11/23/15 10:20am
The Way Station is one of the city's best free venues to book and has room for your giant stand up bass. via Flickr user The All-Nite Images

The Way Station is one of the city’s best free venues to book and has room for your giant stand up bass. via Flickr user The All-Nite Images

Imagine that you’re a musician in New York City, home of 8,000 bands trying to play the same venues, and someone approaches YOU on the Internet, saying they like YOUR music and want YOU to play a show. How cool is that?! Pretty cool. But you look again at the email. It’s actually a booking company that expects you to sell a certain amount of tickets. They are unclear about what will happen if you don’t sell enough tickets, but they ask that you sign an “e-contract” stating that you WILL sell tickets AND YOU’LL LIKE IT!

There are some venues in New York City that host what are known as pay-to-play gigs: a venue will say to an artist, “you can play here, but only if you agree to sell X number of tickets. Plus, you’ll be on the hook for whatever money you don’t make if you DON’T sell X number of tickets.” But there is an alternative. There are tons of places in the city where you can play a show for free. We’ve put together a list of NYC’s best venues for local musicians that won’t make you pay just to get on the stage, along with some tips on booking a show. (more…)

11/02/15 3:23pm
tk Pell

Pell has come all the way from NOLA to entertain you, but he’s just the tip of the iceberg this month

In case anyone forgot, we live in New York City, home of some of the best live music in the world. But almost no one has all the money it takes to see all 80 million shows that take place on any given night. Plus, 80 million is a lot to keep track of. So, because we’re helpful, we’ve put together this handy list of this month’s best shows. And since we’re Brokelyn, they’re all under $10 and in your neck of the woods…unless you live in, like, Queens or something. (Brokelyn note: we don’t actually have anything against Queens. That’s where they keep Trans-Pecos) (more…)

08/13/15 9:46am
Mm hmm yeah thanks for the advice. Glockabelle photo by Nate Dorr.

Mm hmm yeah tell me more of your opinions. Glockabelle photo by Nate Dorr.

My mom was a drummer in a 90s girl band, which played everywhere from my hometown of Baltimore to CBGB to Woodstock ‘94 (I was five; I stayed with my grandparents and got the chicken pox. It was almost exactly like seeing Trent Reznor covered in mud). At one gig, two roadie dudes waited eagerly to meet the band’s drummer. “Where is he?” they asked. Instead of correcting them right away, my skinny blonde mother, set up the drum set as dudes looked on confused. They had just had it when she asked them to scamper down to Rite Aid to grab her a box of maxi pads. When she finally went on stage, their jaws dropped as they realized they’d been helping the drummer the whole time. (Also, pro Brokelyn tip from mom: maxi pads make great low-budget drum mufflers).

So this was back in the 90s; you may think women’s visibility in music has improved, but, no — even here in New York City, one of the most progressive cities in the world, women have to wade through the daily muck of harassment, especially as they’re first getting their start on stage. Hell, even Bjork and Solange have to wade through the bullshit, often not getting credit for their work the way a guy would. We rounded up a sampling of the best local (and people who play locally a lot) lady musicians to collect musings on trying, and failing, to be taken seriously as a musician and a woman.

Here’s some shit people have said to lady musicians, and what they had to say back. (more…)

03/20/15 12:38pm
The many genres of broke

Broke unity transcends genres so beautifully

The rent may be too damn high, but music is practically free these days. If that’s not enough to cheer you up, we’ve made a special playlist about living large on whatever you can find in your couch, a time-honored NYC tradition. We’ve got some Velvet Underground, some Liz Phair, and of course some Cee Lo. Twenty years ago, we would have had to mail every single reader a mix tape to share this playlist, and do you have any idea how much broker that would have made us?


01/19/15 3:21pm
The years may have passed, but these girls will never stop being CrazySexyCool

The years may have passed, but these girls will never stop being CrazySexyCool

You might remember them as the powerful R&B lady trio that brought you “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty.” Or you might just know T-Boz and Chilli from their endearingly irrelevant talent-seeking TV series R U the Girl. But whatever your degree of familiarity with the powerhouse Grammy-band TLC, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that they’re on the rise again—kind of. As it turns out, the band is having to use a crowd-funding campaign to garner funding for their next move.


11/19/14 2:05pm
The Violin Femmes: Suzanne Davenport (l to r) with Elaine Yau, Anya Szykitka and Donna Gail Horton.  Via FB.

