November 11, 2019
For country musicians looking to make it big in the country music business, Nashville Tennessee is the place to be. Home to some of the country’s largest country music record labels, the most prestigious producers and the most famous performers, the city of Nashville is without a doubt the Country Music capital.
But what is it like trying to make it as a musician in the Country Music capital? What type of obstacles do aspiring country music artists face when they are up-and-coming in the country music industry? What should you expect if you are trying to pursue a career as a country musician in Nashville? Let’s find out!
Many young hopefuls have come to Nashville to seek fame and fortune, only to fail and return home with a heart full of broken dreams. Nashville is full of beautiful voices, but it takes more than that to succeed here. So what makes the difference between a successful career and an unfortunate failure to succeed?
For those looking to make it in the country music industry, hubris is the most dangerous enemy one can grapple with. Many aspiring musicians assume a happy-go-lucky view of themselves, thinking that they’ve got what it takes to simply show up in Nashville and get hired on the spot, based solely on their singing ability.
Unfortunately, things will almost certainly never be like this for aspiring musicians. Nashville is full of natural talent; competition is tough and nothing ever comes easy. You’ll have to work for everything, and you’ll have to constantly work to improve yourself. Chances are, your competition will be as talented as you, and other factors such as financial advantages will give them a leg up on you if you take things for granted and fail to adapt
So how can you gain an advantage and make an impression on Nashville? Well, there are a number of things you can do. Make sure you’re always improving. Learn a new instrument, learn new techniques with the instruments you know, take singing lessons and learn how to write songs.
Even if you are highly skilled and truly talented, you’ll still need to fight tooth and nail to make it to the top. You’ll have to play in bars for drunk college students who won’t give you more than a few seconds of their attention. You’ll get heckled when you make mistakes, or sometimes for no reason at all. Record labels will turn you down and producers will tell you you aren’t going to make it. If you’re going to make it, you’re going to need thick skin and self reliance in spades.
Unless you have an unlimited supply of money to rely on, you’re going to have to make sacrifices in your personal life. Studio time is expensive, and Nashville is not a cheap city to live in. You’ll have to save money in every way you can, and work tirelessly to support yourself. If you’re going to make it as a musician in the country music capital, you’re going to have to keep a couple of things in mind.
First of all, you’ll have to find a job. At some point in the future, you may be able to make a living singing, but it’s not very likely you’ll be able to do that right off the bat. So, you’re going to need to find something that pays the bills, and puts food on the table and keeps a roof over your head.
Speaking of roofs over heads, you’re also going to have to find a place to live. Unless your preferred accommodation is a wooden park bench or the underside of an overpass, this will probably be some kind of rental property. If you were lucky enough to get a good job that pays well, you might be inclined to rent a nice apartment all your own, because you can afford it.
This is a bad idea! Renting an expensive apartment will eat up your paycheck and leave you vulnerable if you lose your job or have an emergency that leaves you lacking funds. If you’re serious about making it in Nashville, rent the cheapest apartment you can find. It might not be fancy or comfortable, but it will let you save money that you can then spend on studio time, better instruments, singing lessons and more. If you want to get a good deal on an apartment or sublet, you’ll need to look for professional help: finding a real estate agent in Nashville is a great first step.
The same thing goes for all living expenses; the less you spend on the banal necessities, the more you’ll have to invest in your career as a country musician. Cook at home instead of eating out. It’s healthier, and it’ll save money. Do you smoke? Quit! No matter how much you think you look like Waylon Jennings with your cigarette snugly fitted in the neck of your guitar, the habit will burn a hole in your wallet as well as your instrument.
If you’re looking to start a career in country music, know that the journey from nobody to somebody is a hard one, with a lot of hard knocks and rough blows. The world will tell you that you’re not good enough and that you don’t have what it takes.
In the end, whether or not you prove them wrong depends on you; your sheer grit and determination, your ability to get back up and keep fighting when life knocks you down. This is what sets the greats apart from the rest. Every country singer from Willie Nelson to Johnny Cash was told at some point that they weren’t good enough, or that they would never make it. They pressed on and proved them wrong; so can you.