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Scouting Austin TX over the weekend for potential move, any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by TheBear, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. TheBear

    TheBear Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Hey y'all, I'm in Austin over this weekend just checking out the city and trying to decide if it's someplace that I'd like to move next. I'm mainly trying to determine how the musicians community here works, whether gigs around here actually pay well or at all and if it's open to new people. I'm also wanting to determine if this is a friendly enough place to consider settling down in for the next 3-5 years.

    Any advise from TB'ers about where to go to meet locals, here and meet musicians or otherwise get a solid boots-on-the-ground feel for this town?
  2. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Lacey, WA
    Check out Casino el Camino for awesome burgers and psychobilly, if you're into that.

  3. Rickengeezer


    Feb 25, 2005
    Central Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Steve Clayton Accessories
    My experience is that Austin is a great town but overstocked with musicians--the "pay to play" model is quite popular in town, and venues like to offer vague promises of "exposure" in lieu of cash, even when they don't charge you to play.

    I've played all around Austin in all directions....but almost never in town. Some guys on here have been more successful at carving out a niche.
  4. I just moved from Austin, I lived there for a little over a year and my folks have lived there for over 5. I wish I could say much about the music scene there...never got the chance to get involved. It's good for cover bands, singer-songwriter stuff, and country. There's also some death metal and some other 'niche' music, but no real headbanger scene if that's your thing.

    The job market: If you're in the tech industry you are probably making a good move, but everybody and their mom is flocking there right now so competition is fierce and wages are either feast or famine. I was in more of the famine category, and unless the are experiences a tropical storm or three this year...things are going to get bad because the local lakes are getting really low.

    Quality of life: Housing is cramped in the city and immediate suburbs, and getting more expensive every day. Outside of town it gets better, but the the commute can get pretty absurd. But the people are generally friendly, there are a ton of cool things to do, places to go, and some damned good food to get into. If you're a racing fan, COTA brings lots of fun stuff to include F1.

    Best of luck, sir, and I hope you find what you are looking for.

  5. Do you reddit? Go to the Austin subreddit, they have an entire directory for potential movers, since everybody and their momma seems to be moving to Austin these days.

  6. Yeah. Last time I played in Austin, our "pay" was two large pizzas and all the beer we could drink. But hey, that's more than most venues will offer.
  7. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    When I first moved hear years ago I played the famous 6th street 4 times and totaled about $14 (money made with a cover band in 2 gigs, the other ones with an originals band including a Steamboat gig netted me nothing). Recently I joined a cover band in order to play rather sit around grousing, but I'm in the famine tech side of getting paid so as long as I'm having fun I'll stick with it. If it becomes a financial burden or not fun, I'll bail. "Music Capital" my posterior; I made more money and got better gigs when I was living in Puerto Rico.
  8. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    There are enough bands in Austin that every band in town could play one show a year, and every club would be booked solid. The supply of live music far exceeds the demand for it, so the going rate for live music is 2 drink tickets per band member.
  9. Helaskold

    Helaskold 100% Mediocre

    Jul 22, 2012
    Austin, TX
    I am not enjoying Austin since moving here about 2 years ago. Have yet to find one decent band... it's not what I expected it to be. Can't wait to move away but unfortunately I have school and a job that I like.

    I wouldn't recommend moving here to anyone who doesn't just plan on partying 24/7 or doesn't have a really good tech job lined up. Don't make the same mistake I did.
  10. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Late to the party here....

    Austin isn't like it was years ago. A lot of us who've lived here for a while don't like it as much as we used to.

    +1 to all the posters talking about low paying/no paying gigs. There are musicians who make a living here obviously, but you're not going to do it just putting a band together and gigging, at least not right away. Bands who make a living here are the few who are already established, and they got that way by starving for years. Talking about top tier cover bands that draw and fill in their calendar with corporate events and weddings, or original bands that slugged it out and got some level of local/regional success. These would be bands where a good amount of people will pay $10+ cover charge to see, and can draw that doing little mini-tours of Texas, coming back to the same city no sooner than about a 6 week timeframe. So your tour would go something like Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston, Dallas, then maybe something like Amarillo, Lubbock, El Paso and back here. Better pad that with some dates in Louisiana, Oaklahoma or New Mexico too, and be able to draw everywhere you go. You're not just going to be able to do that with an upstart group.

