Moving to the U.S, going pro

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by eukatheude, Jan 22, 2019.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. I'm almost 28 years old, and lived all my life in Italy. Playing professionally here, especially in my area, is not easy especially since people here tend to care more about how you fit into certain criterias and how good is your talk rather than what you can actually do.
    So I'm in a pattern of doing some poopy job dead end job for some time, leaving, getting another poopy job etc etc.
    I've been wanting to see the US of A for a long, long time and I think the moment to jump is well overdue. I'd like to go straight to New York, but it's an expensive city as far as I know and my finances are quite limited. So I'm thinking, since I have relatives in Vancouver, CA I might move there and work some more poopy jobs for a few months, buy a cheap car and slowly make my way through the continent working whatever temp jobs I find, playing all the gigs I can find, and hopefully get to NY in a year or two having finally perfected my craft, and possibly settle there.
    I can play. I mean, the least arrogantly as one can possibly say this, that I can really play, problem is I lack experience (in my area it's really hard to find reliable, good musicians to work with, and I haven't played an actual gig in two years. I know it sounds like I'm blaming others, but I've never did that, while certainly doing some of my worst, in the past, to get to this situation), which I'm looking to get while traveling. I can improvise, I can hold a groove for days, I can play odd times, I can catch up pretty much instantly on almost any song I may have never heard before, I can solo, I can get good tones, I can read charts (but not sheets, at least not first sight if it's more complicated than, say, straight eights, one chord per bar), I can play almost any genre, but I need more experience to do so with confidence and consistency. I'm also good with drums and percussion, but have started playing those like an year ago so pro playing is not yet in my league.
    I can't sweet talk, I can't (won't) BS my way into things, I can't fake interest in something/someone when I have none, I can't talk about stuff I have nothing to say about.
    I don't have any formal education (dropped out of high school) but I consider myself more knowledgeable than most college boys my age. I'm quite clever but often come off as a complete idiot to the average person, which I guess the language barrier is going to heavily exacerbate.

    All that said... a "travelling lifestyle" like that would be almost impossible and certainly frustrating in Italy, due to all the paperwork and bureaucracy and timewasters one has to get involved in for all the basic things (9-5 jobs, renting a flat, mandatory insurances, taxes for moving house [here you can expect to throw away 200-300 bucks each time you move because power/gas contract taxes, rent contract taxes, rent contracts which require 6 months notice for leaving or else heavy fines or legal action, 3 months advance payments on rent, and so on and on] etc.) so I guess what I'm asking is: can I expect to consistently find work, even not musical, while moving through the country?
    Are my musical skills marketable in the US? I don't mind posting examples of my playing if you doubt it (There are a TON of bands here who completely SUCK but get decent paid gigs everywhere because they are a friend of someone, while better musicians than I play bar gigs for 50 bucks).
    What should I know about immigration laws, health insurance, rent, etc? Who do you call when your employer is not paying you what's due? How radically different can the laws from state to state be? What "victimless crimes" can get you easily arrested (ie. sleeping in your car, busking, working without paperwork, ending up in a bar fight etc etc.)?
    What happens if you need to go to the hospital, get a crazy bill and can't pay?
    How much do entry level (food, services, etc.) jobs pay? How much do factory jobs pay? Can you get office jobs (ie. better paid) without degrees? What's the average rent in big cities? How much do you spend for groceries for one?
    Etc. etc. I'd really love some advice from locals but also from other immigrants.
    Thank you.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  2. Fun Size Nick