The Violin Femmes: Suzanne Davenport (l to r) with Elaine Yau, Anya Szykitka and Donna Gail Horton. Via FB.

The Violin Femmes (get it??) are one of those street musician acts you see hitting the strings in subway tunnels, wearing funny clothes, in both the heat of summer and the dead of winter. But they’re not your average amateur buskers — they’re all serious adult music students led by an established professional. They just happen to prioritize the joy of playing and performing over making dough.

The group of four-ish, 40-plus women were brought together by pro violin player Suzanne Davenport, who moved to NYC from Germany in 2002. Why, in a city rife with musicians struggling to make ends meet by stacking up whatever meager door fees they can wrest from obscure venues, would her group be happy to take time out of their working lives to give away the priceless gift of music for a song? We asked her for some insight into the life of the playing-for-free musician: (more…)

10/31/14 10:09am

Franky doesn’t give a shit if you know what a bodega is.

Taylor Swift was elected mayor of Times Square last week and we don’t remember voting for her but whatever. Despite the rage aneurysm Dave gave himself, I can’t spend much time worrying about what a lady who released her album through a Target exclusive has to say about New York, because talking too much about these things only makes them stronger, like some sort of blonde X-Man whose mutation is the power to summon a smothering tidal wave of thinkpieces.

Anyway, we asked you last week what your real NYC anthem was, and you came through big time, with a greatest hits collection of jams so good, we put them into a Spotify playlist to share with you. It runs the Gotham gamut, from Sinatra and Gershwin to Jay Z and the Beasties, from LCD Soundsystem and the Ramones to Black Star and the Julie Ruin. Pump it through your headphones the next time you’re stuck behind tourists with Target bags on the Manhattan sidewalk and need to remember that the city is big enough to have a song for every person. (more…)

10/22/14 1:10pm
Photo by Tim Donnelly

Salute your city. Photo by Tim Donnelly

The New York media varsity internet outrage squad was in full effect this week declaring the new Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York” as alternately the gentrification anthem no one asked for and the wispy blonde straw that finally made loving New York “basic.” But for us, arguing that a song by a 20-something white pop lady ruins a city of 8 million diverse people seems about as useful as declaring that Disney’s Frozen has slandered the Norwegian blue collar labor market beyond repair. It’s an empty, pretty thing by a lady who makes empty, pretty songs.

So this is not going to be your New York City anthem, unless maybe you’re a 22-year-old college grad whose visions of moving to the city are all frozen yogurt shops and Chop’t salad lines. But it brings up a good point: we all do have a New York City or Brooklyn anthem of some kind. Whether you grew up here or moved here to do the dream-chasing thing, everyone’s got a song they cue up on the iPod for that tracking shot while your plane is pulling back in over the city skyline after a particularly torturous family or business visit in some Other State, the song’s refrains drilling into your head the question with no good answer: “why did you ever leave in the first place?” So what’s your anthem? [UPDATE: Check out the Spotify playlist playlist here!] (more…)

11/17/13 12:22pm
The Yellow Dogs at Shea Stadium in 2011. Via FB.

The Yellow Dogs at Shea Stadium in 2011. Via FB.

Bands in Brooklyn take playing secret underground venues with DIY equipment as a badge of honor. The Yellow Dogs had no choice when they were in Iran, where they could only play their banned music in a hidden former trash room turned studio under Tehran, with styrofoam insulation and a World War II era gas can for a mike stand. You might not have been lucky enough to know about the band, a Williamsburg warehouse dance pop outfit, before Monday’s horrific shooting massacre, but you can help pay tribute and raise money for families of the deceased on Monday at Brooklyn Bowl, which is hosting a memorial featuring Nada Surf, Dirty Fences, The Men and many more. (more…)

08/21/13 10:36am
I ran. I ran to catch the G.

That’s just mirrors and tin foil, kids.

Nearly every director that was interviewed for the forthcoming book Welcome to the House of Fun: Directors Recall Creating the Golden Age of Music Video says that he/she never had enough time or money to shoot their videos. Many of those turned out to be pretty disposable, but some directors turned budget challenges into creative juice and created great videos. To coincide with our anti-VMA party at Last Exit on Sunday, we partnered with Brokelyn to identify some vintage videos with tighter budgets than David Lee Roth’s spandex pants, to prove that you don’t need a $30,000 Kickstarter to make it happen. (more…)