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Bass player in US

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Jo Ze98, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Jo Ze98

    Jo Ze98

    Mar 12, 2013
    Hi everybody, I am a german bass player and I'm thinking of moving to US, but I don't know anything of business (pay and so on). Can you tell me about livining as a jazz/funk musician in US?
  2. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH

    No seriously, you probably won't make much money as a musician.
  3. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    Unless you're very exceptional, you'll probably have to have a lot of different bands and teaching gigs to make enough income to support yourself.
  4. ErebusBass


    Feb 20, 2008
    Madison, WI
    You'll probably end up living in a van down by the river.
  5. Hi Jo Ze,
    I'm from Germany too and although I have been to the US several times and played there, I can't claim to have a lot of first hand experience regarding your question.
    However, a guitar playing friend of mine, who I studied with, went to the US after graduation and stayed for 2-and-something years...playing & teaching & teaching & playing.
    One word: tough.

    Unless you're close to international top level and can play almost everything superbly, I wouldn't really think about it.
    If you have Victor Bailey, Jeff Andrews, Billy Sheehan, Janik Gwizdala, Hadrien Fereud, Gary Willis. (insert other name here) kind of skills, great. If not, think twice. Willis actually lives in crisis shaken Spain and probably for a reason.
    Bedenke, dass die soziale Absicherung in den USA im Vergleich zu Deutschland fast nicht existiert. Als Musiker ist das das Härteste, was du dir zumuten kannst. Ich persönlich würde es niemals machen.
    My 2 cents.
  6. First and most important question: do you qualify for a visa to live and work in the US?

    Unless you are American by descent, are married to a US citizen, are coming over with a s**tload of money to start a business that will employ Americans, work for a company with operations in the US that you can be transferred to, or have an in-demand skill that might qualify you for sponsorship by an employer for a H1-B visa, it's nigh-on impossible to legally immigrate.

    There is a visa for those in the entertainment industry, but it's very temporary, has no route to citizenship and is difficult to qualify for.

    If you do qualify on any of those counts, at least you'll have a job to fall back on when you realise there's very little real money to be made in music these days.
  7. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    What he said. Plus, if you are granted a tourist Visa, they are temporary and don't apply if you plan on working and making money here. Playing for free is another story. Also, if you sing, can you sing in English?
  8. There's also the student route if you can get a place at an American university - after a year of study you may be allowed to work, but only if you're in financial difficulty and it's entirely at the discretion of the college and the USCIS. The fees for international students are not cheap though, even if you're not looking at the more prestigious colleges, so probably not the best plan.

    Have you looked into other EU countries? You can go and live and work in any other EU country without a visa. There's a reasonable amount of opportunity for musicians in the UK, for instance, especially around London. Might be worth looking into if you want a change.
  9. WookieeForLife


    Sep 30, 2008
    Look up ramen noodles, it'll be your 4-star meal.
  10. 4dog


    Aug 18, 2012
    Mmmmmm ramen noodles, my fave.
  11. kimmyt

    kimmyt Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2009
    Gilroy, CA
    Eating government cheese...
  12. gard0300


    Jan 10, 2011
    Vandalia, Ohio
    Yes that whole "Give us your tired, poor, your huddled masses....." thing. Sadly, they are just words on a statue.
  13. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005

    Just go to Mexico first and cross the river...
  14. WookieeForLife


    Sep 30, 2008
    Go to Canada and cross the St. Lawrence....
  15. Indiana Mike

    Indiana Mike

    Nov 18, 2005
    probably safer ,,,maybe ,,,the Rio Grande is like three feet deep...
  16. WookieeForLife


    Sep 30, 2008
    I'd rather deal with the depth than deal with the hostilities associated with Mexico lol. :bag:
  17. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    It's my understanding that the average income of a person who identifies as a musician when filing is 35K. That's optimistic. Most guys are scrapping for $100 to $200 a night gigs. If you're getting 2 a week you are doing real good.

    The music industry is actually a subsidiary of of the alcohol industry. In the US we can't drink until we're 21. And there is no DB to take us home at night. And for many people one or two beers can cause them to loose their license. You don't want to be in most of the US without a driver license.

    I was thinking about trying to make a few bucks playing after my last layoff but there are guys much better and much younger them me who will load, off load, play, reload, off load for $100 bucks a night. My back literally can not preform these duties.

    Good Luck if you do try.
  18. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I know plenty of musicians who are earning decent middle class incomes. All of them teach classical music to children, in addition to performing professionally.
  19. MostlyBass

    MostlyBass Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Oak Park, IL
    Just jazz / funk? That'll be tough. If you've got some classical chops there's lots of small / part time gigs around major cities.

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