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Moving to Nashville. Is it necessary?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Wil_Couch, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013
    OK, so let me start this off by saying, first and foremost... I know. It's a long-shot. And, yes, my wife is awesome (you'll see why in a second.)

    I'm a relative newcomer to TB, but have been a lifelong musician and bass player with 20+ years experience. Music degree, several years of full time touring, 1000+ live performances, plenty of studio time, etc.

    That said, I've taken the past few years "off" from music. I've kept up with my playing (home studio, casual local groups) but down-scaled the rig, got married, got a real job, mortgage, life, etc., etc.

    So, the wife and I are talking about a month ago, about our current life situation and potential future endeavors when, all out of the blue, she says, "You know, I will totally support you if you want to go back to playing music full time. In fact, I'd be interested in moving to Nashville if you find the right gig."


    Trust me, this is WAY out of my wife's comfort zone. We both have full time professional jobs, and she is definitely not a risk taker. We have been casually talking about moving away from Buffalo NY for some time, but I'm usually the one to initiate the idea.

    Now, I know that the music biz is constantly and rapidly changing. I have the chops, I have the experience, I have the gear, I just need the gig. My question is, however, do I NEED the location? How necessary is it to be in Nashville/LA/NYC/insert-current-hot-music-town-here in order to get the gigs? With the amount of technology at our fingertips, is it possible/advisable to start the search, and realistically find something from home base (Buffalo, NY)? Or, are word of mouth and networking still king?

    As you might imagine, the idea of quitting two good, full time, stable jobs (especially in this economy) to move out of town without something in place is not high on either of our lists. A split/PT living situation is not out of the question (wife in Buffalo, me in Nashville) for a short term.

    Just wondering what input the TB pro community can offer.

    Thanks in advance
  2. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    All I can say is, however long the odds are against you in Nashville, they are almost certainly longer and more against you in Buffalo.

    Upside: Nashville is actually a very nice place to live.
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  3. KrisHayes


    Sep 30, 2012
    Well said!
  4. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013
    Fair point.

    I'm not originally from Buffalo, but my wife is. Trust me, I have NO problem leaving Buffalo...

    Granted, there has been some decent musical talent come out of Buffalo. Goo Goo Dolls (maybe I should say successful, not talented) Ani DiFranco, Rick James, Spyra Gyra, etc.
  5. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013
    Well, I should amend that. Spyra Gyra wasn't from Buffalo, but their percussionist, Emile Latimer is. Actually got to play with him a few months ago. Cool guy.
  6. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    First - Moving away from Buffalo, NY winters is a good thing.

    I love Nashville and would not mind living, working, and playing there and on a couple occasions I have jammed there and was offered band jobs on the spot. I appreciated the offers but could not move there.

    The main issue I see in Nashville is that there are lots of good and great players and being a small (new) fish in a big pond is harder than being a big fish in small pond where you know people. From what I was told, singing bass players get the touring (and local band) gigs over those who don't.

    The other thing is that country music is only part of the industry there and many other styles and formats are based or played there.

    My suggestion would be to go visit there for a few days and check it out. Take your bass and see if you can sit in and jam with some bands (lots of opportunities to do that on weeknights downtown).

    I wish you all the best in your decision.
  7. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013

    Thank you. Some good points.

    I should have mentioned, I am, in no means, tied down to a particular genre or style of music. I'm very comfortable with most, and have done everything from classical/orchestral through heavy metal with jazz, folk, indie, jam, alt., rock and others thrown in between. I'm more concerned with finding the right band and right opportunity, vs a particular niche style.

    I *can* sing, but it's not my strong suit. Guess I'll brush up on that...
  8. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    If money to live on is the goal you should know that Nashville is not a good gigging town. There are so many great bands here that will play for free that that part of the market is weaker here than almost anywhere else you could choose.

    What you do have is a great studio community and many of the big country acts live here as a base and then travel for their gigs. So there is some employment for that. The competition for both studio and touring is fierce. A lot of the touring bands require the players to also be strong vocalists, although I do know some top notch players that play without singing.

    Everything you've heard about the competition here is true. Five houses up my street is a blind guy who sings his but off and plays amazing guitar. He mostly gigs at Carolina beaches. A few streets over is a guitarist who only plays in altered tunings. Everything sounds fresh and new and interesting. I hired some backup singers who each had over 2,000 sessions of experience before they came to town. The also were music majors, one could play keys amazingly well, another had perfect pitch. The list goes on and on. My point is that you can be truly great and still never get known or make very good money although somebody DOES get those gigs. If you have another income while you're getting your name established that is the way to go. Almost essential.

