Relocating For Your Career
©2004 By Bronson Herrmuth
Over the years one of the questions I am asked the most concerns the subject of relocating. Whether or not it makes a difference where you live if you are serious about pursuing a career in music. After so many hours of discussing the subject and having done it myself more than once, you would think I would have a definite answer to this question. Well, the fact is I don't.
So many factors play into this. Factors like how talented you really are, exactly what it is you do in the business, how many people your income has to feed and care for, where you live now, how much money you have, and what your ultimate goals are in the music business. Then of course, you have to decide where it is you should move to. The genre of music you work in should dictate that, since some cities are better than others, depending on your style of music.
I have relocated from Iowa to Nashville twice. The first time was in 1983 and I moved back home in 1985. The second time was in 1989 and 2004 finds me still based on Music Row. Although I learned a tremendous amount about the music business my first two years living in Nashville, I wasn't finished pursuing getting another record deal with my band, The Ozone Ramblers. Two years of working in publishing and establishing relationships in the Music Row community taught me a lot, but it also wetted my appetite to go back on the road as an artist and give it another run. To put it simply, I wasn't ready for Nashville in the mid 80's and I was aching to tour again with the Ramblers.
In a music community like Nashville, New York, Los Angeles, as it is in London, or Madrid or Paris, talent is a given - you Better be. Cities known for their music are filled with the "cream of the crop", from all over the globe. An almost over abundance of extremely talented individuals who already made the decision to relocate for their career. Of all the folks I know living in Nashville, only a handful of them were actually born here, and one of those is my son. All of the rest made the move here for the sake of their career. Many of those, just like I did, have moved back and forth from their respective hometowns more than once. Many times more than that arrive to live here a short time, and then to head back home to never return.
I do believe that if someone is destined to relocate, they know it. No one has to tell them they should move, and no one could stop them from relocating if they tried. One thing I have heard reiterated by many who have moved, was their fear of what would happen if they didn't. The fear of finding themselves looking in the mirror one day, if they didn't relocate, and having to always wonder how things would have worked out, if they would have moved to another location. If they just would have "went" for it.
When it comes right down to it, if you are a working musician you are already traveling and away from home, just like if you had already relocated to one of the major music cities. Anyone who plays music professionally has probably logged some road miles already. A lot of the musicians, singers, performing songwriters that do relocate to Nashville, find it so hard to make a living playing music, that they end up going back on the road pretty quickly. No doubt it is an advantage to base out of Nashville if you are a touring act since being from Nashville can get you a bigger payday on the road. Meanwhile the vast majority of people who do move here are trying to achieve another level. Most of them feel they have "been there - done that", and the last thing they want to do is climb into another van to head back out on the road. They didn't move to Nashville to just keep doing what they were already doing. Their aspirations are much, much higher and of course they have their dreams of fame and fortune to deal with.
With that said, I will leave you with this. A couple of years ago I attended a panel of music industry notables, taking place as a part of the Americana Music Association's annual conference in Nashville. One of the panelists, who had actually come out of retirement to be on this panel, had been a major label executive in Los Angeles for over 25 years. When one of the audience raised a question about relocating, they directed it to him. He spoke with enthusiasm and pulled no punches with his response. First he established the fact that for his entire label career, he had skirted and danced around answering any artist or songwriter who had asked him this question (kind of like I have up to now in this article). Then he answered. Yes, Definitely! You must relocate if you are really serious about having success in the music business, if you don't already live in one of the major music communities. Thinking anything else is fooling yourself completely and the longer you wait, the harder it will be.
Food for thought, for sure. Hard to argue the man's point, especially coming from someone who accomplished incredible success in his own career and has intimate, inside knowledge of how the music business works. I know he had the full attention of every conference attendee in the room when he said it, including his fellow panelists who all nodded their heads in obvious agreement. It was evident to everyone there, that he had been waiting a long time to speak his mind on this subject and I must say he made the most of it. Being that his listening audience included many aspiring Americana music artists and songwriters, who had traveled many miles to attend the conference, there is no doubt in my mind that some of those people have since relocated, motivated by this gentleman's very words that afternoon in Nashville.
Should you relocate? I honestly don't know, but I bet you know if you should. If you are planning on relocating for your career, I wish you all the luck. Travel safe and holler at me if you decide to choose Music Row in Nashville as your destination.
Authors Note: I invite you to listen free to my narration of a few chapters from my book:
Dedication & Acknowledgements - Dedication (2.1 MB) mp3
Chapter 3 - Rehearsing - Rehearsing (5.5 MB) mp3
Chapter 7 - Your Name - Your Name (8.6 MB) mp3
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