Live music in a way of life in New York. In 1985, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts & Design formed the Music Under New York (MTA MUSIC) program, bringing an authorized program of music and musicians sharing their art with the commuting public. Currently, more than 350 soloists and groups perform through MTA MUSIC, providing more than 7,500 annual performances at 30 sites throughout the transit system. From Times Square to Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Ave., artists can be recognized by hanging their signature pink MUNY banners. Acts range from Gypsy violinists, Cajun cellists, jazz ensembles, Aboriginal didgeridoos, to opera and Haitian folk singers. MUNY artists come from all over the world to share their music on the underground.
With thousands of exciting things happening in New York City daily, Transit Wireless helps commuters stay in-the-know by keeping them connected as they travel through the subway to their destinations. This summer, we launched our #musicmonday campaign to highlight some of the amazing artists performing through MUNY. Riders can log onto TransitWirelessWiFi (or use their cellular data plans, supported by the Transit Wireless network) and share their favorite performances in real time, letting others know who is playing and where.
Likewise, MUNY artists can log into the network during a subway performance and upload it to their fans right on the spot. MUNY artist Theo Eastwind, has been performing in subways for over a decade – and shared his thoughts on the Transit Wireless network and how it has changed the dynamic of performing underground. He jokes, “It’s a fantastic resource, except now everyone is paying attention to their phones.” The group Double Entendre Music Ensemble echoes this sentiment, saying that MUNY has “multiplied the band’s exposure tenfold,” and that using the Transit Wireless network is “easy, and accessible.”
Transit Wireless chats with the MUNY artists we feature in this series. Musicians such as Theo Eastwind, Catherine Wynder, Andy Suzuki and the Method, and more shared their stories on how and why they became MUNY artists, and how the experienced has changed their lives.
Theo Eastwind, uses his guitar and vocals to create what he calls “contemporary folk” music. A MUNY veteran, Eastwind originally hails from Austria, and has been performing for MUNY since 2006. When asked the best part about being a MUNY artist, Eastwind shared, “You can come anytime you want and already have a built-in audience. Plus, you have no set list and all the creative license of the performance.” He also shared that he only made five cents the first day he performed, encouraging aspiring musicians to stay the course— “You can come out seven days a week to practice, and $100 made in the subway has a greater value than $100,000 made anywhere else.”
Andy Suzuki and the Method, a RnB/Pop/Rock ensemble of musicians hailing from Brooklyn, also credits MUNY with sharpening its performance chops; “MUNY gigs in the middle of the summer is like training with a weight vest on. The elements are against you: it is boiling hot, the sound system isn’t perfect and the train noise get in the way, and you have to find a way to stop commuters in their tracks. It makes normal gigs feel like a breeze.” When asked its favorite part of being a MUNY performer, the group stated, “…The spontaneous magical moments. It’s so exciting to interact with strangers and to spread positive vibes throughout the city.”
To find out more about Music Under New York (MUNY), visit http://web.mta.info/mta/aft/muny/