    There's tons of studios here so there must be studio work. I'm not in on that market so I really can't offer any advice here. Don't really know which ones are established and which are some guy DIY'ing it at home in a room with protools. Even established musicians here that draw make their income from doing things like commercial jingles or giving lessons. There is also sub/fill-in/hired gun work. Not sure how that pays but considering the market being saturated with good musicians, I will imagine it's low and/or the good paying jobs are filled by a small, cliquish group that you'd need an "in" to break into.

    A lot of musician live in Austin for the music and leave town to play for money. The place is saturated with musicians, many of whom just want to play and be "part of the scene". So the pay is nil.

    Cost of living has also doubled here in the last 10-15 years as in property values, rent, mortgages, utility rates, etc. It used to be you could live cheaply while persuing your dream of being a rockstar....not anymore.

    Wages at run-of-the-mill dayjobs like musicians work have stayed static that whole time. There are good jobs here if you're in something IT/tech related, or other corporate business type careers, or highend sales type stuff. Plenty of lawyers, but it seems people always need more of those.

    As one poster above said, "live music capital of the world, my ass". My sentiments exactly.

    I'm comparing nowdays to back when it was Steamboat, Babe's Stageside, Antone's, etc. and the local radio station really got behind local groups with slots on the morning show every morning and programs like Local Licks Live. Nowdays that station is a classic rock geezer station and has all but dropped away from the local scene.

    We used to play here for "exposure" and book gigs out of town to make money. Now all the good gigs are out of town and the only reason to list Austin as your home town is that it still has some benefit for crowds out of town to say you're an "Austin band"..
  11. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Local Licks program has shifted over to KGSR, which is a more "coffeehouse rock"/roots/americana type station. I know the lady that runs the show. She's super nice, huge music fan, and loves helping out local talent. She's a bass player too. ;) It's just that the scene, and the whole city in general, is now something completely different than it was back then, to the point it's not even the same town.
  12. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Also, this is Texas. The Country dancehall circuit pays and probably always will.
  13. phatcyclist


    Jan 29, 2014
    Austin, TX
    I cannot tell you much about the music scene here from a personal angle, as I've never played with anyone. I will say that there are a ton of musicians here, and getting gigs seems to be difficult at times for the people I know that are working musicians. However, there are a ton of venues so there are many opportunities. I was in orchestra through middle and high school, and a few of my fellow classmates became successful musicians in the local scene here as well as other places.

    In terms of living here in Austin, that's a huge topic of discussion. Austin is a 300k person town with 800k people in it. The traffic is awful, our city planning department has been abysmal for decades, and it shows in the lack of roadway expansion and utilities we're dealing with now. Many of the great older neighborhoods are being gentrified so quickly that there's hardly a good way to get in to Austin unless you're making good money, or don't mind living in a rather seedy part of town in an apartment. It can be hard to live close to where you work too the way zoning and businesses are spread out.

    I've lived here all 30 years of my life and Austin has changed significantly in the time I've been aware of it. It's still a great place in many aspects, but it can be tough here. The Austin metro area is the fastest growing in the whole country, and it's a constant game of catch-up to try and meet the demands of our growing city. If you can get a foothold in a good paying job, you'll do fine here.
  14. TheBear

    TheBear Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Thank you everyone for your responses thus far! Man, y'all aren't kidding about the surplus or musicians and lack of pay ANYWHERE! Most guys and gals that I've meet and talked to over this weekend echo your sentiments; you really do have to figure out other ways to make money down here besides playin out.

    One guy owns an amp repair shop on the northwest side of town and told me he's opening up an "old-timey" recording studio to get some more cash coming in while he fixes amps and plays out with a few different groups. Another guy told me he does better playing out of town gigs and renting out his gear as a backline to touring bands playing in Austin than playing his own guitars at Austin gigs.

    Cost of living here doesn't seem to be quite as high as Chicago but I'm still surprised at how high it actually is, especially factoring in driving everywhere to get around and A/C costs for the majority of the year.

    I don't mean to sound rude but this is making Nashville look much more appealing by comparison.
  15. Rickengeezer


    Feb 25, 2005
    Central Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Steve Clayton Accessories
    Having lived in Nashville for 15 years, I'd much rather live in Austin. Nashville is also a crappy place for gigging, and also has too many musicians willing to play for free. But Austin is a pretty progressive city, while Nashville tries to pretend it is. Best thing about Nashville during that era was the pawn shops, but even those are useless now in the ebay era.