Does it matter where you live if you want a music career?
The music industry seems to be everywhere these days. It seems to be in places no one expects, and also like people from all walks of life are being discovered every five seconds. Is that true? Are there really more people today being offered jobs in the music industry than there were in previous decades?
It depends on how you define that, but generally speaking, yes. So, that begs the questions: “Where do you have to move to get one of these jobs?” Or do you even have to move? Are the jobs so omnipresent that you can stay in your hometown and find work in the music industry?
The answer to that question is complicated. It all kind of depends on what you’re attempting to accomplish. Are you someone who wants to get your band signed? Then, yes, moving to a big city is definitely better for you. Are you looking to work as an audio engineer or producer? That has a more flexible answer.
The Brights Lights of the Big City?
First of all, if you move to a big music city, I promise you won’t be the first musician with that idea. Your show suddenly got a lot less special simply because it is one of possibly hundreds of events going on on any given night. It’s harder to get press, and those industry people who COULD come to your show are spoiled for choice – as are fans.
The cost of living tends to be higher in many industry centers, which is a real concern for up and coming musicians. If you want to work on the business side of the industry, but want to start your own business, then you have a little bit more flexibility in terms of location than someone who wants to get a job at an existing company.
However, moving to a larger, more music-oriented, city could have a whole host of benefits that you can’t even imagine. You could meet collaborators, agents, or reps in your everyday life. That’s not happening at a local show. You might be a small fish in a big pond, but that also means there’s real room to grow. You’ll be starting in a real ecosystem. You’ll be making connections and building a resume that could propel you to untold heights.
If you’re an engineer or producer, this answer is even more complicated. The relationships that you have with your surrounding scene might be ever-evolving. If you’re someone who has a solid base of connections in your small town, you might be the only game in town. You might be the go-to producer or engineer and that’s a valuable position to be in.
Look for Greener Pastures
However, if you’re not finding those connections are materializing for you, then it might be a good idea to look elsewhere. If you’re feeling like you’re struggling to make a name for yourself, that might be the perfect answer to your question. You might want to find a larger ecosystem to plug yourself into.
Ultimately, you will have to build relationships with other music-related businesses, regardless of where you are. If you’re doing it primarily through the internet, in person, or through a social scene it’s all different variations of the same challenge. In the end, living somewhere with a big industry presence has its pros, but technology and travel can help offset the downside of living elsewhere IF you have the time and resources to put into managing long-distance relationships.
This conversation really just boils down to where you think you are in your journey and what you think you want to accomplish at the end of the day. Are you trying to get your band signed? Are you trying to open your own studio? Or are you just trying to have music be a gig that you do for extra money? Each one of these answers will chart a very different course for you.