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Australian bassist heading to US - where to go?? (advice needed)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bass349, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Hello fellow TBers,

    A long awaited trip is finally in its planning stages for me to relocate to the US to pursue a career as a session/freelance bassist. I'm planning for the end of next year - it's seems like a while away now, but I’m sure it'll creep up on me really quick!

    To give you a bit of background I’ve studied at the conservatorium over here, starting in the contemporary music course, and moving onto the Ba Jazz. I never finished the Jazz course - I took a year off, and have been getting too much work to really justify going back.

    I'm currently in Perth, WA. Life is pretty good, I teach and gig for a living and the money is good, the lifestyle is great - so I can't complain really! I've always had this goal to have a crack at the session game is the US though, and I feel that if I don't do it now then I’ll look back in 10 years time and regret it!!

    Basically my question is - what cities do recommend checking out? I have a rough plan to do a bit of travel first - check out LA, NY, Nashville, Vegas.. all the places where I’ve heard (and read.. on here!) have a pretty happening scene and where there's lots of work. When I find a place where I feel I can settle and get some work, then go from there.

    As far as work, I’m fairly comfortable in most genres, and one of my biggest assets (I think) is that I’m very versatile. I play lots of cover gigs over here that cover every thing from pop to R&B, rock, funk, motown/soul, country, fusion and jazz (swing/bebop). My ideal gig would be playing jazz influenced R&B/soul - neo soul stuff (think, eryka badu, jill scott).. or any really groove based music. That’s what I love playing the most, but I’m certainly happy to take whatever may come my way.

    My biggest aim over the next 18 months or so before I leave is to work on my vocals and DB skills, basically to make myself more employable.

    Any advice (ANY advice!!) would be hugely appreciated in regards to places to visit/check out, advice on being a freelance bassist, and anyone who has done this kind of big move/re-location before... :)

    I should also note that I’ll being doing this with my girlfriend, who is an incredible vocalist and is currently studying at the con over here. She will also obviously be looking for work as well, and we will definitely be looking for gigs we can do together where possible.

    Thanks so much in advance, and look forward to your reply!! :)

    All the best,
    Andy O'Neil.
  2. ok a little bump because i was really hopy to get some responses on this :meh:

    maybe i posted this in the wrong forum?

  3. no you did not post in the wrong forum you just need a few more hours to pass by for the west to wake up! actually am also watching this thread for resposes! :p
  4. RED5


    Jan 14, 2008
    Suffolk County,NY
    48th Street NYC. Music Row. It ain't what it was, but it usually blows away what the rest of the world has, and it's round the corner from Time Square, which in spite of it's Disneyfication? Is still a sight to behold.
  5. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Green card? Work visa? I have a US passport so not an issue for me but can you just relocate to work without a green card?
  6. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    No, he can't. You will need to be very careful as I have heard that US Customs will also "google" your name if you claim you are going in for a holiday and look like you might be planning for work (particularly if you have long ticket times or no return ticket). If you have anything on the internet or your person to suggest that you will be working and not holidaying, you will be denied entry. Your best bet is to work out what kind of working visa you need and applying for it before you get there. Otherwise you will be limited to cash only business and will basically be an illegal in the US and if you get found out and deported, a lot of other countries will refuse you entry.
  7. Yes, absolutely do the right thing, get a working permit and so on, otherwise doing anything illegal will hunt you for the rest of your life.

  8. Thanks guys.. yeah this has been an issue in the back of my mind for a while now!

    I've talked to few people about it, and it seems (i have no idea if this is true or not) that Australians simply can't get a working visa in the US unless they are "sponsered" by an employer over there. Now according to the person who told me this, apparently soon this won't be the case - as the US and Aus are setting something up.. as i said i have no idea if this is true or not..

    I was planning to research this a little more down the track - the thought of not being able to work over there is fairly daunting. If anyone has any additional info on this then please chime in! I have heard that the green card thing is a lottery.. how does that work?

    I definately don't want to do anything illegally... a guitarist i'm playing with at the moment was in LA for a year (he didn't have a working visa) , and it really doesn't sound like much fun at all.