    A friend of mine says: If it's almost impossible, that means that it isn't impossible.
    Just have money and prepare for the long haul. Talent will find its way.

    For gigging, I've heard Austin is the place to be.
  9. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013
    Good to know.

    I would actually prefer finding a touring gig. I've found that too much localized gigging turns you into a stale act. The band may be progressing, but the crowd may not be there to hear it if they see you too much.
  10. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    PDGood is correct and since he lives there he has first hand knowledge. I met some fantastic players who were playing for free, for tips, or $100 + tips for a band in some of the best places in Nashville just to play, be heard, and make a few dollars.

    I walked into a small place and the band was smoking on some old style country and rockabilly. The bass player was an older guy playing an upright bass like crazy. I found out he used to record and tour with Johnny Cash (and other well known acts) for many years. He had a side band playing for tips.
  11. eno50


    Jan 31, 2009
    North of Memphis
    It's tough in Nashville,if you have the right connections in Nashville ,you have it made ,if not, low paying gigs are there, a good muscian is under every rock,I have some friends who live there and play two full gigs a night five and six days a week and just get buy.
    I'am not in any way trying to scare you off, It may work out just great for you in nashville,it's a gamble like anything else,but you may have to rely on your wifes income a little while untill you grow roots there.
    There are people that move there and get lucky right off the bat,but not many
    sounds like you may have a lot of connections during your touring days,I would call someone who may get your foot in the door..
    Nashville is a great town,alot going on but clanish very clanish.
    I live near Memphis and see alot of nashville bands giging in Memphis because they make a little more,and they tell me that the average gig is 200 bucks in nashville,and spliting that up after expenses is why some are doing two gigs a night..
    So it's a gamble and I wish you and your wife the very best,it sounds like you have a great woman,I say go for it, life is short do what make you both happy...
  12. That.

    Also, it's one thing to be a band making a name for themselves and getting launched from a "non-music" town, but it's a different story for a hired gun IMHO. It does happen from time to time, but it's not all that common. Another downfall of not being local is, if you do get called for a gig and you can't make the trip down, chances are good that you're not going to be hearing from that artist again.

    And yes, there are a ton of killer players here, but there are also a ton more artists that are all looking for players to back them.

    Whatever your decision, I wish you the best of luck. Maybe I'll see you whenever we have the next Nashville TB GTG! ;)
  13. Wil_Couch


    Mar 12, 2013
    I look forward to it!
  14. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Instead of Nashville get a college degree and get a professional job so by the time you reach 65 your home will be paid for and will have $1 million in a 401K. In the mean tme find a good bar band to play in and be a weekend warrior.
  15. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
  16. corinpills


    Nov 19, 2000
    Boston, MA
    If you're looking for some encouragement, i say go for it. Nashvile is a music town in a way that Buffalo just isn't (and nothing wrong with Buffalo, I've played a lot of shows there and always enjoyed the people we met). there's nothing at all wrong with giving something a shot and not quite making it, but regrets and "what if"s last forever. The time to do it is before you have kids (not assuming that you will, but just saying). At the very, very least, you'll be moving to a beautiful place with nice people and more opportunity to hear good music than you can shake a stick at.
  17. halcyo


    Sep 19, 2012
    Lot's of good advice here. Of the time I've spent in Nashville, it's a tough time to just be a "gigging musician" and make a lot of money. Lots of badass players playing for next to nothing (or nothing!).

    It's a great town if you wanna be an artist, songwriter, or studio musician- but the level of the competition there is REALLY HIGH.

    If your goal is to be able to play well paying gigs playing in a good cover band, it would be really unnecessary for you to move to Nashville. In fact, all of my Nashville friends LOVE coming up to Cincinnati to play gigs I've gotten them. They pay way more and the clients are super appreciative and excited to have a "genuwiiiine Nashville musician" up here to play for them!

    If you wanna be involved in the creative/original scene, then yea, Nashville is one of those places where that stuff is really going on.
  18. eno50


    Jan 31, 2009
    North of Memphis
    This is what I should have done...
    This was what my mother was trying to tell me back in the late 60's in high school when I picked up my first bass guitar.
    Oh well I always been hard headed........
  19. woofmang


    Mar 6, 2013
    Cincinnati, OH
    +100 - Victor Wooten was a virtual unknown when he first arrived in Nashville - and he took the same road most new players in any "big" music town do (free gigs, open mics, gigs for tips, etc.) - and you know how that story ends. But it started when he showed up.

    I say go for it.
  20. How about a compromise? Both you and the wife research the possibility of getting stable day jobs in Nashville. Then play in a band on weekends to meet other musicians and get a feel for opportunities in the professional music scene there.

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