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New Yorkers: How has the city changed?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MonkeyBass, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Hey there New Yorkers!

    I've been living here for a little over a year. I came to the city because it seemed like it would be a place with more opportunity then where I was before. Specifically I've been trying to get into the recording world. I've had some luck and I'm starting to get some clients etc...

    However, I keep hearing from people that have been in the city for more than 5 years say that it's not the same as it used to be.

    What are your thoughts on the state of things here? Is the music biz healthy in NYC? The astronomically high rent and prices make it almost impossible to live here. How do you carve out a living. There are thousands of bands, thousands of engineers, thousands of musicians all working for dirt wages it seems.

    I'd appreciate any thoughts you guys have.
  2. Bassdirty

    Bassdirty Supporting Member

    Jul 23, 2010
    Its not just NY...
    Welcome to USA 2010..:(
  3. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008
    Local bands abound and are willing to play for free or next to nothing. Rent prices are among the highest prices in the world.
    If you have skills you can get better gigs but the competition is fierce. Chances are the soundman (if there is one) will be making mor $ than you. Audio engineer "schools" crank out hundreds and hundreds of poorly trained students willing to intern for free at any recording studio just for the experience. your impressions are correct and the cards are stacked against you. Having said that, don't give up. There are opportunities
  4. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    But it's always been that right? I mean has it gotten worse? Better? What was it like ten years ago as opposed to right now.
  5. BassmanAd


    Mar 19, 2008
    I can't speak for the situation in the States but I can say that even in the last 3 years or so things have changed a great deal here in the UK.

    The music business in general has changed; whereas before bands used to play live to support record sales, now bands give music away to generate interest to be able to tour. That's where the income is.

    From that perspective I think it's a great time to be a DIY musician, as long as you can generate an income. But remember it's not just playing that can be an income stream, there's plenty of things around the industry that can pay the bills as well.

    After all, haven't musicians always been effectively mobile t-shirt retailers? ;)
  6. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    A few years ago a website here in New Hampshire ran some numbers on the ratio of bands to venues around here compared to NYC or LA. The results were a bit surprising, at least to me -- it's easier for bands to get gigs outside of the big urban centers, precisely because so many musicians wanting to "make it" flood the cities out of all proportion to the venues there.

    Of course, if you want to "make it big" you're not going to do it in New Hampshire, so that's a gauntlet one has to run.

    I don't know what the City is like now because it's been about fifteen years since I lived there, and at the time I was looking at the theater scene rather than music. For what it's worth, the actors I knew survived on a combination of temping, waiting tables, collecting unemployment, and ganging up in apartments four to a bedroom or whatever. As Madeleine L'Engle wrote of her actor husband, "an actor between shows is not on vacation, he's unemployed."
  7. Stick_Player

    Stick_Player Inactive

    Nov 13, 2009
    Somewhere on the Alaska Panhandle (Juneau)
    Endorser: Plants vs. Zombies Pea Shooters
    The same in L.A. - slower than ever.

    Many major studio closings over the past 10+ years.

    Project/bedroom studios everywhere - no to low pay.

    It's not ONLY the economy... the way things are done has drastically changed - computers. :ninja:

    Unless one is on a retainer from some wealth source, I do not see how one can survive in Manhattan as only a musician - of course some exceptions are there and they should thank their lucky stars, because that accounts for about 90% of their success.

    Good luck -- ya never know!

    [​IMG] Click image to roll your dice.
  8. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008

    There are a few more places to gig than 10 years ago but gigs pay on average about the same as they did back then. The Audio "schools" continue to generate graduates so their numbers only increase, while the number of professional recording studios continue to decline. Local politicians strangle the pop music scene in ways people don't know or care about. Etc.
  9. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
    Elaborate please.
  10. butchblack

    butchblack Life is short. Do good. Find and do what you love.

    Jan 25, 2007
    Waltham Massachusetts
    Two of the ways it happens up here is a few years ago, just after the tragedy at the Great White concert they passed a law where any club with a capacity of I believe 175 or more has to have a sprinkler system that I believe runs about 35K to install. Also, a lot of towns have ordinances which prohibit amplified music. It's also not easy to get an entertainment license here.