    Fun Size Nick

    Feb 21, 2006
    Hong Kong
    You’re really, really going to need to figure out what kind of visa you can get in on and work legally on - that's your first hurdle. Lack of formal education will likely be a challenge in this area, I'm sad to say. I don't have first-hand experience with US immigration but do have in a few other countries, and a 'travelling lifestyle' is something that you're going to find difficult with most kinds of visa. I don't know if there are 'working holiday' visas in the US but that might be an option. Work visas generally are tied to specific jobs and you usually will need a specific area of expertise. If you can find somewhere to study, that might be a foot in the door, at least to start with. Good luck.
    GregC, Bolsyo, TalHaz and 9 others like this.
  3. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    You seem to have your mind made up, but just know that this is a time of a lot of upheaval in the US, and I certainly don't think leaving the EU, and basic things like health insurance would be smart right now. We don't get into politics on this message board, but let's just say that immigration into the US is not at an all-time high...
    hintz, GregC, Greyvagabond and 35 others like this.
  4. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Honestly I think you have a much better chance of success if you try this in the EU. Then, if you are not successful, at least you have residency and an easy train ride home. I lived in Europe in the mid 1990's and early 2010's and I know the music business really slowed down a lot over that time frame...IMHO it's far worse in most places in the US.

    Overall I found the music scene was far more alive and sophisticated in Europe than it is in most of the US. Sure there are some major cities like New York and Nashville that are considered music cities, but if you don't know someone, it's very difficult to get good paying gigs. The unemployment rate where I live is considered the lowest in the US...but many people hold 2 or 3 crappy jobs to pay the rent.

    I also had the opportunity to tour in Vancouver CA in the very early 1990s...I only remember that it was a very beautiful and clean city, and that Canadians can drink a lot of beer ;). If I had relatives and an opportunity to go there, I would probably explore that. I believe they have several Princess Cruises ships that dock there, so maybe you could find work with them.
  5. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    Moving to the US will be a step in the wrong direction. If you have no real job skills and no real education, what do you plan to do for money until you find a band that needs a bassist? My advice would be to go to school, learn a trade, and get a decent job while pursuing your musical dreams.
    GregC, Gorn, Captain Chaos and 28 others like this.
  6. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) mmm Woody! DHDIK? Sweet Treets. Supporting Member

    Music for a living here is a tough tough proposition, *legal* imigration is nigh impossible and takes years. The gates are all but closed, if you have poopy jobs now, you will have poopier jobs here, with high costs of living in/near city centers (the same places with gigs) you'll find it difficult to have any kind of nice lifestyle.
    Drifter lifestyle sounds romantic, but the reality sucks hardcore. The places that are cheap to live are also often truely rough.
    Think of Napoli :)
    Not to discourage, but it's a harsh climate in many places in the US for immigrants so be aware it will be tough going.
    P_Robyn, Bolsyo, Bodeanly and 8 others like this.
  7. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Unless someone else translates your posts for you, you are not going to have trouble communicating.

    I see that @skwee is cautioning that the USA is in a time of upheaval. I’m going to guess that he has little or no knowledge of Italian current affairs.

    Please note that metro Vancouver, British Colombia is every bit as expensive for housing as NYC and San Francisco.

    The Canadian jobs market is not as robust as in the US.

    I am a Canadian that emigrated to USA about 1990. My legal fees were well over $10k US at that time. I have a Green Card that is a few hundred dollars to renew every 10th year.

    Go to the US consulate in the city nearest you to learn about your legal options entering USA.

    Best of luck!
  8. Yes the laws can vary from state to state and even from county to county within each state. Traffic laws, gun laws, labor laws. I’d do some research to know before you decide on where all you want to go.

    I work at one of the busiest hospitals in country so I’ll focus on the “what if I need to go to a hospital” . Everyone in the United States actually has the right to life saving emergency care/stabilizing care wether they can pay or not and this is actually posted in the emergency room waiting areas and is enforced at all major hospitals. Small private clinics are a different story, they can turn you away. Medications and certain treatments are also a different story. But yeah at the hospital I work at basically 20% of our patients never pay us a dime but we legally have to stabilize them wether they can pay or not. Which is pretty reasonable and humane in my opinion.

    If you do need meds though it might actually be cheaper for you to buy a ticket and fly back to get them there. To give an example one of the surgeons I work with was accidentally stuck by a suture needle during a case where the patient had HIV. The medications he had to take to help him avoid getting HIV were $30,000.
    eJake likes this.
  9. Yango

    Yango Inactive

    Apr 14, 2008
    Have you told you relatives in Canada that you plan on parking your ass in their basement indefinitely? I’m sure that they won’t be thrilled.

