Blogging the News

Is Rock Really Dead?

October 19, 2014 Written by | No Comments

Just off the 6 train, two young men are playing the guitar on the streets of Times Square. John Khan, 20 and Alexander del Giudice, 20, make up a band called MorningSide Lane. In order to fund their upcoming tour to the U.K. later this year, these two young men travel from Fort Lee, New Jersey in order to sell their CD’s in the city.


John Khan (left) and Alexander del Giudice (right)  sing their hearts out on the streets of  Times square. 

“We’ve been performing for a while, like for five years and we’ve been on tour three times. We came back from the Midwest, Canada and the Boston East Coast area,” Khan said. “But we have way more fans in the U.K.”

Although the city is full of diversity and welcoming new things, musicians who perform different styles and genres of music in the streets of New York are for the most part ignored, and looked down upon. Many metal or rock and roll, alternative rock and punk bands similar to MorningSide Lane have a harder time gaining fans in New York than other performers who play jazz, or rap which makes competition that much harder to gain fans in the states.

As musicians play their music in the streets or in the subway, they get exposure in more than one way. Just being seen playing music is one way and posting videos on Facebook or YouTube is another way that can get them exposure. It is easy for musicians to grow their fan base and fame on social networking sites as many people use them and often share videos. It is possible to partner up with YouTube and make money that way, or they can get picked up by a recording label when they see your music videos.

Khan states his feelings on the subject. “Competition is what we want, the best thing is the fast revolving internet to target people because before that it was big labels and big corporations with specific bands but now you can get it anywhere.” He also says that the best reason to come to New York is because there is so much money the state has to offer, that making money for tours and selling CD’s betters their odds here.

Playing the guitar, Mike Groisman, 28,  a 1980’s rock guitarist who performs solo in the subway at 14th St. – Union Square. He currently resides in Brooklyn, where he spends hours putting together videos on YouTube for his fans performing heavy metal and rock inspired songs by bands like Led Zeppelin. Likewise he also agrees with the fact that metal and rock performances are a little more of a challenge to get noticed by people.


Mike Groisman rocks out to entertain passing subway goers spotted at Union Square.  

“Sixteen years ago my father asked me if I wanted to play guitar. At first I said no because I thought it would be boring classical music. Then I said yes when I became inspired by bands like Guns N Roses, Metallica and AC/DC,” he said. “I came all the way from Israel, and I thought that here in the United States, I can be more successful.”

Every year the staff of the MTA Music Underground manages who plays music in the subway systems. Choosing a limited amount of people each time, the music artists gain exposure and earn some money for themselves. Groisman is familiar with this, and has participated in this program himself but he does not only have to play in the subways. Out of all the applicants who apply to be in the program, about 300 are picked at a time and allowed to play their music in the subways.

“Competition is tough, they choose the best, it isn’t easy of course. It’s like 30 judges, so you need to be really good to make money,” he said “I think in New York  it’s hard for metal and rock because the people like jazz, rap, reggae and hip hop music more, I can play a little of everything in rock but they still make more money than me.”

Groisman says it’s a great challenge just to get noticed, but believes that his fan base will build on as they become more familiar with his style. “I think I can only get better from here, everyone will always have something negative to say. People point out that rock and roll is dead,” he said. “But I enjoy performing this way and think otherwise, I know others will learn to accept this too.”


Categories: Music · Music Under New York Performers · Stories On The Road · Street Musicians