Do you have to be in a city or be young?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by zeppfan90, Feb 5, 2014.

  1. zeppfan90


    Mar 27, 2013
    I hear a lot about having to move to a "big city" if you want to make a name for yourself in music and that also you need to be young if you want to do it. I hardly think any of it is really true. I'm sure it would help somewhat going somewhere like LA, NYC, Nashville, etc. But I see a lot of musicians making names for themselves from random places. John Mayer is from Connecticut and he is in his mid thirties now. The Black Keys are from a town in Ohio and didn't start getting really successful till their 30's.
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    John Mayer was definitely big in his youth, he was in his early 20's when he strated breaking into the scene. The Black Keys were 10 years deep when they saw success were they not? Franz Ferdinand made it in their late 30's, I don't know how long they were at it before then building a solid base but I would guess it was not overnight success.

    People love small town heroes, but at some point you need to hit the big city in order to make it. It is all about demographics and population, if I moved to Vancouver I would have 2 million-ish people within 200 km, if I moved to NYC there would be 10 million-ish people.
  3. zeppfan90


    Mar 27, 2013
    My bad I don't know a whole lot about John Mayer he just came to mind haha I thought he didn't start gaining the success he has now till about 4 or 5 years ago.
  4. yeah, you can live anywhere and make your music, but eventually you have to take it to the people and show it off, and the more people you can show off to, the more fans you get, the ball rolls, you pick up steam, etc etc etc.

    You can live anywhere, but you still have to tour to get goin. And that means hitting the main markets.
  5. Bass_Thumper


    Oct 20, 2009
    Madison, MS
    I thought that John Mayer moved to Atlanta right before he "made it". I could be wrong there but I thought that was the case.
  6. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    YouTube has changed the fame game considerably I'm well over fifty and the chances of me starting out and making it before YouTube were slim to less than zero now all I need is enough hits to catch the eye of some exec and I'm in.
  7. Any city can become a music hub. Take Atlanta and Seattle for examples. There is a tradition, more of a stereotype, about L.A., New York, Nashville.

    But now that music is digital, and with the internet? Not so much.

    It takes a big ground swell, and some very dedicated and talented artists to all kind of rise up simultaneously, like a perfect storm, but it could literally happen anywhere in the industrialized world.
  8. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    I forgot to add you have to have talent and don't trust your friends and family when you are evaluating yourself.
  9. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    You just have to be the .01% that makes it.

    The rest of us need a good day job.
  10. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    I concur. Taylor Swift may be from Reading, Pennsylvania but she goes to Nashville to record and tours all over. You can say the same for Garth Brooks who was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    Just get your music out there for people to hear. If you're just getting started, bigger cities will have more places to perform so you may have to travel. In the small town I grew up in Louisiana there was no place for live music except for the high school dances I played when I was thirteen. I played in church. It wasn't until I moved to Bakersfield that I was finally able to perform in clubs and larger events at seventeen.

    Break a leg!

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  11. I don't think its necessary that you have to live in a particular city, but you can't live in a middle of nowhere town and never play shows other than the same local pub.

    As far as Age it depends on the music style and type of band. you can play country and blues till you die, you can play rock for a very long time. Its a little more difficult to play metal or pop music because image often has a bigger part of it. Theres probably a lot of Metallica and Slayer fans on here that would disagree with me, but what they aren't acknowledging is both those bands were pretty young when they "made it"

    Either way for both I really don't think it matters anyways. The music industry has completely changed. unless you can get a gig as a full time bassist with the Foo Fighters,Tool, or Metallica (bands that get paid huge money to play big shows)you can forget about making big money. many signed musicians these days give guitar lessons, bass lessons, singing lessons, and drum lessons before shows while on tour to help make enough money to pay their bills. its the downside of the music industry going digital. The money in the music industry has been spread out to anyone who wants to make a basement recording, In a lot of ways for small local bands its actually better because they can sell music on Itunes just like your favorite band can. back in the day we used to be able to sell CDs in record stores, but they all eventually shut down and for a while there it sucked because there was no where other than shows for people to buy your music.
  12. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The big cities make it easier to get infront of lots of like-minded people and build the local following; Cities that actually have a night-life of masses that go out to actually watch live music, and nearly any day of the week. Podunk towns don't have masses of live music goers, lete alone masses of like-minded folks to fill a club. That's exactly why I left the podunk town years ago. ;)

