How to Survive as a Musician in New York
New York City is a hub for artists and musicians, but with so many talented individuals vying for the same opportunities, it’s no surprise that success in the music industry can be hard to come by. On top of that, the city’s notoriously high cost of living can also make it challenging for musicians to make ends meet. If you want to know how to survive as a musician in New York, be prepared to keep an open mind.
However, don’t let these obstacles discourage you. With determination and a little creativity, there are ways to beat the odds and achieve your dreams. Consider collaborating with other musicians, taking advantage of online platforms to showcase your work, and seeking out more affordable living arrangements.
Remember, success in the music industry may not come overnight, but with persistence and resourcefulness, you can increase your chances of making it in The City That Never Sleeps. And, if you can make it here, you can make it… you know the rest.
But first, make sure you have a way to showcase your music to potential booking directors and others that may need your services as you make your way through the music scene in New York City. Develop a brand, stay up to date on social platforms, and create a website that’s easy to navigate.
And when it comes to a brand, be consistent. Whether it’s your stage name or your real name, sync up your website, email, social profiles, and more. If people are interested in you, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find you. Don’t confuse them by using four different names.
How to Survive as a Musician in New York
The key is to keep an open mind and explore all the music-related opportunities available to you in NYC–as well as jobs that may not fall under the “musician” category. And since you’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you’ll have to tighten your belt a bit, too.
- Diversify Your Income
- Street Performances
- Live Performances
- Recording and Production Services
- Collaborate with Other Musicians
- Submit for Grants, Licensing, and Sync Deals
- Get a Job
- Budget Accordingly
Diversify Your Income
As a musician in NYC, relying solely on performances and gigs may not be enough to sustain yourself at the start. It’s important to consider diversifying your income streams to ensure financial stability. One option is to teach music lessons, providing a steady source of income while also sharing your knowledge and expertise with others.
Another option is to do session work, playing on recordings for other artists or in television and film productions. Composing music for commercials or films is yet another opportunity to generate income and expand your musical horizons. And if all else fails, there’s always the dreaded “day job” to supplement your income.
Busking and Street Performances
New York City is a hub for street performers and buskers looking to showcase their talents to a diverse and captive audience. Whether you’re a musician, dancer, or comedian, performing in public spaces can help you earn some extra income and gain exposure. However, it’s essential to know the rules and regulations set by City Hall to avoid any trouble.
Choose your location wisely (think about foot traffic too), and be mindful of the time and day you plan to perform. With so many people passing by, you never know who might stop to admire your skills and spread the word about your talent.
Live Performances and Gigs
When it comes to making a name for yourself in the local music scene, it’s all about putting yourself out there. Seek out regular live performances at venues like bars, cafes, and local events. Don’t be pushy, but be persistent in your efforts to secure a consistent gig schedule.
Even open mic nights can serve as a starting point for musicians looking to build their fan base and increase their visibility. By performing regularly, you’ll become a familiar face on the scene and have more opportunities to connect with other musicians and industry professionals.
Recording and Production Services
If you have recording and production skills, offer your services to other musicians or bands who may need help with recording, mixing, or producing their music. Also, you can save money by engineering and mastering your own music too, although acquiring all that gear can be spendy.
Recording Connection offers several audio engineering and music production programs, as well as other programs, that can help round out your knowledge base. Our programs last between six and nine months and cost just a fraction of what universities and trade schools charge.
Not only will you learn foundational skills, but you’ll also have the chance to network with others in the industry. We place you in a working recording studio and pair you with an experienced mentor. It’s an awesome way to get your name out there, create new revenue streams, and immerse yourself in the New York City music scene.
Collaborate with Other Musicians
Collaborating with other musicians can help you to grow as a musician by exposing you to new ideas and perspectives. It can also help expand your network and make connections with people in the music industry. This can be beneficial for your career as it can lead to new opportunities, such as gigs, recording deals, and festival bookings.
Working with other musicians can help you to get your music heard by a wider audience and, if you click, work together to promote your music. When you collaborate with other musicians, you can tap into their audiences, reach their fans, and introduce them to your music.
Submit for Grants, Licensing, and Sync Deals
If you’re trying to make it as a musician in one of the largest entertainment hubs in the world, it can be tough to know where to turn for financial support. One option is to seek out music-related grants and competitions, which can provide much-needed funding for your music projects.
In addition, licensing your music for use in TV shows, movies, commercials, and other media can provide an ongoing revenue stream, as well as exposure for your work. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can increase your chances of success–and pad your bank account in the process.
How to Survive as a Musician in New York: Get a Job
It is important to choose a part-time or freelance job that will allow you to have the flexibility to focus on your music career. The food industry, delivery work, and other positions are classic part-time jobs that can be flexible and allow you to work evenings and weekends. They can also be a great way to meet other musicians and people in the music industry.
But, really, any job that allows you to still work on your music and take gigs when they become available will work. But don’t be a flake about it–we know this isn’t what you want to do, and your boss probably knows this isn’t what you want to do, but it’s good to establish responsible and professional personality traits.
Budgeting and Financial Planning
Managing your finances is a crucial aspect of surviving in a city as expensive as New York. As a musician, it can be difficult to budget your income, but creating a plan can make all the difference. Consider devising a budget that allows for expenses such as rent, groceries, and necessary equipment for your craft.
It’s also wise to save money wherever possible by seeking out affordable alternatives. With the ups and downs that come with life in the city, having a plan in place can make it easier to weather the storm. By effectively managing your finances, you can continue to pursue your passion for music while surviving in the city.
The journey as a musician can be challenging, but staying committed to your passion and being resilient in the face of setbacks will be key to surviving as a musician in New York City requires perseverance, adaptability, and a willingness to explore different avenues within the music industry.
By combining your musical talent with a strategic approach to your career, you can increase your chances of thriving in the vibrant and dynamic music scene of NYC.