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Old 09-17-2017, 01:13 PM
 
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I'm an aspiring singer/songwriter. I know that it's not technically necessary to move these days to start up a career, however, I've decided (after way too many diversions) that it's essential for my success to integrate myself into a community of other musicians/songwriters and possible collaborators who are serious about a career in music.
Some of the places I've considered and some of my doubts:

* LA (or NY?): Obviously this is the normal go-to. I see the logic of waiting until you're more established before moving to one of these places. Way more difficult to maintain everyday life (supposedly?), and maybe more difficult to actually find that community of songwriters/musicians (because there's so much else going on?); maybe more competition even to find collaborators (?). However, every opportunity is there and it seems like it would definitely be the place to move eventually -- and this makes me think maybe it's just the place to go right away. In my experience, getting "clever" about the road map of my career has been anything but productive; I feel it is far better for me to instead be bold and bring my everyday life into congruence with my goals as quickly as possible, assuming that doesn't entail anything outright stupid. Thoughts?
* Nashville: On paper, this would seem to be the best go-to for that "community of serious musicians/songwriters" without the struggles/distractions of big city life. However, despite being a primarily acoustic songwriter, I am anything but a country artist, and I don't much care for that style of music. Is this a real problem?
* Austin: Maybe some of the same benefits of Nashville, but a better fit for my music preferences? (Melody-driven, primarily acoustic music that's otherwise often pretty left-field.) However, I'm not totally confident that I can find the "serious career songwriters/musicians" here, and I'm also not clear on the industry presence here (I could definitely use a good producer, etc.). I understand that Austin is a music town. But the general advice forever has been, "you need to move to LA/NY/Nashville", so my theory is that a disproportionate amount of the serious songwriters/musicians will be in those places if for no reason other than that.
* New Orleans: I'm putting this here because it's known as a music town, and I dig some jazz influences and the like. However, my understanding is that there's basically NO industry presence here (which I feel is a definite issue, but maybe not the biggest imminent issue). My main goal is really finding the songwriter/musicians community and possible collaborators above all else, but then I wonder if even that is likely an issue because N.O. is so much so a "live jazz music" town -- as opposed to my interest in alternative but melodic songwriting.

What might you advise for me? I'd greatly appreciate any feedback and insight.
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Old 09-17-2017, 03:06 PM
 
Location: Miami-Jax
6,312 posts, read 6,965,178 times
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I have a little bit of insight as I was in pretty much the same position as you. But my passion and risk tolerance was not equal to yours and I ultimately pursued my own business instead. But when I was considering relocating for a songwriting career I had most of the same thoughts and questions.

I approached NYC and LA the same way you did. Best places to be for collaboration and networking (NYC was my preference based on my personality) but I put off any move until I had enough foundation in place (work-wise or music career-wise). Nashville felt comfortable...easier to survive but just as much opportunity and competition as you could imagine. It was very heavily skewed towards country and Christian music, but I felt there was a place for others. You're the minority but there's just so much music happening that it's not entirely one-sided. Austin is a really cool city and I've loved visiting every time. I have a few friends who have been playing music out there for a number of years. They are serious about it but they also have separate careers. It is absolutely a music city as well, but less of the establishment in place which is both good and bad. I think it makes for a more enriching creative community, but offers less of a standard pathway to success. Look where SESAC/ASCAP/BMI are located for songwriters. They're in Nashville, LA, NYC of course, and then ATL and MIA more specifically for hip hop and Latin music. So really those are the main choices for a songwriting seeking all the standard support.

NOLA would be even further down the path of Austin...more niche and more under the radar. You obviously can make it from anywhere and you might like the scene there more.

Good luck!
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Old 09-17-2017, 04:32 PM
 
13 posts, read 7,070 times
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Originally Posted by projectmaximus View Post
I have a little bit of insight as I was in pretty much the same position as you. But my passion and risk tolerance was not equal to yours and I ultimately pursued my own business instead. But when I was considering relocating for a songwriting career I had most of the same thoughts and questions.

