Photo: Brandon Bales
Before the era of telecommuting turned coffee houses into modern day offices, it was practically essential for workers to migrate to cities with the most jobs in order to make it––especially in the creative world.In no other generation is this zeitgeist more apparent than in Millennials.
Social media has enabled them to collaborate with others without being anywhere near them.
But sometimes the pressure to “make it big” where no one knows your name is still there.
The small town rising star
Based in Oklahoma City, OK, Brandon Bales doesn’t have much competition as a digital photographer and videographer in the area, but the idea of trying his skills out in bigger markets has always tempted him.
He started out as a kid with a camera filming horror movies and found his niche photographing the local club scene after college.
It wasn’t long before party promoters and club owners began to take notice.
“I was freelancing and became really good friends with the people who started Robotic Wednesdays — a softer version of Webster Hall in NYC — and they just asked me to keep coming back,” Bales, 28, told us.
Photo: Brandon Bales
“It started out real small and exclusive and increased to 400 people a night,” he said. “It got out of control and was quite entertaining but then, I got burned out.”
Today, the videographer works as a lead editor at a local ABC affiliate in Oklahoma and said that although he does enjoy the benefits of having a stable job, he isn’t able to make it out to the night scene — what helped him build a name for himself in the first place — and a move to New York City is never too far out of his mind.
“I’m still undecided about it,” he said. “I really enjoy Oklahoma. It’s really chill and laid back, but it’s rough on the creative outlet.”
Bales told us that technology has allowed him to collaborate with people from bigger cities, but “it can be frustrating when everyone wants to be the director on the whole thing.”
The big city crooner
Cleveland, Ohio native Carley Tanchon, 26, had a similar itch to move and made it a reality in Boston, Nashville, Sydney and New York City.
But she was only doing it “for the purpose of music,” she said, and after two released albums, the singer moved back to her hometown.
Photo: Carley Tanchon
“The competition in the city is like no other,” she said. “You can be inspired a whole lot, but because creativity is a personal thing, it can also make you second guess yourself.”In fact, Tanchon said that most creative people living in New York City have day jobs to pay the rent and actually end up giving less time to their music.
On the other hand, when you’re at a smaller place, “you have more possibilities to make a steady living, but not necessarily to gain notoriety.”
Tanchon said the decision to live in one place or the other depends on your overall goal. If you want to get paid for your passion and actually make a decent living, then a smaller town is not a bad choice — you’ll be able to develop traction quickly, can “maintain the integrity of your intentions” and pay your bills because the cost of living is much less expensive.
But at the end of your career road, “there’s not as much opportunity,” she said.
At the beginning of 2012, Tanchon who was living in Brooklyn at the time, decided to get her yoga certification and discovered that she had passions outside of music.
She decided to return to Cleveland to get in-state tuition and is currently attending Ohio State with plans for medical school in the near future.
But once you’ve experienced New York, it’s hard to forget that unique energy surrounded by other artists.
“I miss New York, because when I moved there, I felt like I could live there forever,” Tanchon said. “But I realised that what I wanted to do mattered more to me than where I was.”
There are those like Bales and Tanchon — who have been driven away by big city dreams — and then there are those who swell with pride for only their hometowns.
The local enforcer
Oklahoman Adam “The Enforcer” Seely, 28, told us that he briefly thought about moving to the West Coast when he got out of the Navy, but that inkling of a dream didn’t last long.
Photo: Caitlin Lindsey
Seely started managing small, local bands in 2008, but really knew it was what he wanted to do when he got involved with “The Electric Primadonnas,” who are recording their fifth album. This past year, Seely started FTV Productions with his friend to cater to the music scene in Oklahoma, offering bands everything from lighting effects for their shows to booking to public relations services.
“The Oklahoma scene is different than bigger markets like L.A., N.Y. and Austin,” he said. “It’s more about quality than quantity.”
“I like expanding the scene and making the city better,” he added. “And it’s a lot better than it used to be.”
To make ends meet, Seely works at the Oklahoma Blood Institute and said he enjoys his “nine-to-five” since it allows him get to shows in the evenings.
“Social media has definitely helped that,” he says. “Bands don’t have to be depend on big recording labels to get signed anymore.”
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