Do all roads lead to Divatown? Perhaps not, if those dusty back roads do not end at the nearest opera house. It is true that a singing career could lead to exotic, distant locales. It is not as sure that a singing career can happen anywhere. Is that lonesome stop light in town starting to hold you back more than it should? Maybe it’s your ZIP code that is to blame. Your day four challenge is to determine whether your ZIP code is helping or hurting your career.
There are places all over the United States that simply do not have an opera or high art culture. Can you believe it? In most cases I quote Mr. Arthur Ashe and suggest, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Unfortunately, this just may not be possible in the aforementioned places. Before you go banging your pretty heads against a brick wall, ascertain whether you are in a no-opera-reception area. Follow up by determining how close you are geographically to an opera-supported area. If you are close to a population that supports high culture, you may not need to make any drastic moves immediately. However, be ready to spend on gas money.
If you strongly feel that you are amid a population that wants to support classical music but finding gigs is like pulling teeth, what do you do then? Since you followed last year’s 29 Days to Diva tips (particularly Day 7, Day 11, and Day 18) you will be able to discover the reasons. Are the companies in your area always hiring the same performers season after season? Are there less gigs available because companies are scaling back on productions or folding altogether? Have you identified ways to create your own performance opportunities? Make an assessment of which performances are being supported by the community and what you can do better to earn roles in those performances. If you are a young performer, remember that you may need to make yourself known to the arts community by taking supporting roles before just jumping in to the lead – but don’t let that stop you from always trying to earn the lead. The main options, after identifying the reasons for your lack of gigs, are to become more involved in your arts community, make more performance opportunities if there aren’t many, or move to a bigger city that is likelier to support your musical niche.
Perhaps you have been spending all your hard-earned money on travel costs getting to and from your gigs. Is that enough to make you move to the location in which most of your gigs take place? Look over your budget and find out if your spending on gas could be better spent on rent/mortgage in that city. Are you thinking of making the move to New York City? Consider what you could save by not having a car and using public transportation to get around. Does the difference inspire you to give it a go? Go for it! (Is this where the kids say “YOLO” or something like that?) Know thyself, though, when it comes to scaling-up in regards to moving to the Big Apple. Just because New York City is a mecca of performance opportunities does not mean that your moving there will magically open every door. You must decide if you are a jump-in-the-deep-end-first person or not.
Similarly, you may find that your ZIP code is providing you with plenty of performance opportunities – but only on a certain level. If you have been part of the performance community in your area for quite a while, the gate-keepers may have already mentally categorized your instrument or capabilities. Moving could help you by offering a clean slate. Do not be fooled into thinking that just because you move you will have people falling all over themselves to cast you. You take your voice and your abilities wherever you go. Without taking care of the number one priority, changing your ZIP code will not take care of it for you.
To summarize: your current location may not be an operatic utopia but you must decided when, where, and why you want to move. Be honest with yourself about the arts community around you and your involvement. Questions to ponder during this challenge: does my community support opera; why do I not have as many gigs as I would like; would it be more economical to live in a bigger city rather than always traveling there; will moving help me bust out of a performance opportunity plateau? Place, as a concept, is very important to us as humans. Your location is your home base, your headquarters, and it should inspire you to become a better musician and feed the souls of your audience. Find your place.
Have you found your ideal singing location? Have any tips to offer your fellow divas on transitioning between cities? Have you been surprised by the arts communities in your hometown? Please share with me in the comments below.