I approached NYC and LA the same way you did. Best places to be for collaboration and networking (NYC was my preference based on my personality) but I put off any move until I had enough foundation in place (work-wise or music career-wise). Nashville felt comfortable...easier to survive but just as much opportunity and competition as you could imagine. It was very heavily skewed towards country and Christian music, but I felt there was a place for others. You're the minority but there's just so much music happening that it's not entirely one-sided. Austin is a really cool city and I've loved visiting every time. I have a few friends who have been playing music out there for a number of years. They are serious about it but they also have separate careers. It is absolutely a music city as well, but less of the establishment in place which is both good and bad. I think it makes for a more enriching creative community, but offers less of a standard pathway to success. Look where SESAC/ASCAP/BMI are located for songwriters. They're in Nashville, LA, NYC of course, and then ATL and MIA more specifically for hip hop and Latin music. So really those are the main choices for a songwriting seeking all the standard support.

NOLA would be even further down the path of Austin...more niche and more under the radar. You obviously can make it from anywhere and you might like the scene there more.

Good luck!
What a great idea to consider where the performance rights organizations are located!

Perhaps it couldn't hurt to be in a place like Nashville (a livable place with all the standard songwriter support) while also "sticking out" a bit genre-wise; probably something I should consider more thoroughly.

Thanks for the valuable insight.
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Old 09-17-2017, 06:57 PM
 
7,378 posts, read 11,546,048 times
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The NYC of current day is yuppie heaven and it'd be difficult to find a place where you could afford rent if you were a Mechanical Engineering graduate, let alone a songwriter who is trying to piece together day work in order to pay rent. Do you know how much a gin and tonic costs in NYC?

LA is a little bit better.

Making a living in those places won't be easy, but I'd say Austin is probably the best option given the circumstances.

I would try and get yourself known locally. A lot of 'making it' in music is luck and exposure, especially the 'making it' in the Taylor Swift sense. But still, if you cannot make it locally, you cannot make it in a bigger pond. Post Youtube videos to see if you're any good. Network locally and get experience playing out there.

Last edited by jobaba; 09-17-2017 at 07:06 PM..
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Old 09-17-2017, 08:03 PM
 
13 posts, read 7,070 times
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Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
The NYC of current day is yuppie heaven and it'd be difficult to find a place where you could afford rent if you were a Mechanical Engineering graduate, let alone a songwriter who is trying to piece together day work in order to pay rent. Do you know how much a gin and tonic costs in NYC?

LA is a little bit better.

Making a living in those places won't be easy, but I'd say Austin is probably the best option given the circumstances.

I would try and get yourself known locally. A lot of 'making it' in music is luck and exposure, especially the 'making it' in the Taylor Swift sense. But still, if you cannot make it locally, you cannot make it in a bigger pond. Post Youtube videos to see if you're any good. Network locally and get experience playing out there.
Thanks!

I always figured with NYC, though, that you can simply move a little ways out and then manage a more reasonable COL. I mean, you can get out quite a ways in half an hour via public transport, am I wrong? It seems like the focus there is being right in the center of everything; if you're willing to sacrifice that a bit, can it not put a bit more money in your pocket while still allowing you access to those resources? Maybe I'm being too optimistic?

I totally see the logic in the "gain a local following first" advice. My incentive is more personal -- I've learned the hard way that I need the support of a community of other serious songwriters/musicians, and I need to collaborate. I probably need an awesome producer (even if it's someone who does it in his home studio), and eventually some form of management. Or at least a lot of valuable feedback from a strong personal creative network (of others who know the territory). As much as I'd like to be, I don't think I'm capable of achieving this thing independently.

Now, whether I need to be in a "destination music city" in order to find those "serious, career-oriented songwriters/musicians/producers, etc." is debatable, I guess. My present location has a rich music history, but it's basically a cultural wasteland currently. There were a couple known musicians here in recent years, and even they jumped ship. I think I'd be very hard-pressed to find what I'm looking for. Sure, there's musicians everywhere. But as I said earlier, the general advice forever has been, "you need to move to LA/NY/Nashville", so my theory is that a disproportionate amount of the serious songwriters/musicians will be in those places if for no reason other than that. That's not to mention that even most people who don't have a specific reason to leave end up leaving my present location, if they have the means. I wanted to leave for years even outside of my aspirations; there's not a whole lot here for the creatively-minded (compared to other major areas) unless you get a lot of satisfaction out of being a bit clever/contrarian or fancy yourself a trend-setter of sorts (for lack of a better way to describe it). But I digress.

