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Where should I move for a community of songwriters?


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  • Noob

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 suggest for me?  I'd greatly appreciate any feedback and insight. :-)

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"You're already hereare you not?"  I mean that quite seriously.

 

In every city of any size, there is always a music scene, and there are always people who are supporting it, e.g. with recording, producing, mixing, mastering, and so on.  Today, quite a bit of this activity occurs "at home."  I would therefore suggest that you try to bloom wherever you are now planted.

 

But by all means, visit all of the cities that you mention, as I have.  (Nashville's a two-hour drive away, and P.S. you forgot Memphis.)  Immerse yourself for a few days in their music scene.  But don't bother to join the masses of hopefuls who think that they have to be in a particular place to be meaningfully involved with music.  It's just not true anymore.

 

Also, be careful not to typecast a city with a particular style of music even if it is known for it.  "Every kind of music imaginable" can be and is produced everywhere.

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  • Noob
4 minutes ago, MikeRobinson said:

"You're already hereare you not?"  I mean that quite seriously.

 

In every city of any size, there is always a music scene, and there are always people who are supporting it, e.g. with recording, producing, mixing, mastering, and so on.  Today, quite a bit of this activity occurs "at home."  I would therefore suggest that you try to bloom wherever you are now planted.

 

But by all means, visit all of the cities that you mention, as I have.  (Nashville's a two-hour drive away, and P.S. you forgot Memphis.)  Immerse yourself for a few days in their music scene.  But don't bother to join the masses of hopefuls who think that they have to be in a particular place to be meaningfully involved with music.  It's just not true anymore.

 

Also, be careful not to typecast a city with a particular style of music even if it is known for it.  "Every kind of music imaginable" can be and is produced everywhere.

 

Thanks a ton for the reply, Mike.  The thing is, I completely agree with what you're saying, and I think it's important general knowledge.  I'm not looking to relocate because I feel like one technically has to in order to "make it"; rather, I'm looking to relocate because I feel like I personally have to in order to be successful.  Based on my own experiences, I need the support network of other serious songwriters/musicians.  I also need to find and partner with other serious musicians, producers, etc. for creative reasons.  As much as I might wish it, I am definitely not an independent musical entity.  This is something I've learned "the hard way".

 

Now, whether I need to move to a "destination music city" in order to find those things is, of course, debatable.  I'd be curious what insight you might have on that, but I simply think I'm going to be much more hard-pressed to find that community of serious, career-oriented songwriters/musicians/producers, etc. in Metropolitan Detroit/Ann Arbor (my current location) than in one of those destination music spots.  I understand that Detroit has a rich music history, but present Detroit music culture/community/industry isn't much to write home about, at least not in the acoustic indie/alternative rock space (my genre) from what I've seen.

 

Your point about genre/style typecasting is fair as well; however, I am admittedly (and perhaps anxiously) being a bit of an idealist here.  If I'm going to relocate exclusively to find these things, then I want to be darn sure that my place of choice is a good fit.  Thanks again for the insight. :-)

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I'm from Japan so I can't really help you but FWIW, I think you should do what your gut tells you. I believe working alongside other songwriters and musicians will force you to grow and develop faster in your craft, but the competition will be INSANE so I hope you are mentally prepared for that!

 

Here's a list I came across when I googled cities for singer-songwriters, you might see something you like: https://livability.com/topics/community/the-9-best-cities-for-singer-songwriters

 

All the best,

 

Ken

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  • Noob
1 hour ago, ImKeN said:

I'm from Japan so I can't really help you but FWIW, I think you should do what your gut tells you. I believe working alongside other songwriters and musicians will force you to grow and develop faster in your craft, but the competition will be INSANE so I hope you are mentally prepared for that!

 

Here's a list I came across when I googled cities for singer-songwriters, you might see something you like: https://livability.com/topics/community/the-9-best-cities-for-singer-songwriters

 

All the best,

 

Ken

 

Thanks a lot, Ken!!

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Well I live in nashville, and I am not the most social person in the world when it comes to going out and seeing shows, but I've rubbed elbows with my share of musical people here and all I can say is... if you wanna do country, or some pretty trendy pop music, come on down we're up to our ears in beautiful big haired blondes strumming acoustic guitars and Keith Urban types, but for someone who's trying to be very counter culture and not jump on the bandwagon?  I find this area a bit stifling.  I've paid to have people here produce me and there is a "nashville sound" that I really don't dig here, everything is clean as a whistle, shiny and polished.  And because everyone thinks they're the next big thing you don't have an easy time standing out.  When you say "I'm a musician" in response to "what do you do" you find most people are aspiring or know someone who's aspiring in some way or another.  Like no joke when I tell people I make music I'm more likely to hear "Oh you should listen to my friend's music then!"  Than having someone actually give a crap about hearing mine haha

 

I may be jaded though, I was born and raised here and I got bit by the industry types in my youth, but at the same time I've heard other musicians say the same thing.  So in my opinion, if you want to collab with producers and managers who are gonna try and turn you into the next Taylor Swift or Keith Urban come on down, but even then people like that are a dime a dozen here, and usually seem too focused on their own careers to try and help you with yours.  There's a college town about 45 minutes away called Murfreesboro with a more indie underground scene going on, but if that's what you're looking for and you're willing to go ANYWHERE?  I would imagine there's a better place for it.  

