Money from Music: Where We Live
How does location impact musicians and composers? Do ‘music cities’ – loosely defined as places where there is a higher concentration of commercial record labels, studios, publishers, or other important commercial industry players – such as Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York offer greater opportunities for artists?
While the over 5,300 respondents of the Money from Music survey lived in all 50 states and also outside the USA, approximately 11% of respondents reported living in the metro areas of Nashville, New York City, or Los Angeles – all cities that have a higher concentration of creative workers [Note 1] compared to the national average.
What is so special about these cities? Do opportunities attributed to location favor artists who play certain roles or are at a certain point in their careers? With the internet making it easy to communicate directly with fans, decision makers, and the press, has the importance of location changed in the last decade? What are the factors that trump location in building a music career?
This memo reviews some of the major themes that emerged from the interviews [Note 2], as well as some supporting data from the Money from Music Survey, to help us better understand how location impacts musicians’ and composers’ earning capacity, and the ability for them to build or sustain careers in music.
This memo explores:
- The value of networking
- Distinguishing characteristics of music cities
- Value of proximity to networks and opportunities
- Session musicians and music cities
- Being a full time musician in New York, L.A., or Nashville
- Hourly wage and Los Angeles musicians
- Benefits of industry concentration
- Who doesn’t need to live in a music city
- The power of a track record
- Location for touring artists
- Internet’s effect on the meaning of location
- Building a career outside of music cities
- More room to grow
- Quality of life
- Maintaining access to market
When examining the qualitative and quantitative data, we were struck again by how diverse and specialized the musician and composer community is. We found the importance of location varied from artist to artist, depending on the roles they play, their level of experience, and the genre they worked in. While survey respondents who lived in Los Angeles, New York or Nashville were earning more than their counterparts in other cities, career building can happen outside of major music industry cities as well. We also heard that, at the end of the day, it was strong relationships that ultimately made a difference in careers.