Last edited by GrungyJazzyMessaSomethin; 09-17-2017 at 08:12 PM..
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Old 09-18-2017, 09:00 AM
 
7,378 posts, read 11,546,048 times
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Originally Posted by GrungyJazzyMessaSomethin View Post
Thanks!

I always figured with NYC, though, that you can simply move a little ways out and then manage a more reasonable COL. I mean, you can get out quite a ways in half an hour via public transport, am I wrong? It seems like the focus there is being right in the center of everything; if you're willing to sacrifice that a bit, can it not put a bit more money in your pocket while still allowing you access to those resources? Maybe I'm being too optimistic?
You might be pushed way, way out into the outer reaches of Queens or NJ. And most of the gigs will still be in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

And then you have to lug a guitar and sometimes amp to the gig because you'll have no car. A lot of times, you'll just end up taking a taxi back and that will eat up all the $ you earned on the gig.

Not to mention that NYC houses a lot of the wealthiest young people in the world and the preferred genre of live music is not singer/songwriter. Live music as a whole is dying, but especially in NYC. See how many music clubs have shuttered because the landlord wanted to rent the place to Starbucks or an upscale hair salon.

http://observer.com/2016/10/williams...ng-unexpected/

I am from the NYC area, and I personally think all of the other options are better than NY.

At least in LA, you can live somewhere somewhat decent, have a car, work in retail, get to the gig, etc.

I've never been to Austin but it is known as the live music capital.

I have been to Nashville. There are a lot of venues, but it is as a whole ... a pretty small city.

Who are some of you influences?

Last edited by jobaba; 09-18-2017 at 09:14 AM..
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Old 09-19-2017, 12:34 AM
 
13 posts, read 7,070 times
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Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
You might be pushed way, way out into the outer reaches of Queens or NJ. And most of the gigs will still be in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

And then you have to lug a guitar and sometimes amp to the gig because you'll have no car. A lot of times, you'll just end up taking a taxi back and that will eat up all the $ you earned on the gig.

Not to mention that NYC houses a lot of the wealthiest young people in the world and the preferred genre of live music is not singer/songwriter. Live music as a whole is dying, but especially in NYC. See how many music clubs have shuttered because the landlord wanted to rent the place to Starbucks or an upscale hair salon.

Williamsburg’s Beloved Trash Bar is Becoming Something Unexpected | Observer

I am from the NYC area, and I personally think all of the other options are better than NY.

At least in LA, you can live somewhere somewhat decent, have a car, work in retail, get to the gig, etc.

I've never been to Austin but it is known as the live music capital.

I have been to Nashville. There are a lot of venues, but it is as a whole ... a pretty small city.

Who are some of you influences?
Ah that's really too bad I appreciate the detail, it's really helpful.

Many of these are very early influences (>10 years ago), but I guess that's often what shapes us:

Nirvana (emotional rawness, energy, cryptic lyrics)
Our Lady Peace ("otherworldly" feel to the music)
Thursday (early lyrical influence; melodramatic, intellectual, poetic)
"By the Way" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pop sensibilities/hooks, production, confessional lyrics)
The Beatles (pop sensibilities/hooks)
Jazz saxophone
Feist, Beck ("understated-ness", jazz influence)
John Mayer, Jeff Buckley (guitar-driven + melody)

I've half-joked before that my ideal would probably look something like a "dark horse"/otherworldly John Mayer (think the more guitar-driven live performances). Or maybe even a more sentimental Jeff Buckley. My guitar work is somewhat "complex", but virtually everything I do is acoustic at this point; even if a part is meant to be a strong lead (which is not uncommon in my songs) then I tend to believe it's better done on acoustic, which is maybe something I took from the "understated" ethic of some of those Jazzy influences. I like the idea of gently "filling out" some very interesting acoustic rhythm chords with the addition of other musicians (jazz saxophone, reverb electric guitar), or letting a strong acoustic part simply lead and stripping everything else down accordingly. Everything I do is very melody/hook-driven, often with a strong lyrical focus and dark undertones, though it's also often very left-field ("otherworldly" or simply unique) to the best of my ability within those constraints. I try to do something different; however, I am certainly more pop-driven and far, far less "angsty" at this point than a few of those early influences would suggest. At my core, I believe I am a "songwriter" above all else in the classical sense -- it's really poetry/lyrics (inspired by background music) that instigated my foray with musical creation.