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  • Noob
6 hours ago, symphonious7 said:

Well I live in nashville, and I am not the most social person in the world when it comes to going out and seeing shows, but I've rubbed elbows with my share of musical people here and all I can say is... if you wanna do country, or some pretty trendy pop music, come on down we're up to our ears in beautiful big haired blondes strumming acoustic guitars and Keith Urban types, but for someone who's trying to be very counter culture and not jump on the bandwagon?  I find this area a bit stifling.  I've paid to have people here produce me and there is a "nashville sound" that I really don't dig here, everything is clean as a whistle, shiny and polished.  And because everyone thinks they're the next big thing you don't have an easy time standing out.  When you say "I'm a musician" in response to "what do you do" you find most people are aspiring or know someone who's aspiring in some way or another.  Like no joke when I tell people I make music I'm more likely to hear "Oh you should listen to my friend's music then!"  Than having someone actually give a crap about hearing mine haha

 

I may be jaded though, I was born and raised here and I got bit by the industry types in my youth, but at the same time I've heard other musicians say the same thing.  So in my opinion, if you want to collab with producers and managers who are gonna try and turn you into the next Taylor Swift or Keith Urban come on down, but even then people like that are a dime a dozen here, and usually seem too focused on their own careers to try and help you with yours.  There's a college town about 45 minutes away called Murfreesboro with a more indie underground scene going on, but if that's what you're looking for and you're willing to go ANYWHERE?  I would imagine there's a better place for it.  

 

Extremely helpful to have a first-hand account!  This is exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for, thanks a lot man.  By the sound of it, it's really a shame that there isn't more of an "alternative" Nashville underground scene.  You would think just with it being a major music city and the influx of people and all there would be some kind of representation for that, but I know that change can be a slow process when a place has a history of being one thing.  It also just seems short-sighted to me from a business perspective to be so hyper-focused on one genre, but I guess "country careers" is what Nashville has all the resources in place for.  :unsure: 

 

Have you ever tried attending Nashville songwriters' groups or anything along those lines?  I wondered if there would be any support there for a more alternative artist, though someone else suggested to me that they're pretty country-focused.  The same person suggested to me that there are some other genres present, but if you haven't even come across anything much as a musician born and raised there, then I have to assume there isn't too much going on outside of the country genre.

 

It's really too bad, as Nashville would have been a really attractive option in terms of COL/everyday life while still having an industry presence.  Oh well.  Thanks again!

 

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I dunno man!  And I'm by no means the expert as it's not like I've done a TON of things out here, but I've worked with a few managers, when I was young I was in the christian music industry, I've talked to musicians all my life, and I mean... I dont think it's like... there's alot of REAL bluegrass going on down here and very heartfelt old time country singers, I think it's just the south and the people love their country lmao  And yeah I've known a lot of.... people who tell me I have to change my image and do this and do that on music row and stuff, it's kind of old school down here.  But it might be changing I haven't been into the scene in like... man... it's been at least 4 years.

But my wife and I will go to places in downtown where you can see some of the TIGHTEST country bands and they'll jam on fiddle and all kinds of stuff like that, so it's not all bad, there's a show called 8 off 8th that features rock bands, but once again they seem very "pop" to me.  I might just have high standards though....  dang it... I'm back tracking now cause I feel like I just spoke for nashville.  Sorry nashville, we can still be friends.  

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My experience of living in that city, and in surrounding cities such as Chattanooga, is that great music now occurs everywhere.  The business of musical production of course depends to a certain extent upon the ready availability of recording studios, but an awful lot of stuff is done by sending files through the Internet.  The corporate headquarters of BMI, ASCAP, SESAC won't be moving anytime soon.

 

Sure, cities like Nashville have a certain persona which they sell to tourists, which lately is "Nash-Vegas" on Broadway, but the actual business is that projects of every possible description are always afoot.  I'm no longer convinced that you have to "live in" a particular city in order to "connect with its music scene," nor that you will actually be successful in doing so, even if you do.

 

"Bloom where you are planted," unless you have an itchy foot ... in which case, "more power to you!"  (So do I ...)

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