The Perks of Living in L.A. as a Singer-Songwriter

January 3, 2017

[Editors Note: This blog was written by TuneCore Artist and Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Uri Grey.]
I’m like most singer-songwriters. I’m from a small city that no one really ever thinks about, and I was on the path to pursue one thing, until music took over my life. I started writing songs seriously in high school, when I fell in love with the piano and guitar. I would write lyrics and melodies to my chords, and would study jazz, classical, and soul music as if my life depended on it. In college, I would sneak out of class to practice and write songs, and miraculously pass organic chemistry so that I could transfer out of that place, and apply to music school, before mentioning a word to my parents.

Music has been with me my entire life, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Believe me, I tried. I started out pursuing a career in nursing, then physical therapy, then counseling, and to make the transition better, music therapy. I just couldn’t run away from it. Sure those other careers seemed steady and promising, but I dreaded going to class, then dreaded going to work while sitting in some cubicle. I just couldn’t shake it. Music was what I was born to do. Now, I just needed to find the best way to get it done.

So over the years, I spoke with friends, family, and industry people I admired about wanting to move to Los Angeles. Needless to say, everyone had their own opinions about my future and where I should be. Some suggested that moving is pointless now because of the internet. Sure I had “access” to the world, but I couldn’t stand the thought of becoming just another email.

The other consensus went something like, “The cost of living is super high, it’s overly saturated with talent, everyone’s trying to make it, you’ll do better creating a buzz “here” instead of moving to hot expensive LA where the traffic is exasperating, no one’s “making it” anymore.” I’ve heard it all. Yet I still needed to experience it for myself. So I came.

Seven months in, I’ve now discovered the real cost of LA. I’m guessing you don’t need a long list. You’re probably already considering the jump, but you just need that extra push to confirm what you already know. You should move here. And here’s why:

1. LA is the entertainment capital of the world. Everyone is here from musicians, to producers, writers, engineers, and publishers. Whoever you need to meet, either lives here or works here throughout the year. That should be enough right? I’ll continue.

2.Networking opportunities are endless. Everyone’s working, and looking for that missing key to open the next door. This means you have a greater opportunity to randomly run into that producer you’ve been dying to work with. Or that songwriter you’ve been itching to collaborate with. Just stay informed on where they’re going to be, and make sure you’re in the building. So instead of being another email or a voicemail, you may actually have the opportunity to develop a real connection that may lead to something amazing.

3. Monthly industry events. Industry events happen all of the time. Forums, seminars, concerts, PRO events, festivals, etc. These events place you in front of key players most of the time, all while keeping you updated on the moves and trends of the industry.

4. Film and television industry opportunities. Some of my first writing sessions here were with producers who were working on tv and film placements.

5. Don’t laugh – It’s actually affordable. You may have to dig a bit, but affordable living is possible. And even better with a roommate. If you’re not into conventional work, be prepared to work 2-3 freelance jobs to maintain a flexible schedule. If you really want it, it’s TOTALLY doable.

6. An extra perk is the weather! Some days I write at the beach, and other days I write on the top of a mountain. Where else can you do that?

7. And lastly, it’s very simple: If you’re thinking about doing it, JUST DO IT.

It’s so easy to overthink your next step. Believe me. I considered Nashville, New York, and Atlanta before moving to LA. While all cities are great, and have many things to offer, I believe LA was the right move for me. I’ve only been here for 7 months, and I’ve already been on tour with a R&B artist, I’ve met some great producers, engineers, and songwriters at random events, I’ve attended BMI forums, where I connected with top producers in the industry, and I occasionally run into a movie star or NBA basketball player while catching lunch; which is pretty cool.

I’ve also been able to connect with industry key players at the Grammy academy events. I’ve heard stories of people moving to LA and having success within 30 days, while others say it may take up to three years or more. Whatever your path may be, I think it’s important to stick to it, roll with the punches, and expect the best for yourself. There’s no wrong choice, except the one made in fear.

So, go for it. What do you have to lose?

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