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Old 03-06-2012, 09:36 AM
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Hello people. My girlfriend and I have recently been given the choice between moving to Boston or SF in the near future for her new job. I've been searching like a mad man trying to find out which city is best suited for a musician like me (I'm a professional singer/songwriter with original music and an advanced jazz guitarist). Despite all the online research, the results seem to just keep giving me a lot of contradictory perspectives. So, I'm wondering specifically about the jazz and indie music scenes in both cities and which would have more potential for for a newcomer like me. Like I said, I'm fortunate enough to have some stability due to my girlfriend's job, so I'm really looking for perspectives strictly based off of each cities music scenes (not cost of living, scenery, etc.). If anyone knows anything that could help me out I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

Last edited by JRock119; 03-06-2012 at 10:45 AM..
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Old 03-06-2012, 10:30 AM
Location: Old Town Alexandria
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I lived in the Back Bay of Boston, some very cool and fun areas, and Berklee Music School, plus great nightlife and prolly more music scenes than when I was there...Here is a good site, hope it helps:

Nightlife & the Arts in Boston | Fodor's Nightlife Reviews

I have never been to S.F. but Boston is a beautiful city with alot to offer. Good luck in your decision.
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Old 03-06-2012, 11:32 AM
Location: Pasadena, CA
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Boston has a lot of competition with the Berkelee School of Music right in the middle of town and tons of world-class musicians. When I lived out there, I had a few friends that went to school there and finding work was pretty difficult.

Of course, at the same time SF has loads of singer-songwriters trying to make it big as well, so the competition is very stiff.

Either way you are going to go somewhere that has a lot of competition and a place with loads of opportunity, and both have lots of small venues to play at as well as very large, commercial venues.

Both cities have pretty decent indie scenes though SF's is better IMO (but that's completely subjective). I have a few friends in the Boston scene, but for the most I'm part not a huge fan of the music coming out of there currently.

I don't know, I hope that helped - they are very similar cities in a lot of regards.
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Old 03-06-2012, 12:38 PM
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Really good points! thanks!
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:58 PM
Location: Guangzhou, China
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Both great cities. Though I actually preferred living in SF, I thought that Boston had a better general music scene. You're in luck either way in terms of genre: jazz is big in SF and indie is the order of the day with areas like the Mission as well as a good scene in Oakland. Jazz is huge in Boston; tons of jazz clubs and festivals, and thanks to Berklee, there's no shortage of musicians to play with, nor venues to play in. I haven't lived there since the indie scene took back off again, but from my youth there, hell, I played in a few bands and there was a great general "alternative" scene that kept things interesting.
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Old 03-09-2012, 03:39 PM
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I would think they are at least equal as far opportunities for musicians. I would let your girl friend select the one that is the best fit for her. If she finds the city that is a good fit for her it will mean stability for you. Breaking into a new city, state or region for an artist can take some time. You might get lucky and be an over night success but I think famous musicians represent only 5% of the people who make a living in the music business. It might take about three or more years before people start calling you instead you having to call them all the time. The trend is for most venues to ask you about your "following" before they book you. It will take a while to build up that fan base so I would go with which ever city she could make a five year committment to.
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:49 AM
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Thanks everyone! This is really helpful to get some varying perspectives. keep 'em coming!
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Old 03-11-2012, 08:54 AM
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Both would be great, I think. Historically I prefer the SF scene (60s hippie era) but I don't think that's very relevant to you. Jazz was the soundtrack to the Beat movement, which flourished in San Francisco in the late 40s and 50s. Boston's scene has always seemed a bit more hard-edged (from Aerosmith to the Pixies to even the Dresden Dolls).
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:23 PM
Location: brooklyn, ny
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As a working professional saxophonist, Boston would be the better city in my opinion. You'll have proximity to other NYC as well. San Francisco has some jazz clubs but they are usually sparse on weekday nights. I swear I've never seen so many tip buckets on the bandstage in my life. Somehow most cities east of the Mississippi have figured out a way to pay musicians. Even when I played in Beale Street clubs in 98 and 99, each player made 150 to 250 a night on average. A bar owner on Divisadero asked me to play during Art Walk. He was offering 150 for a trio. He said we would make even more money with tips. I survive by playing from Healdsburg wineries, Oakland, and a SF sparsely. So you can make money but you are going to have to travel.
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