    The digital age makes it way easier to possibly get your music out nationally or internationally if you find the right avenues, even if you live in BFE. But you also still need to be writing great songs for that to take off.
  13. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Where Mayer grew up in CT is about 45 minutes away from NYC. It's basically the greater NYC metro area.
  14. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I am in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I am fifty.

    I would be very surprised if I were to become a big star.

    VERY surprised.
  15. ZenG


    Dec 13, 2013
    Near the fridge
    What about if you live in an out-of-the-way place and you have some half-decent basic recording equip.......and you make your own songs....and then you film it and upload to YouTube.......and then it goes viral....and then by good fortune it becomes a hit......and next thing you know you're in a recording studio in L.A. with a six-figure contract......?
  16. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    yeah, but the black keys drummer was playing townie bars in kent when he was a teenager
  17. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    On age, there's a difference between when you START and how long you can CONTINUE. Breaking big in the music business is almost unheard-of if you're over 30. It's young people who are mostly interested in new music, old people tend to rely on existing music collections, and young people are mostly interested in people like themselves. You get the occasional exceptions like those guys that did the Macarena, but they're exceptions (and haven't had anything equally big since globally, and were already 30+ year veterans of the Spanish music scene).

    Once you do get big, then it's a matter of how long you can stay big. Lots of stars disappear fast or return to small local markets after one big hit. Others build a big loyal fan base and keep going till they drop. A guy like John Mayer is on the middle stage of that curve - broke big in his 20s, now still going through his 30s.

    I don't know if you HAVE to be in a big city to break out, especially not now. The Black Keys were from Akron and still based there. But it helps to be building a fan base in a place with a large active music scene, and it helps to make industry contacts if you're in the same town where those contacts are. While the big hubs - NYC, LA, Chicago, Nashville - have usually dominated, there tend to be periods where second-rank cities like Seattle, Minneapolis, or Cleveland are suddenly churning out big-hit acts. You're going to have to travel, tour, and network to build up industry support and a fan base anyway. Can't do it sitting in your den.
  18. I certainly agree on the age thing, especially these days when video clips are so important. It's also a fact that people between 13 and 22 spend more money on buying music than anyone else (they don't have families to support or rent to pay). Of course there's exceptions, but you don't see too many artists over 30 suddenly breaking out.

    As for location, you have to go where the action is; no doubt about it. You're unlikely to see too many record company scouts in Woop Woop.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    You may not have to be in a big city and you may not have to be young, but those are both advantages.

    You can't do anything about age, but you can move. The point is that it is hard enough to make a name for yourself and a living playing music, why would you want to make it even harder by living far from where the action and jobs are?
  20. brownie_bass

    brownie_bass [this space for sale, cheap]

    Oct 3, 2013
    New York, NY
    There's something to be said for not being in too big a city, as well. Being a bigger fish in a small pond can help you make a name, which then makes it easier to establish connections and move to a bigger city if you so desire.

    Example: an acquaintance of mine broke into film scoring in San Francisco, about a day's drive too far north of the place you think of when you think "film industry". The opportunities were fewer and smaller than in LA, but the competition was even smaller than that (because everyone who wants to break into that arena is doing it in LA). As a result, he was able to get a lot of work, make a lot of connections and really hone his craft right from the start. He became a "go to guy" in the local scene in less time than he would have spent scrapping for his first gig in LA. Which has more value in the long run? Time will tell, but my money is on the path he took.

    YMMV, of course.