    That is, assuming you can get past immigration here. These people (in both Canada and the US) are trained to sniff people like you out—and I don’t mean to be offensive, but, you have: no education, no skills, no money, and no real plan. You’re not high on the list of people we need here to contribute to society.

    Most of the people that I know in Canada who make a living in music, spend a great deal of time touring in Europe because the music scene over there is so much better than it is here. If you can’t find decent musicians, bands or venues to play with over there, then maybe it’s not the music scene that’s the issue.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Legal immigration has never been slowed down for any reason.

    Move to Nashville, @eukatheude . There's more work right out of the gate there than anywhere and it's more affordable. If you are willing to play any kind of music you'll do fine. If you are stuck in just jazz or just metal (for instance) you may struggle.
    hintz, Greyvagabond, cerrem and 4 others like this.
  11. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    I can’t echo this advice. My impression is that Nashville is a boom town and property value is skyrocketing.

    I have visited, but never lived there. I am sure if I did a search here on TB, I could quickly come up with dozens of posts that say Nashville is a quasi closed market for musicians. If you don’t have a connection, you aren’t going to get into the in crowd. That most venues don’t pay their performers and every waiter/waitress is a better singer than you and all the bartenders are better guitar players.
  12. orville
    movinngruvin and Spidey2112 like this.
  13. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    How about a start in a major city closer to home? I don't know about London with the Brexit looming over the UK, but there's Paris, Berlin, Rome and others that should provide a lively musical scene where you can start building a network and a reputation, keep yourself afloat with the odd job on the side and play whatever gets paid.
  14. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
  15. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm just saying that good players can find work. That's all. Making it as a bass player will be thought anywhere. Getting started will be even tougher. But getting started in Nashville will be easier than anywhere else.

    Plus, he will have the novelty of not being from North Texas or the hills of Tennessee or Kentucky. He should stand out (in a good way).
    Jeff Elkins likes this.
  16. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    I know times are very tough right now in Italy--the budget fight, the banks looking a bit wobbly, etc. But the U.S. is not exactly a safe haven for a young European musician looking for work. I don't think it is "political" to point out the reality: Wages here are low, especially at the entry level. Healthcare is expensive. Our federal government has been partially shut down for a month now. Probably not the best time to be setting out for a musical career here.
    hintz, Ekulati, Greyvagabond and 4 others like this.
  17. 10cc

    10cc Inactive

    Oct 28, 2013
    Come on over! This is America, if you can not make it here than you surely can not make it anywhere else. :D
    fnordlyone, bass nitro and eukatheude like this.
  18. J Gold

    J Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    You’ll have to have a real day job to provide the $80,000 needed to live modestly and then you can gig every night playing a set at 2am for $50 if you’re lucky. Everyone I knew had some other real job, even the guys who did tons of Broadway and session work.

    That’s why I majored in music and became a music teacher. I lived in NYC my whole life up until 10 years ago when I met a girl and moved to Houston.
    HolmeBass and /\/\3phist0 like this.
  19. mmon77

    mmon77 Supporting Member

    Jul 9, 2008
    Southern MN
    I believe it's actually more difficult to emigrate to Canada legally than the US, but that could just be something that we Americans like to think.

    Getting into either country legally with no skills, job, education, etc is not very likely. About the only way I know of in the US is with an asylum claim if you happen to be from one of the countries that our government has decided it is en vogue to help with such matters. I don't think Italy is one of those currently.

    As a foreigner, I can't even imagine trying to navigate this country's different laws in every state, some of which completely contradict Federal laws.

    The current attitude of much of the country towards illegal immigrants is another thing to consider at this point if you plan to try and sneak in. I wouldn't want people to find out that I was here illegally, that's for sure.
    tekhedd, mikewalker and thetragichero like this.
  20. spencer096


    Sep 20, 2018
    Picton likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.