New York City
I'm planning on moving to New York City later this year. There seems to be a lot of stuff going on there. To those of you living there now, words of wisdom will be appreciated and taken seriously.
Not as much stuff as 25 years ago.
Check out this. It's almost 9 years old, but the only things that have changed are the dollar figures.
This, too. From pianist George Colligan's blog, just posted a few days ago. Another perspective....
Poughkeepsie? Man, if only. I tried that and lived in a $200 a month ****hole and starved like Bukowski without the eventual playoff. I gigged in Manhattan regularly in my 20s, back in the late '90s, and can't imagine making a go of it in New York without a trust fund.
Honestly, do it, but don't sign anything. Especially not a lease. Leave yourself room to retreat. Later in life, the stories alone will make it worth any bull**** you had to endure.
I'm probably a better person for having played the second set of the night at the Spiral Lounge with an almost-was, third-wave ska band nobody remembers back when I was young enough not to have anything to lose. I'm not rolling in dough now, but I like the music I'm playing and I have a job and a nice house in the sticks to raise my kids in.
OP- You are smart to come to NYC. Its really happening here, and due to the number of venues and amount of industry you CAN make a living playing bass. That said, its no cakewalk. Musicians wages really haven't increased since those old threads from the mid 00s, and apartments relatively close to the venues/work have only become pricier. I play a different type of music from you, mostly roots/slap stuff, and you have a masters degree in bass. I don't really know about what I takes to get a gig in straight-ahead jazz or classical, but I DO know about living on a small musician's income here in the greatest city in the world. Here's a little housing advice for the young musician.
A room in Williamsburg or Park Slope (with roomies) is like a grand a month these days, Manhattan being a little (or a lot) more. The great thing about living in a place like that is its so centrally located to nightlife, which is super important to musicians. You can find decent affordable stuff in South Brooklyn (South Slope), Queens (Astoria/LIC) and uptown (East Harlem.) The really great deals are in Kensington, with rooms in shares as low as 500 and good transit access. Lots of musicians live there and its starting to get a little built up, but it isn't brownstones and coffee shops. And get ready for long train rides home after gigs.
Bushwick/"East Williamsburg" is awesome for young artists, and has a very post-college vibe with lots of musicians to hang with 24/7. I would have loved it if I were 22. If you find a good spot, its very centrally located, only 15 minutes to Union Square. However, its not that cheap, its a little sketchy with more crime than most of NYC, and the housing stock is bad. Careful with the lofts and don't move into one on an impulse, many have bedbugs, roommates from hell, slumlord management or worse.
Keep in mind when I talk about living in these 'hoods I'm addressing not just rent, but groceries to the cost of dinner out, and the availability of certain things. You know, cost of living stuff. My 'hood in Bushwick was a food desert with no affordable grocery store. Even if you find a room for 600 in the West Village, good luck going to the local bar and finding a beer for under six bucks. Consider not just rent and location, but HOW you'd like to live. Different places will be more conducive to different lifestyles and budgets.
If you have friends from college, growing up, high school who are already there see if they have a living situation you can step into for a while, or if they know of one. I have strong anecdotal evidence these arrangements work out a little better than CL. I know of a lot of wacky sitations too like 5 dudes sleeping on bunkbeds on St. Marks in the city, but I don't think thats really a good option for any professional musician with expensive equipment. This kinda goes back to what I was saying earlier about shared loft housing.
FWIW, I've lived in South Slope, Astoria, and Bushwick over the past five years. Good luck!
I'm sincerely grateful for the help, everyone. My OP was a little sarcastic; I'm from NJ so I've spent enough time in NYC to know a little about the place.
I haven't really posted here much lately due to school and work. My first posts here were back when I was in the middle of jazz school, still living with my parents, and my life and interests are a little different now. Most of my living up here in Hartford comes from teaching music lessons and doing video production gigs (I bought some gear and with the help of a friend, learned the business enough to work professionally, see sxsproduction.com to learn about that). I can count on one hand how many paying gigs I've taken up here since I moved in 2011, which is totally fine with me. I've made A LOT of progress as a player, and I don't really care about whether or not the money I'm spending is bass money or not; the whole idea of becoming a "professional" musician was to push myself. My teenage logic told me that if I want to be good, I need to be pushed on a regular basis, and putting my playing at the center of my living would facilitate that as well as let me meet cool people and make interesting things. I've now found that is only sometimes true; plenty of people make a living off of playing without really progressing, hanging around people they don't like much, and not making any kind of compelling art.
While I now know that if I go back to suburban NJ, I can certainly make a comfortable, middle class living for myself between teaching, taking production work, freelancing, and maybe a part time day gig. I would be able to have a car and work in NYC often.
I'm 25, well educated, not tied down by much, have extra-musical skills that pay, and my playing has never been better. I feel like if I don't do this now, I might not be able to later. Also, I can't really replicate the kind of musical community NYC has anywhere else. I'm not as jazz-centric as I used to be. I'm mostly interested in "new" music, classical chamber music, electronic/media music, and generally playing lots of different gigs. I don't really know of any other place that can accommodate that.
I may know of a place in the city. PM me if you're interested.
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