As a musician, do you want to make it big, or are you happy playing gigs and being part of a music community? If your answer is yes to the former, then you’ll want to consider these five cities. If the latter, there are a lot of wonderful places in the United States where you can be part of the music scene, but where it’s less likely you’ll be discovered. In fact, most cities and even towns in the United States have a good music scene and you’ll find musicians everywhere.
For those who want a shot at the big time, these are the cities where you’ll stand the best chance of making it.
Most of us associate Nashville with country music, and it’s true that the country scene is fantastic there. However, there’s a good reason it’s referred to as “Music City.” Nashville is a hot spot for all sorts of musical genres. These include blues, jazz, pop, rock, classical, and soul. Some of the big acts that have come out of Nashville include Taylor Swift, Paramore, Blake Shelton, and Lady A. It’s a big city of 700,000 people, so there are plenty of other musicians to network with.
It’s also a cheaper place to live than many others on this list. The median rental price is about $1,425, and the average price to buy a home is $325,000. You’ll want to get started playing in clubs and small venues, but Nashville has lots of popular places, too, like Marathon Music Works, Ryman Auditorium, and, of course, the Grand Ole Opry.
New York, NY
If you move to New York City, you’ll need to get used to the busy pace and to people being everywhere. That said, this island of 8.4 million people is a great place to get a start in the music industry. It has birthed acts like Madonna, Neil Diamond, Alicia Keys, and Paula Abdul, and is best known for rap, R&B, classical, and jazz.
There are lots of internships at labels like Universal, Atlantic, Interscope, and Viper, so that can be a foot in the door. And, if you’re more of a theater person, the musicals scene here is brilliant. Many shows premiere on Broadway and go on to international touring and success. Musical venues to shoot for include Carnegie Music Hall, Redwood Music Hall, and Radio City Music Hall.
New York City is very expensive, so you’ll need a job that pays well. The median rental price is $2,500, the average cost of a home is $652,000, and the median household income is $64,000.
Los Angeles, CA
Now we travel from the East Coast to the West Coast and another expensive, but promising city. Los Angeles is central to the entertainment industry. Movies, television shows, and music are all made there. Some of the big venues include Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Regent Theater, and The Smell, and Los Angeles is home to Stone Throw Records, Brainfeeder, Capitol Records, and Dangerbird Records. Some popular acts from Los Angeles include Miley Cyrus, Maroon 5, Cher, and Pink.
Musicians come to Los Angeles to get big and signed. This is a great place to get your start if you have a unique and entertaining sound and are dedicated. Popular music genres include country, rock, rap, hip-hop, and classical. Expect to work two jobs and to work on your music.
Prices in this city of 4 million residents are up there with those in New York. The median rental price is about $2,525, the median household income is $62,500, and the average home price is $752,000.
Now we come to the birthplace of grunge rock. Seattle is where you go to find a friendly musical community and a hopping music scene. More populous than Nashville, with 730,000 residents, Seattle is also fairly expensive. The median rental price is $2,170 and the average house price is $770,000. However, the median household income is better than the other places on this list, at $93,500. So, get that day job going, get some evening gigs, and start networking.
Perhaps you’ve heard of some Seattle bands. They include Nirvana, Maclemore, Foo Fighters, and Dave Matthews. You’ll want to get noticed by one of the record labels here, which include Sub Pop Records, Tooth & Nail Records, Barsuk Records, and Send It Records Neumos. Work up to playing in the popular clubs, which include Neumos, The Triple Door, and Benaroya Hall.
In any of these cities, make sure you have a good job and work hard at your music. Competition is fierce. You’ll want to be at the top of your game and network well to get noticed. If you need self storage while you’re moving, check our expansive listings.