Music Distribution and putting your music online has become extremely important for indie musicians, but networking and making personal connections in the industry is still vital. The city you live in will be the basis of this network, so we created a list of seven indie-friendly cities that are supportive of aspiring musicians.
Slate Magazine called Portland America’s “Indie Rock Mecca”. Leisure and Travel Magazine called it an “American Eden” and a “refuge for the…indie dream”. Portland’s music industry makes almost 160 million dollars annually and employs thousands, with estimates showing these numbers are only growing. A benefit for aspiring musicians, the cost of living is relatively cheap in Portland. In addition, there are huge opportunities for young bands as there are hundreds of music venues to play. The Decemberists and Ages and Ages hail from Portland.
Austin is known as the live music capital of the world, and adopted this slogan after determining it has more music venues per capita than any other city in the US. It has a bustling entertainment district, bars and clubs, and attracts huge acts from all across the nation. Some of the largest music festivals in the world reside in Austin, such as the Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. Austin is also home to indie bands Iron and Wine and Spoon.
Nashville has always had a huge music scene, but it tends to be saturated with record labels and competition. However, the area of East Nashville has become an epicenter of indie activity. Thousands of musicians live in this small corner of the city, allowing collaborations to happen constantly. Certain aspects make East Nashville the perfect launching pad for music distribution; the 10% decrease in cost of living in comparison the rest of the US, and the easy accessibility due to the 8 bordering states and 5 interstates throughout Tennessee.
The Twin Cities
The metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of indie music, but the scene is growing and becoming very vibrant. Minneapolis has a large underground rap scene made up of the indie hip hop label Rhymesayers, community radio stations, and amazing venues that include First Avenue and the Soundset rap music festival. There are more than ten music festivals in The Twin Cities area every year that attract a wide variety of artists. It was also ranked one of Forbes Magazine’s top ten best cities to live for young adults.
This small, Southern college town is a legendary place – it is home to the bands R.E.M, the B-52’s, and Neutral Milk Hotel, as well as the 40 Watt Club, one of the most famous indie venues on the east coast. Music festivals such as Athfest, Athens Popfest, and Alanfest are all held here. The indie scene remains as lively as ever, and huge acts pass through Athens all the time.
Following its investment into its music scene, Omaha has blossomed into a great city for indie musicians. Record companies such a Saddle Creek Records and Slowdown, a music venue, have led the way in making Omaha a big destination in the music industry. It also has multiple music festivals and a huge university full of possible fans. Omaha offers a tight-knit community, which can lead to an opportunity to play with other indie musicians and possibly work with a successful record label like Saddle Creek.
NOLA is famous for music, and always has been. While it tends to breed jazz and country music, New Orleans is welcoming to any type of indie artist. The scene is highly accessible because music is such a huge part of the culture. There is also a large population of college students at Tulane and Loyola, the latter having one of the best music colleges in the nation. The competition is not as cutthroat as a city like LA or NYC, yet there are hundreds of music venues and opportunities for artists.
You don’t have to live in a huge, expensive city to be a successful musician, and towns all over America offer amazing opportunities for aspiring musicians of all kinds. Social media and online music distribution is an important part of being an artist today, but nothing beats a person-to-person connection. For more exciting indie music news and advice for musicians, follow SongCast’s blog!