Things to Know Before Moving to NYC for a Music Career

The City That Never Sleeps is reputed as a place of opportunity, where ambitious young people can pursue successful careers in everything from finance to music. With notable music conservatories like Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music, abundant opportunities for collaboration and performance, and the magical world of Broadway, it’s no wonder that so many burgeoning young artists choose to move here in pursuit of a music career. If you’re considering moving to the Big Apple to bolster your music career, there are some things you should know before you move:

New York is Expensive

Most people are aware of NYC’s repute for sky high real estate prices, but many aspiring artists move here without a true grasp of just how expensive living in the big city is. In the first quarter of 2016, the average Manhattan apartment cost $1.95 million, while rental rates were the 2nd highest in the country, just after San Francisco. According to Zumper, the median one-bedroom in Manhattan runs about $3100. Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’ll have to face the realities of getting a day job and living with multiple roommates to pay the bills.

The cost of living in New York is about as high as Manhattan's skyscrapers.

The cost of living in New York is about as high as Manhattan’s skyscrapers.

You’ll Need to Pare Things Down

Along with expensive real estate comes the reality that you’ll have less personal space, so you’ll need to be prepared to do a lot of purging prior to your move. Local NYC movers, Imperial Moving, who have helped thousands of people complete relocations to New York City, note that customers moving from out-of-state are often surprised at just how little space they have in their expensive new apartments. “Many clients come loaded down with entirely too many things and end up having to sell or put the nonessentials in storage.” If you’re serious about moving to New York, be willing to pare down your wardrobe and other belongings to the essentials. Otherwise, you may not even be able to turn around in your small living space much less have room for practicing music.

Get a Day Job

To expand upon the themes of expensive big city and tiny living quarters, keep in mind that moving to NYC means you’ll probably have to get a day job (or two) in order to make ends meet. While playing for tips in the subway might be your dream, unless you also want to sleep in the subway, it’s wise to watch out for other opportunities to make money. Berklee School of Music suggests that music careerists be willing to be versatile and creative in coming up with a workable revenue stream. This doesn’t necessarily mean flipping burgers at McDonald’s; you could put your skills to use with a paying gig as a part-time music teacher or a vocals coach.

Network Until You Can No Longer Speak

As with just about any industry, the music industry is all about who you know. Take every single opportunity you can to connect with anyone you meet, including fellow artists, promoters, and even the guys running sound check. While you can form genuine relationships and even friendships with your new industry acquaintances, this is not the time for modesty and humility. If you don’t sell yourself, no one else will. Talk up your achievements and talents at every outlet possible to get your name out there.

Use every opportunity to connect with as many people as possible in the industry.

Use every opportunity to connect with as many people as possible in the industry.

It Requires a Resilient Spirit

Music is known as a cutthroat industry and it can be difficult to break into already established circles. Adam Small, a music management consultant who spent years as a musician in New York, advises new musicians to prepare for being “vibed” by fellow artists. According to Small, vibing occurs when resident musicians get territorial and snub new arrivals to the scene. Though this attitude may seem like a personal affront, you must be resilient in these situations. Keep your eye on the road to success and like T. Swift wisely advises, “shake it off”.

Success Won’t Happen Overnight

Many people move to New York with the mindset that success will rain down on them as soon as the landing gear makes contact with the tarmac at JFK. This false assumption, popularized and romanticized by Hollywood movies and TV shows, couldn’t be further from the truth. Yes, there is that occasional random story of right-place-at-the-right-time success, but most artists have to claw their way to the top. Once you’re in New York, Sonic Bids suggests that you need to be “mentally and emotionally prepared to dedicate years of hard work to [your] craft”. Successful musicians work hard to get where they are, committing years to perfecting their sound and trying like mad to get their foot in the door whenever possible.

Even though moving to NYC to pursue music comes with its fair share of challenges, it can ultimately be an exciting and successful proposition. Just make sure you’re fully prepared for what’s ahead!

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