Finding Your City by Allee Futterer… So I get it, you’re a bass player, maybe graduating college and looking to go make it out in the world and then you realize that being a “professional musician” is a lot more intimidating than your college professors made it seem. The good news is that today we aren’t just trapped into moving to New York and playing jazz clubs for fifty bucks. The question isn’t really ‘where’ or ‘who’ but realistically ‘how’.
Relocating is a big step but there are lots of advantages to doing it now versus twenty years ago.
Step 1- Who Are You?
Sure, you love the sunshine, so LA could seems like an amazing fit… but maybe driving isn’t for you. Or maybe you’ve never lived in a city that’s climate varies between freezing cold winters and sweaty humid summers packed with frantic people taking pictures of billboards in Times Square. Most importantly you’ve got to figure out what makes you tick so you can feel comfortable settling into a city and calling it home. You’ll learn a lot about yourself in a new place so it’s important to at least think about yourself and your likes/dislikes as you are going into it.
Step 2- Utilizing Relationships
As a musician and especially a bass player our work comes from friends and colleagues, which we have built trustworthy business relationships with. If you think of yourself as a private consultant in the field of music then moving somewhere that you have no work is a sure way to have your business flop. Not to say that you should just pick up and move with all your friends, but follow the path of your friends who have been successful and created a path that allows you to do well.
Step 3- Getting To Know The Local Music Community
London, for example has a huge open mic scene that is unique to any other city. Many of the clubs there host open nights with great talent and huge waiting lists to perform, some times they will have 30 people performing in an evening. Being a bass player and playing an open mic may not seem like the coolest thing to do but hey, there is a potential to meet 30 people who might need bass players! Events like that can be great networking opportunities.
Step 4- Your Local Bar
We’ve all been there, lonely and wondering why we left the land of our loved ones and desperately needing to make new friends. Not that I’m encouraging binge drinking, but go get to know your local bartender. Honestly, hip bars with people your age can be one of the best ways to make connections that could even be life changing (as long as you don’t act too silly). Maybe once you get familiar with the place they’ll even ask you to play there a few times.
Step 5- Twitter
Everybody is talking about it these days and about just how important social media is, with Twitter being probably the most important in the music industry. It’s a way that people can stay relevant in under 150 characters. This means that your old friend from high school can’t write a saga about her ex-boyfriend’s new lady etc., but it does allow you to make communication with people that may otherwise be virtually unreachable. Say you want to book a gig with a band and their manager won’t respond to any of the emails, Twitter may be a good option.
As my father always said, “If you’re going to be a bear, be a grizzly!” Our industry can be a bit of a bear itself sometimes but it’s not impossible to not get eaten alive. Research and networking will always be the key to staying afloat and taking a new place by storm.