    Also, how does the union work over there?? I had a class at uni a few years ago where the lecturer was telling me that in the US all gigs need to go through an agent, you need to be part of a union etc.. that is most definately not the case over here. Is there any truth to that (i'm pretty sure that lecturer had never in her life even been to the US, let alone worked there)?

    Thanks heaps for the replies guys!!

    all the best,

    PS. RED5 - NYC is most DEFINATELY on the list!!! Ever since i started playing jazz i've had this dream of ending up in NY someday haha. Having said that i've heard from a few guys that NYC is actually really hard to make a living in playing music/jazz, simply because the place is so overflooded with musos.. any truth to this? I've also heard you've got to be in the rights circles etc, and the pay ain't that great unless you're playing the good clubs. Would love to hear your opinion on that! I really can't wait to check all this stuff out for myself, but definately if you guys could fill me in on anything to expect, man that just helps more than you can imagine.
  9. Deluge Of Sound

    Deluge Of Sound Banned

    Nov 8, 2007
    Ask Janek, dude. He does that for a living (unless I've got something wrong)

    you might want to repost this in his "Ask A Pro" section.
  10. Awesome cheers, yeah was thinking the same thing. Janek's the man! Such an incredible player, and it's awesome that he is so generous in giving out his advise. Was hoping to get a better idea of exactly what i want to do/where i want to go/how i'm hoping to achieve it before i bothered him though :)
  11. The best is to contact the US consulate and ask for various options.

    The green card lottery is done each year -- each country has a fixed amount of green card slots available. Depending on the country it is easier than expected to get one through the lottery, or then really hard. Some countries have more applicants.

    Otherwise the most reasonable way is if a US employer is sponsoring you -- but it's getting very expensive nowadays so usually this is done if someone is really a productive person and key person for the company.

    Also, if you get the 'green card', you need to live in US, if you leave the place for a longer time it is no longer considered that you want to maintain status in the country and thus you could lose it.

    Anyway, as mentioned, contact the US consulate and find out about all the options. Sometimes some countries have special arrangements for short time work visas that might be easy to obtain. Anyway, as I said, play by the rules. --Kent
  12. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    NYC is a bitch to get started, as you need to be connected. You will likely need a SS number or other proof to get a gig. Its all about knowing the union contractors for gigs. You need to get to know them, or the musical directors of shows. Now, in all honesty, you will be competing against people like Tom Barney for theater gigs (google him if you don't know who he is). There are people who can read charts upside down.

    Warning, theater gigs can destroy and rot your brain. Many of the players I have met from that world have issues, like screaming, running from the room anytime anything by Andrew Lloyd Weber comes on.

    Most jazz gigs not at Dizzy's, the Vanguard or the Blue Note don't pay crap. And there are people with DB chops to burn looking for these jazz gigs. Google "Harvie S".

    Also, vocalists in NYC are a dime a dozen. Google "Kristen and Client #9" to see what I mean. My RE Broker was a singer, my current girlfriend is a singer, who has some regular gigs, but still needs a day job. I have met world class classical singers with reviews in Gramophone and rave reviews from Europe, who work temp jobs at Banks during their downtimes.

    Also NYC is very expensive, $1500 a month studios, $2000 one bedrooms, in areas NORTH of 125th st now. Much more farther south. Even Brooklyn is getting pricey.
  13. Steve Clark

    Steve Clark

    Jan 9, 2004
    London ON
    Yes, best to do it legit or not at all. If you get cuaght you'll never get back. There was a story not long ago of a professor based in Canada making a trip to visit family. Googled the name and it showed that he had written papers back in the 60's on drug use/LSD and he is now barred from entry. Not sure if I have the story completely correct but I did choke when I learned that Homeland Security has boiled down to a Google search.

    That said, a touring duo that I know, which will remain nameless, in case they come up in a Google search are back and forth the Nashville regularly and points in between. Never had an issue with crossing the border and all their 'vacations'. But to me its a huge risk in that if they do get caught then they could cut themselves off from a huge market.

    In my case I do maintain my citizenship but apparently I should be filing a tax return even though I was only in the US when I was born in 66.

  14. CrashBang


    Jan 1, 2008
    Newton, MA
    It is slightly easier to get a visa if you have a special talent. Baseball players from the Dominican Republic, ballet dancers from the Soviet block countries, bass players from Austrailia.

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