Open Mic Two Day Jobs and a Dream


By Steve Reck Special to The Pineapple I walked into bar full of polo shirts and spray on tans. I was carrying a hard leather guitar case in my hand, which received half condescending looks since the door. But it wasn’t my idea to host an open-mic night every Monday night while also giving college students with current student ID’s buy one get one drinks. But I’m not in the bar business, so who knows, maybe this idea is actually brilliant from exactly one persons perspective. Most of the time you’ll get silence as a reward. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more than one table clapping before returning to their conversation about the most recent midtown sample sale. This is the “New” York. With an art scene pulverized by high rent and low pay for your average “struggling artist”, this title is slowly dying out to the creative types without trust funds. The old adage of “don’t quit your day job” needs to be updated to “don’t quit both of your jobs and that maintenance job you do every other weekend”. Keeping in mind, this is all just to pursue a pipe dream hobby that mimics the banking industry, where only one percent can make a living at it, and the other ninety-nine percent of those people who have the equilibrium and immune system to follow their dream, earn next to nothing doing it. With open-mic nights, the first song is important. If you’re lucky, and depending on how many other performers show up, you’ll get to play a few songs. A cover and about two or three originals always seemed like a safe bet to me. I’ve seen people do just one song before being finished for the night. Its best to play an acoustic guitar, if not for any other reason than to spare yourself your dignity and time to plug and unplug a guitar and amplifier for just one song. Everyone has a dream, but unlike most dreams, musicians and songwriters is one that can’t be easily achieved by any kind of straight-line formula. Selling merchandise at shows is an outdated concept to unknown performers. When was the last time you bought a CD? At best, they will check out your Soundcloud page. And if enough of them do, then you can possibly book a real show where you might make enough to afford the cab ride home with all your gear. The deck is loaded. Odds aren’t in your favor. Until you write the next “It song” to go viral, you’ll be in the Lower East Side trying to play music for a free bar tab and cab money just to get home. Word of mouth travels faster and further with the Internet, so it’s best to just get out there and play. Who knows, maybe someday you’ll just have a day job and be able to live in a borough right outside Manhattan so that it cuts down on your subway time. You didn’t think you’d actually live in Manhattan did you? Who are you, Billy Joel?