I never thought I'd be a street performer, my goals were always set for big concert halls and intimate high audio quality rooms, but things changed when I moved back to NYC in 1998 (I lived in France for many years), and found the whole club scene lacking. I started performing in the subway, got accepted into the Music Under New York program which gave me a comfort zone in which to schedule my performances. I never knew how it would make me feel, and it took a while to look beyond the notion that somehow performing in the subway meant the end of the line for my career (excuse the pun). Or a place-holder until the next step.
This year I decided to try another angle on how to sell my music, and reestablish myself as a songwriter and showcase that I have more to share than just music. Trying to sell myself as Cathy Grier singer songwriter seemed a bit old school. With the internet and all it's social networking possibilities at my fingertips a change felt right. I created NYC Subway Girl as a way to make me stand apart. I realized that it wouldn't be long before my site would come up on top of search engines instead of just pole dancing subway girls (honestly, I'm not there yet).
I figure if a booker, or an event or you name it was looking for talent, would they want Cathy Grier singer songwriter, or NYCsubwaygirl who speaks/sings from the underground? Same goes for an artist looking for material (I'd love to have my songs covered). The blog currently has all sorts of content, pictures, clips, my take on the world and whom I find interesting and I'm trying to add stuff every day. I have a social conscience and love how blogging allows me to express it. I want it to breathe and not be stagnant, to constantly develop into new directions I don’t even know of yet.
Here's what I believe and something I could have only learned by street/subway performing: we are living in a photoshopped, digitized world. No one knows what's real anymore. But street/subway performing is authentic, it's a-live. We also have MP3 players that group so many artists together that we don't even know their names, where or how the music was recorded, who engineered or produced it, but we know what we like and when we like the sound. We multi-task, as a way of life, and music in an ear bud, or cell phone in hand is now pretty much the norm. When I perform in the subway, people pass by me because they are going somewhere else. I am not the destination, but I do have their ears for longer than most industry executives have ever given me over the years (about 30-60 seconds). I instantly see how my music is the sound track to the experience. Subway performing is the antithesis of recording. The ambient sound of the location adds to the flavor and arrangement of my songs. I love it and so do the majority of the people who experience it too. Performing for commuters, if they don't like it, they can keep walking, and if they do like it, they usually keep walking too. It's just life.
If along the way someone jots down my website, buys a CD, hires me for a gig then I've started a conversation, my hope is that my blog will continue it.
Of course I'd like my blog to be bigger than all of this. I'd like to have people contribute to it, I'd like NYCsubwaygirl to be a place for collaboration. And take the music thing to another level.
What do you think? Leave me a comment or a suggestion.
Here's to 2010!
FYI I wrote all this in response to an email from DIY musicians guru Derek Sivers (he started CDbaby and hostbaby and then sold the company in 2008 to a charitable trust benefiting music education) he continues to do more inspirational and educationally fantastic work.