incredibly hard place to live. incredibly hard place to be noticed. people are jaded. they've seen it all. as a musician, you take a lot of knocks. and get ignored far more often than paid any mind to.
i'm a person who always feels that they barely have their shit together. so here is an environment where even at just a tuesday night open mic, people are professional as hell. although they're there to sit all night and play one or two songs, they've got their fliers, business cards, and cd's ready for distribution. they can work a room. they always have a knack for befriending the "right" people, or the person who can get them the gig. and even if not, it doesn't phase them. nothing fucking phases them, they're fucking new yorkers.
even at open mics, they have a tendency to attract more good performers than sucky ones. you could throw a rock in my neighborhood and hit one talented musician after another. and not just any old talented musician, but ones with the package - the right image, sound, writing abilities, and performance skills. they flock here. and every time you stand up to play, that is what you're compared to and that is what you must measure up to. sometimes you DON'T measure up. and it is fucking intimidating.
being held to such a high standard is very stressful.
i find that as time goes on, it gets less so. as i travel around to different places, i'm finding it easier than ever before to attract people's attention and give a good performance. i've gained an invaluable thing by putting myself in such an uncomfortable position. simply because being here has taught me a level of professionalism like i probably never would've learned living in another area where competition wasn't so tight. all from years of just sitting around and observing these fucking people. watching how they do it, and trying to be just as good.
the moral of the story is - if you have the chance to be in a situation that brings you out of your comfort zone as an artist, or to be around a person or a scene different or perhaps more skilled than yourself - take it. expose yourself to as much as you can. you don't have to live in new york to do this. depending on who you are, it could be painful. if you're like me, your ego might take a beating. but it will always make you better at what you do, and your chances of success will increase.