Subway Musician Keeps $100 Bills in His Box to Show Viewers He's 'Valuable'

By Meredith Hoffman on October 2, 2013 8:32am 

WILLIAMSBURG — From his makeshift stage on the subway platform, Mister Reed’s smooth voice and quick drumbeats lured a cluster of teenage dancers one recent afternoon — and then his donation box drew their gasps.

That’s because he kept it stocked with nine $100 bills.

“They remind people of how valuable my work is,” said the confident musician of the cash. "People take you more seriously when they realize you're making a profit for what you do."

Reed, 27, who plays in clubs and bars around the city, said performing in the Bedford Avenue station has been key to his success as a musician — and that he's kept big bills in his box since he started busking there a few years ago.

"There are different ways to generate a business card," Reed said, and claimed the people he'd met in the station had led him to his best professional opportunities. "I've made deals here."

Not only has the money helped spark the interest of visitors, but his profits in the subway have sustained his whole performance career.

"I make my money in the subway to finance my musicians," said the East New York resident, who said he pays eight musicians to play with him in nightclubs and bars.

His most recent $900 stash prompted intrigue from the group of teenage boys, who questioned if he really made his living by performing before they hopped on the train.

"This is cumulative from my work over the past four days," Reed said, claiming that in a way it didn't matter whether listeners or he put the money in his box since the cash was symbolic of his worth. "I only play at Bedford Avenue...It's the Haight-Ashbury of Brooklyn. Its function is for the arts."

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