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The Best Alternative Cities for the Entertainment Industry

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If you want to get involved in the entertainment industry you probably think that you need to move to New York or Los Angeles. Those cities certainly seem to be joint Meccas for singers, actors, artists—anybody who loves to entertain. While there is lots of action in these cities there is also lots of competition and living in them is incredibly expensive. So what’s a future star to do?

Live “Mecca” Adjacent

You do not have to live literally within Los Angeles, Hollywood or in Manhattan to score entertainment work. There are plenty of areas that are located close by that are cheaper to live in and close enough that traveling in for auditions and gigs isn’t that much of a hassle. For example, a potential musician could live in Orange County and make a real go of it. Housing is cheaper, it’s easier to find affordable piano lessons around San Diego (or guitar lessons or voice lessons) and the commute to LA is only a couple of hours. If New York is the goal, think about living in one of the outer boroughs or in one of the smaller towns outside of the city. The train system in the Northeast is top notch so commuting in for auditions or even lessons isn’t a day breaker.

Go Where the Industry is Going

The entertainment industry is no longer limited to LA and New York. More and more things are happening in Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco all the time. One of the most prominent “up and coming” entertainment cities, believe it or not, is Portland, Oregon. Grimm films there. Leverage filmed there. The show Portlandia is a cultural phenomenon. Dozens of movies are filmed around the city. It’s also an incredibly affordable place to live—especially for someone who might be using gigging as a method of supporting herself. Not to mention the independent music scene there has always been a breeding ground for future stars.

Don’t Forget the Internet

These days the “indie” scene is hotter than it has ever been. It isn’t just plausible that you could make a wonderful living by doing your own thing independently, it’s common. The Internet has made it that way. YouTube, Etsy, BandCamp, Lulu, Audible, Amazon—all of these services have made it possible to put your work, whether it’s written, crafted, sang or acted in front of a worldwide audience. Skeptical? Just ask Jonathan Coulton, Amanda Palmer, John Scalzi, Jen Lancaster, Ree Drummond, Justin Beiber or any number of others whether or not utilizing the Internet has worked out for them.

Making a career in the entertainment industry does not automatically require you to live in New York or Los Angeles. These days it’s possible to live anywhere and make a go of it!

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