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How is the music scene in Europe (scandinavia)

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Jazzkuma, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. Jazzkuma


    Sep 12, 2008
    Im currently a music student in Boston and will be graduating this year. I have started to think about where I want to move since I dont plan to stay in Boston that much longer (or the east coast for that matter). LA is one of my options but another option I thought about was checking out Europe, but more specifically Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Finland.

    Im a jazz bassist primarily but love to play any style of music, love playing live as well as in the studio. I wanted to know if anyone here has any experience living or even just visiting one of these countries and checking out the music scene. I have heard good things but I am afraid that I wont have work if I ever go there.

    As far as language, I only speak English and Spanish but I heard that in all of these countries people speak near perfect english.
  2. bjelkeman

    bjelkeman Bass player wannabe Supporting Member

    May 9, 2013
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Hi Jazzkuma, I live in Stockholm, Sweden.

    In music you do get a long way with English, so I don't think that would be a major problem. The biggest challenge may be getting a work permit, unless you have an EU passport.

    The music scene is very active, but it is notoriously hard to make a living from it, as far as I understand it. If you are extremely good you can probably break into the studio musician market in Sweden, but I know very little about it, so take that with a pinch of salt.

    I have friends who are top range musicians, who come from Latin America, who scrape a living as music teachers, but then they speak pretty good Swedish.

    Don't hesitate to ask me any questions.
  3. MikeCanada


    Aug 30, 2011
    Toronto, ON
    My sister spent a year in Sweden, and I briefly met a bassist who was from Canada and living in Sweden.

    From what I gathered from both of them, (and a few exchange students I have met) most younger people in Scandinavia might not be completely fluent, but have fairly good English. This tends to increase around major urban centres where they get a lot of tourists, and there are parts a little farther "off the path" where you will encounter people who do not speak much/any English at all. If you plan on going over there, especially trying to get into the jazz/studio/freelance scene, learning the native language definitely will help. Regardless to the country they might all be able to speak English, but many people are more comfortable/prefer to speak their native language. Being willing/able to speak the native language helps a lot with diplomacy, making a good impression, making friends, and getting gigs.

    As far as the music scene goes, the bassist I met was working in a major orchestra. (sorry I forget which one) He said it is an ok scene, but the bass market is absolutely insane in Europe. A lot of the orchestras over there buy instruments for their sections and they have pretty deep pockets. Depending on what you are playing now, it may be to your benefit to ship it instead of trying to buy over there.

    Another thing to consider outside the orchestral scene is that you will be coming into a music scene as a cultural outsider. Your typical Boston jazz standards short list might not be the same standards they go to night after night. North American music has definitely made its mark, but there will be a local scene you can only really prepare for by immersing yourself in it.

    If you end up deciding to go that route, seek out people who have spent time in your destination or who are originally from there. A few conversations about cultural faux-pas and a couple of "key phrases" will help you differentiate from the tourists, and selling yourself as someone who is invested and staying for a length of time will also help.

    Let us know what you end up deciding and where you end up headed. Best of luck.