.

Did we forget something? Do you think we got something wrong? Or would you like to read more tips like these? Then send us a message to openmicrome@gmail.com – we’ll be glad to have your feedback!

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Open Vibe Podcast Episode 1: “Even priests like music”

Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present our first podcast. We named it “Open Vibe”. We’ll try to publish one every week, so that you’ll have a great Sunday morning breakfast with: COFFEE + CORNETTO + OPEN VIBE PODCAST.

Overview Episode 1:

Special guest and the original founder of the Open Mic in Rome, Paul Staunton, shares some memories of how the first days of the Open Mic were back in 2006 with Sal, who ran the Open Mic for the last 8 years. Other topics include the death and influence of David Bowie, strategies to write songs and organize them, as well as their personal rituals and habits before stepping on stage.

This podcast features the live performances of the following artists, recorded in various venues during the Open Mic events last week:

The Ocelots: www.facebook.com/TheOcelotsBandIreland/

Selki: soundcloud.com/selkimusic

Alessandro Gregori: soundcloud.com/venusdelight

Oliver Manning: soundcloud.com/theblueberrygrindhouse

David Adam, Tomasz Wozniak.

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Interview on RadioSapienza

Open Mic Rome Interview on Radio Sapienza

After the interview last week on the radio station Dimensione Suono Roma, we’ve been invited to join the radio station that serves the biggest European university, RadioSapienza! It was a fun interview which you can re-listen to soon once their podcast becomes availble.

Topics included:

  1. What is the Open Mic
  2. Who are the artists who come to the Open Mic
  3. We talked about the differences in culture when it comes to discovering new artists and the difficulties for young artists to find a showcase
  4. The advantages for Italian artists to improve their English by meeting International artists

You can listen to the interview in this podcast (starting at 1:15:30): http://www.radiosapienza.net/2013/2013-06-21-10-14-52/on-air/post-it/post-it-eventi/1808-post-it-eventi-venerdi-27-giugno.html

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Memorize songs with these 10 tips

Open-Mic-Rome-Memorize-A-Song

10 Tips that will help you memorize songs

Let’s face it – it’s hard to memorize songs with all those lyrics, hundreds of songs, all those chord progressions – even Bruce Springsteen uses a teleprompter these days.

But how would you memorize songs with all those words? The Verses? Here are some tips that might help you achieve that goal:

  1. Listen, re-listen, and listen again. As simple as it sounds, you need to listen to the song as often as possible. On your way to work. In the car. On your bicycle (lower the volume, you don’t want to end up in an accident, do you?)
  2. Sing/play the song as often as you can. Under the shower, when you’re in your car, when you’re going for a walk. As with learning languages repeating things out loud will help you to memorize things.
  3. Use visual aids, such as mind-mapping-techniques. If you’re a visual person, then mind-maps work also great if you need to learn for an exam or need to organize and memorize lots of information within a short time.
  4. Connect the lyrics to objects in your apartment. If you need to, put little stickies next to objects that you use every day.
  5. Try to sing them without any help and see how far you can get. Only read the lyrics if you really get stuck.
  6. Visualize the story. Don’t just sing the words. If you really understand what is going on in the song and understanding what it tries to transmit will help a lot to memorize the song.
  7. If you have troubles at certain parts of the song, just write down a few keywords that you can use as a hint, in case you get stuck.
  8. Get enough sleep. Your memory suffers if you don’t get enough rest and even kills your brain cells, so make sure you sleep enough!
  9. Keep learning new songs on a regular basis.It might be tougher in the beginning, but actually stimulating your brain will improve your memory, which will improve the ability to learn new songs much faster!
  10. Rather learn a bit every day, than for hours on one day.
How to memorize songs

Sostieni la #musica dal vivo a #roma! Metti un mi piace su http://www.fb.com/openmicrome

Of course, the best it to write and play your own songs, but if you are planning to perform a cover song, the tips above will make it easier to memorize that song. Got any other tips? Leave us a comment below! Or if you like to perform at one of our Open Mic Nights in Rome, you can contact us here!

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Does alcohol improve your voice?

There are many excuses for a singer to drink alcohol. Ever heard any of these?

“I’m just warming up my voice.”

“It’s just to calm down a bit.”

“I feel nervous, so I drink.”

“I’ve been playing in Irish pubs for years, this does nothing to me.”

“I’ve got a cold. This hot whiskey helps me get better.”

“Of course I drink. It helps to get that blues voice.”

While first these explanations (kind of) seem to make sense, there are many good reasons a singer shouldn’t drink too much alcohol, especially before a performance.

  1. Actually, the muscles of your throat will constrict with the consumption of alcohol. In order to hit the high and the low notes you’ll need your full vocal range, though, and keep those muscles relaxed and smooth. Unless you’re a professional, drinking a bit is okay, but if you drink too much you’ll damage your vocal cords sooner or later (besides the fact that of course your entire body will react to alcohol at one point).Does alcohol improve your voice? 
  2. Also, alcohol will dry you out faster, which means that during a performance you can easily dehydrate. While this might not seem to be an issue during an Open Mic performance that lasts 10 Minutes, it will be noticed if you’re on stage for a longer time.
  3. Plus, alcohol will actually slow you down. You may not notice, but you might activate your vocal muscles too late or too early due to a lack of coordination.

Of course, often it is simply fun to drink, especially if you’re having a good time with friends in a pub. Just remember to warm up your voice before the performance and if still keep drinking alcohol don’t forget to also drink lots of water.

If you noticed any good or bad changes in your voice due to drinking alcohol, tell us your story in the comments below! If you like to participate at one of our great Open Mic Night, you can contact us here.

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Cos’è l’Open Mic Roma

L’Open Mic Roma non ha bisogno di una politica di selezione.

Chi ci viene coglie immediatamente che il presupposto è passare una bella serata con della musica senza vincoli: né di genere, né di qualifica, né di rendimento.

Open Mic Roma

Nel voler descrivere l’Open Mic Roma, non si può di certo evitare di dire che non si tratta di una tradizionale jam session. In primis il fatto che chi vuole suonare durante la serata non entra in alcun tipo di competizione, in più non esiste alcuna anticipazione di quanto possa accadere nella serata. Nessuno che voglia suonare o cantare all’Open Mic Roma ha la precedenza, non a caso si vedono spesso facce nuove. Quale che sia la scelta o il talento di chi si propone sul palco, gli artisti cambiano con frequenza omogenea e il servizio a loro disposizione è lo stesso per ognuno. Chiunque volesse tornare e farsi conoscere è sempre libero di farlo e sarà bene accolto come se fosse venuto per la prima volta.

All’Open Mic Roma le porte sono ugualmente aperte a chi si ritiene bravo e a chi non si ritiene bravo affatto; si suona e si canta da soli, in duo, in trio, in quartetto, o anche in 8! (e talvolta, possiamo dirlo, in occasioni tutt’altro che premeditate!). Si spazia dal brano classicissimo al proprio pezzo più intimo, dalle rivisitazioni più bizzarre al genere che semplicemente si può amare di più, dallo stile più popolare a quello più esotico, il tutto coniugato con una unica chiave: divertirsi.

Perciò se hai voglia di divertirti o far divertire, l’Open Mic Roma ti dà il benvenuto e ti aspetta, tendenzialmente ogni giovedì, al Fiddler’s Elbow in Via dell Olmata…!

di Francesco Dysguest

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