If you’re a musician, moving to a new city is tough.
Assuming you want to actually land some gigs in your new city, you’ll need to get to know the musicians around there.
While it can take years to really break into the scene, you can give yourself a huge head start by planning the move properly and doing some legwork ahead of time.
A few months ago a horn player emailed me about moving to Philly and did everything exactly right.
In fact, within a few days of being in Philadelphia, he landed his first gig as a result of his efforts.
In this post, I’m going to show you the email and break down what exactly made his approach successful.
First, here’s the email:
OK, so I know this doesn’t seem like much.
It’s just an email, right?
But this is a hugely different approach than what most people do where they show up to a new area and just hope it eventually works out.
Let’s break down this guy’s approach and why it led to a gig within just a few days of moving to a new city.
Be Proactive and Reach Out Early
This seems obvious, but it’s not.
If you’ve read my books or any other writing I’ve done over the past few years, you’re probably tired of reading “be proactive”.
Despite the fact that this seems like a given, very few people are actively planning and thinking ahead.
Look at the timestamp on this email.
It showed up in my inbox six weeks before he was planning to move and I know that I’m not the only person that he reached out to.
By reaching out early, you set yourself up for success because you will not be showing up to your new city starting from nothing.
Start early and be proactive.
If Possible, Visit Before You Move. If You Can’t Visit, Meet People Anyway.
This might not be an option for everyone, but if you have the chance visit before you move, do it.
If you’re being proactive about emailing people, why not ask to meet up when you’re in the city?
Not everyone will be able or willing to meet and that’s totally fine.
But the people you do meet will be able to share a ton of invaluable information with you over a coffee or beer.
Even if you can’t meet them in-person, ask about hopping on a Skype call.
There’s no reason you can’t meet these people in advance and start the process of getting to know them better.
When this horn player and I met up, I probably rattled off 20 different organizations, orchestra, and people he could potentially reach out.
It’s unlikely someone will go that in depth via email, so do your best to actually meet them when you can.
Leverage Mutual Connections
Cold emails will always be more effective if you can establish contact through a mutual connection.
This is a concept in the world of psychology known as social proof.
By leveraging a mutual connection, I was way more likely to respond since we have the same friend.
If you’re not sure your mutual connections might be, start by thinking about the following:
- Current or former teachers
- Other freelancers you know
- Professors where you went to school
It doesn’t have to be anyone’s best friend, it just has to be someone that the other person will recognize and trust.
Demonstrate Competency in Introductions
Piggybacking on the use of social proof above, it’s important to demonstrate to your future colleagues.
In the example above, you’ll notice that this guy referenced ensembles and teachers that he has played with in addition to his resume.
This lets me know immediately of his level of experience.
He’s got a pretty impressive background so I know he’s an advanced player.
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or have a ton of experience, you just need to signal to your future peers that you’re a competent player.
Tying It All Together
When moving to a new city, the amount of preparation you do is going to be the difference between going in completely blind and showing up with an existing network of new colleagues that will help you get started in the local freelancing scene.
By being proactive and following the steps outlined in this post, you are guaranteeing yourself better results in the first few months of being in your new city.
Heck, maybe you’ll land a gig in your first week like this guy did.
The only thing standing between you and a successful move to a new city is some legwork up front, so if/when that time comes for you, do yourself a favor and follow the example set here.