It's been suggested that I do myself a disservice (productively-speaking) by trying to make the music more than it is -- more than simple singer/songwriter, that is -- and I think there's some validity to that in my case. This is a part of my need for collaboration -- to help me make it "more" through musical partnership (as I visualize it), or at least to give me direction and help me focus in making it "less".

Last edited by GrungyJazzyMessaSomethin; 09-19-2017 at 12:47 AM..
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:07 AM
 
21,187 posts, read 30,351,954 times
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Originally Posted by jobaba View Post
You might be pushed way, way out into the outer reaches of Queens or NJ. And most of the gigs will still be in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
That's a tad dramatic. One can get from places like New Brunswick/Elizabeth NJ to NY Penn Station via NJ Transit or the MTA Subway from the end of the line in Astoria-Queens of Jamaica-Queens in around an hour. Given the layout of the NYC metro area and time involved that's not far above an average commute, and certainly worthwhile most likely for an aspiring singer-songwriter. Also to be fair there are significant other opportunities outside of Manhattan and Brooklyn in the NYC metro.

https://www.yelp.com/search?find_des...trs=Music.live
https://www.yelp.com/search?find_des...70171593237324
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Old 09-20-2017, 04:38 PM
 
7,378 posts, read 11,546,048 times
Reputation: 8174
Quote:
Originally Posted by GrungyJazzyMessaSomethin View Post

Many of these are very early influences (>10 years ago), but I guess that's often what shapes us:

Nirvana (emotional rawness, energy, cryptic lyrics)
Our Lady Peace ("otherworldly" feel to the music)
Thursday (early lyrical influence; melodramatic, intellectual, poetic)
"By the Way" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers (pop sensibilities/hooks, production, confessional lyrics)
The Beatles (pop sensibilities/hooks)
Jazz saxophone
Feist, Beck ("understated-ness", jazz influence)
John Mayer, Jeff Buckley (guitar-driven + melody)

I've half-joked before that my ideal would probably look something like a "dark horse"/otherworldly John Mayer (think the more guitar-driven live performances). Or maybe even a more sentimental Jeff Buckley. My guitar work is somewhat "complex", but virtually everything I do is acoustic at this point; even if a part is meant to be a strong lead (which is not uncommon in my songs) then I tend to believe it's better done on acoustic, which is maybe something I took from the "understated" ethic of some of those Jazzy influences. I like the idea of gently "filling out" some very interesting acoustic rhythm chords with the addition of other musicians (jazz saxophone, reverb electric guitar), or letting a strong acoustic part simply lead and stripping everything else down accordingly. Everything I do is very melody/hook-driven, often with a strong lyrical focus and dark undertones, though it's also often very left-field ("otherworldly" or simply unique) to the best of my ability within those constraints. I try to do something different; however, I am certainly more pop-driven and far, far less "angsty" at this point than a few of those early influences would suggest. At my core, I believe I am a "songwriter" above all else in the classical sense -- it's really poetry/lyrics (inspired by background music) that instigated my foray with musical creation.
If you play that kind of music, you'd be fine in any of those places.

I was trying to see if you play/sing a style that is specific to any of those cities, but it is not.
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Old 09-20-2017, 04:40 PM
 
7,378 posts, read 11,546,048 times
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Originally Posted by kyle19125 View Post
That's a tad dramatic. One can get from places like New Brunswick/Elizabeth NJ to NY Penn Station via NJ Transit or the MTA Subway from the end of the line in Astoria-Queens of Jamaica-Queens in around an hour. Given the layout of the NYC metro area and time involved that's not far above an average commute, and certainly worthwhile most likely for an aspiring singer-songwriter. Also to be fair there are significant other opportunities outside of Manhattan and Brooklyn in the NYC metro.

https://www.yelp.com/search?find_des...trs=Music.live
https://www.yelp.com/search?find_des...70171593237324
Astoria is very expensive these days.

And taking NJ Transit from NB to Manhattan for a gig? Nightmare.
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