    I just found out another club is closing. Harper's Ferry in Alston is closing the end of the month. They changed format in the 90's, but I have a lot of good memories from gigs I did there in the 80's.
  11. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    So if the gigs pay the same as they did 10 years ago, and rent is steadily increasing, and clubs are shutting down...

    Not looking good. But what the non New Yorkers are saying is it's like that everywhere.

    I guess we've just gotta ride it out and hope the country turns around. I'm going to abstain from making a political comment at this point.
  12. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    And then, on another note, after the terms IND, IRT & BMT stopped being referenced, the city was forever changed for me. Those who are natives will know what I'm talking about....
  13. JmJ


    Jan 1, 2008
  14. HateyMcAmp

    HateyMcAmp Supporting Member

    Apr 13, 2006
    I haven't been in NYC as long as some, but I've been in "working band" here for a while now. Here's what I've observed. YMMV:

    There doesn't seem to be many classic rock cover bands making thousands a night playing mustang sally in the city, for better or worse. DJs and touring original acts seem to rule the popular music roost in NYC, at least on a professional level. Most local original bands play for free or a token fee. This being said, there is a vibrant classical and jazz establishment in NYC which has attracted many top creative musicians, although I can't speak to how well they do fiscally.

    We've had a hard time getting any decent guarantees from clubs, bars, and other dedicated music venues for our bluegrass band, which does mostly standards. Tons of places have ticket selling polices that border on pay-to-play. I'd recommend looking elsewhere for your money. Some of the best pay I've gotten has been trough hustling private parties, acoustic brunch/dinner gigs at restaurants, events for non-profits, and even busking.
  15. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    Life long NYC resident (Queens). I am a freelance bassist and I work just about every weekend and have been for the past 15 + years.
    I have been involved in many different projects which is one of the advantages of living in a diversified city.... they have included many different original acts, cover bands doing bars privates, weddings etc... acoustic duets ( bass and acoustic gtr). I have also recorded a few full length CD's and songs for many different people.
    There is no shortage of talent in this area which makes it easy to get a good sub...and to go out and support some great local players and learn from them.

    I cannot sustain a living on the income from my weekend work... it's just not enough to cover my monthly expenenses so I have a full time day job..which I enjoy going to. I have met many great musicians on day jobs...a guy who subs for me on one of the gigs I do is a Broadway pit bassist who is a monster player...I dont have the reading skills to sub for him.....

    Its a tough business and I imagine the struggles to be relative in any area of the country... there is no security in this business so I really do it because I still enjoy being part of a band and playing on the weekend..the money is an added bonus.

    So there is plenty of good work in this area.. you just need to come to the gigs prepared and on time so you get the referral and call back...
  16. TheVoiceless


    Jun 11, 2008
    New Jersey
    I see this time in history as opportunity for "real" artists ( by that I mean people that do this for the love of the art no matter the financial gain) to take control of their own destiny. The truth is it takes less money to start up a proper band because of the economy. In return less money to be made. So if you can supplement your income with a day job ( if you are so lucky ). Also it should be easier to get $10,000 from an indie label then $100,000 needed a few years back. Plus free advertising online, and cheap advertising in print.

    Now I haven't played in NYC for some years now. But my attitude towards the venues, studios would be "hey let's work something out". I think a ligament band should take advantage of the situation.
  17. 57pbass

    57pbass Supporting Member

    I really dont think you need to be from a big city to be signed..if you have a good product thats ready to tour and support the product and get it into the right hands you should be on your way...
  18. MonkeyBass


    Mar 22, 2009
    Denver, CO
    This is starting to turn into the sort of discussion I was hoping it would. I'm seeing both sides here. People that love it here, and people that are really frustrated. Very interesting.

    Also, I had no idea there was a cabaret law! What the heck?
  19. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol

    Whatever your job, wherever you go, there will be people telling you that things aren't quite like they used to be.
    Since you can't go back in time, I suggest living with it.
    As for NYC, I can't convince myself to go back there after 9/11. I'd rather keep it intact in my memory.

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