Are there too many open mics in Budapest? (2)

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Part 2: Effects on quality

(Continued from Are there too many open mics in Budapest? Part 1)

If we just stick to music events, part of the criticism for open mics revolves around the very fact that too many people get a chance, which inherently invites less-than-qualified performers, lowering the overall standards within the club music scene. On top of this, there are concerns that too many open mics might simply spread the community too thin. 

In a way, it’s understandable that the more accomplished staples will feel that open mics are diluting the overall quality, and they’re just an easy way out for venues that want to spare themselves from the tasks of talent scouting and booking management. All you have to do with open mics is have some host do some promo and in come the performers: for free. And if you think about it, even the less-skilled music can sell, because the audience is often amused by it — just like at karaoke bars, or even in the early rounds of televised talent shows.

Do you ever “graduate” from open mics?

Here’s a personal account. A dear friend of mine, whose name I won’t mention, claimed in a conversation not long ago that yes: he already graduated and no longer finds it a challenge or the source of enjoyment to play at open mics. He now has a band and wants to focus on that. Understandable enough, right?

But then how is it that we often run into some of the most professional musicians also playing open mics? Sometimes they’re just passing through and want to practice and have some fun while immersing themselves in the local scene. Other times they will experiment with new material and check audience response or plug an upcoming concert. But we definitely have total pros performing regularly, no question about it.

Naturally, not everybody will be interested in open mics at all times. This all comes in waves, and from time to time you want to remove yourself from these circles and concentrate on different activities. Chances are, however, that you’ll find your way back at some point, and certainly nobody has ever given out any open mic diplomas. 😛

The free market challenge: time will tell

And finally, some open mic organizers might also feel that all the new ‘open mic’ or ‘open stage’ events popping up can fraction off the crowds and make it less lucrative for individual venues to host them. That’s right, new trends can do that, with new characters jumping on the bandwagon, riding on the coattails of the real pioneers of open mics, haha! We have already seen some open mics come and go, appearing and then disappearing, and interestingly, we have also seen this protectionist attitude in the past, whereas some might be wary as someone else comes along and poses competition.

So if the question is: will open mics outcompete each other? — the best answer will be: let the free market take care of it all. If a newcomer can offer something truly interesting in the way an event is promoted or hosted, more power to them! In a city like Budapest there also seems to be an endless supply of artists or wannabe performers. Every year new classes graduate from music schools, all you have to do is reach out to them and offer a chance to play at a decent venue. (They will also bring their friends along, mind you.) The influx of tourists also doesn’t appear to decrease, and a certain percentage of them are musicians who love playing in a new location.

If a newcomer can offer something truly interesting in the way an event is promoted or hosted,
more power to them!

Let’s also not forget that opening up the music scene and making it more accessible to new talent will also speed up the process for some of the new pros and new stars to develop, as it did in the case of George Ezra, to mention only one of the many international success stories. That’s an important mission for open mics.

Stay tuned.


Cover photo: Franco-American singer-songwriter Adriel Genet as frontman of Burn the Ballroom at their concert in Vladivostok, Russia. Below is him playing a cover at an open mic on March 13, 2018, at ELLÁTÓház, Budapest. 

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