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How to Play the Bluebird!

Monday Open Mic- For writers who haven’t played at the Bluebird and writers from out of town, Open Mic – held on Monday evenings –  is the place to start.  Open Mic is a great place to try out new material, meet other writers, become a part of the songwriting community, and practice your performing skills.  We recommend that all new writers play Open Mic here at The Bluebird, as well as at the many other writers clubs in Nashville, on a regular basis.

You may begin lining up for Open Mic at 4:30pm (not before). Open Mic Sign up is at 5:30pm. You must be signed up by 5:45pm. Names are drawn and the line-up is announced at 6:00pm.  The show runs 6-9:00pm.  Writers get the chance to play 1-2 of their own original songs (depending on time constraints), solo, or accompanied by no more than two others on stage.  Drums and backing tracks are not allowed.

Often we have more writers come to Open Mic than we have time and space for. In this case, we offer writers a “play next time” ticket, so that if the writer doesn’t get to play the first time he or she tries, the writer will get their name on the top of the list to play the next time he/she comes.


Sunday Writers Nights- Our Sunday Night Writers Nights feature 9-12 songwriters playing three songs each.  The show is hosted, and each show ends with a special guest performance by a hit-writing songwriter from the Nashville Music Industry.  Sunday nights are always well attended, which gives the writer a chance to perform for a full room. This is a good chance to develop a following and collect names for your contact list.

Writers performing on these shows have passed an audition, and through this screening process, writers know that they have been selected to play along with other writers who show growing talent and maturity in their songwriting and performance skills.  Sunday writers’ performances are rated and filed for use by The Bluebird to determine when a writer might be eligible to perform during the week on our early shows or Sunday Spotlight shows. There is no pay for these shows but CD sales are permitted.

This show is also a good way for touring singer/songwriters to begin developing a Nashville audience.  Touring artists with professional product and local and national press may send a promo package for consideration to:
The Bluebird Cafe Writers Night
4104 Hillsboro Rd.
Nashville, TN 37215

Auditions- Bluebird auditions are held quarterly, and are ONLY open to Nashville residents, people residing within a 100 mile radius of Nashville and active members of an NSAI regional chapter. They are judged by Bluebird staff and professionals from the Music Industry.  Each person auditioning is asked to play a verse/chorus of one original song, essentially about one minute of a song.  This policy was devised by the original owner, Amy Kurland, who said that one verse and one chorus is all it takes to win someone over with your song, or conversely, for them to switch the radio station.  All audition performances must be acoustic, no drums, backing tracks and no more than three people on stage.

The next Bluebird Cafe audition date  will be April 6, 2014. Sign ups will be ONLINE at 11:00am CST on Mar 21, 2014.


Coming in from out-of-town to audition and need a place to stay? Check out this special deal from our partner MainStay Suites in Brentwood! Just $69.99 a night! Quite the deal for the Nashville area! When you make your reservation, just be sure to mention The Bluebird Cafe and you will get the discount rate of $69.99 per night! To make your reservation, please call: 615-371-8477 or click here.

Early Shows- Tuesday through Saturday, The Bluebird Café’s Early Shows feature the best up and coming songwriters selected from our Sunday writers nights. The shows are at 6PM pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and 6:30PM pm Friday and Saturday night.  There is typically no cover charge for our Early Shows.

These shows are primarily in either an “In The Round” format where four writers sit in a circle in the center of the room, or an “In The Row” format on stage.    Writers perform together and take turns playing their songs. These shows are always acoustic; bands, drums and large groups are not part of our early show. Writers who have played Sundays at least four times and have high scores from our judges may be eligible to play on Early Shows.  If you don’t already have a following (a number of people who will come out especially to hear you perform), you should continue to play Sunday nights and Open Mic.

We only book touring songwriters who we believe are as good as or better than the best local early show writers. If your package does not include professional product and press, it will not be considered. There is no pay for these shows but CD sales are allowed.

To submit material for Early Shows, send to:

The Bluebird Café Early Shows

4104 Hillsboro Rd.

Nashville, TN 37215.

Sunday Spotlights- The Bluebird Cafe does not offer many opportunities for bands to play. The exception is our Sunday Spotlight, a no cover show each Sunday from 6:30 – 7:30pm. The same criterion applies as for our early shows – writers who have played Sundays at least four times, and have high scores from our judges are eligible to play on Sunday Spotlights.  Solo writers must have played Sundays at least four times in order to bring their band to play.  Others writers who would be eligible are staff writers from established Nashville publishing companies and touring artists with product and local and national press.  This time period is for bands up to 6 pieces (including a very small drum kit).  There is no pay for these shows but CD sales are allowed.

To submit material for Sunday Spotlights, send to:

The Bluebird Café Sunday Spotlight

4104 Hillsboro Rd.

Nashville, TN 37215

Frequently Asked Questions-

1. I am a singer and I don’t write my own songs. How can I play the Bluebird?
Unfortunately, Nashville and The Bluebird Cafe offer very few showcases for singers. You may perform on Open Mic with songs by local writers, as long as the songs have not been released by a major label or aired on the radio. You should see this as an opportunity to help a writer present his or her songs – this is not a show for singers as much as it is for songwriters.

2. What if I don’t play an instrument?

We do not allow backing tracks at any shows. Some choose to sing acapella but it is probably to your advantage to find a guitar player to back you on stage. That is one of the benefits of Open Mics and Songwriters Nights; you will meet many people there who would be happy to help out on a show. The songwriting community is very supportive in this way.

3. Does the Bluebird provide instruments for the shows?

We don’t provide guitars, so plan on brining your own.  We do provide a good sound system and an engineer along with a new 88-weighted-key Kawai  digital piano that is available for writers to use on stage.

4. How are the late shows booked?
Late show time slots are reserved for local or national acts with a large following. Openers for these shows are sometimes selected from the best early show performers, though these opportunities are extremely limited.

5. What is a showcase, and how do I get one?A showcase is an early evening or daytime show to which the performer invites members of the industry in the hopes of getting a recording deal. Many venues charge a substantial fee/rent for this. It is the Bluebird’s policy not to rent our room for showcases unless the request comes directly from a major label representative, established manager, or publishing company.

6. What other resources do you recommend for songwriters?

The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is a great organization which offers many services to writers at every level including:

·    Seminars and classes, both physical and on-line

·    Office equipment and writing rooms

·    Song evaluations

·    Solid information and advice on the Music Business

·    Songwriters’ Bookstore

·    Networking opportunities

·    Regional workshops for members in over 100 cities

Check them out at or call them at (615)256-3354 for more information.

The Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) is another good organization that provides resources and information to songwriters at every stage of their careers.

Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) – There are three of them in the US and they are businesses designed to represent songwriters and their right to be compensated for having their music performed in public.

ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, not only handles performing rights for songwriters but also presents educational events, workshops and information on a variety of aspects of songwriting.  Their website is, and has a great database of songs and songwriters.

BMI, Broadcast Music Incorporated, is also involved in supporting and promoting songwriters’ rights.  Their site,, also offers information and a database of their writers’ catalogue for reference.

SESAC, originally their name stood for Society of European Stage Authors&Composers and they were founded in 1930 to serve European composers, who were not adequately represented in the US.  Today they handle music licensing around the world and their site also provides valuable information on songwriting, licensing and catalogue owners.