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First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

 7 Things You Need to Know Before You Move to NYC – Gyaan from an Indian in the Big Apple

“Gyaan:” Sanskrit word, roughly translated as “knowledge.” Used colloquially for “Street-Smarts.” 

Shilpa Ananth, Berklee Alumna ’13

  1. Be prepared to hustle –
    I don’t know too many people that can survive on just one job. At every given point we all have had to juggle our musical ambitions, rehearsals, shows, and tours, (and for international students the additional mental and physical exhaustion over applying for the artist visa) as well as working anywhere between 3-9 jobs.
  2.  Your friends are everything –
    Support them, go for their shows, make time to meet them. It’s easy to feel alone, so building a solid community of people to lean on and trust goes a long way.
  3. Go out for Jam sessions  –
    It’s the best situation to meet new people, perform a song or two, and show a pre existing audience what you can do. This allows you to not worry about the business side of performing – getting people to come out, selling tickets, promoting your show -and you can focus on being an artist. Also, you never know who is listening or watching.
  4. Manage your finances –
    Money, or the lack of it thereof, is a huge concern for every artist. So get into the mindset of saving. Get apps that help you put away money, that you can’t access easily. Save money before you move to New York, because the beginning is tough, and you may have to work for very little to nothing to build rapport and gain people’s trust. So having a little extra cushion helps drown some of the screams and tears (jk!)
  5. Competition is real –
    Remember New York is competitive and fast paced, but it’s just another city. Give it atleast between 2-3years, before you give up and try your luck elsewhere. It’s the kind of place where you might find luck very quickly, or else you may struggle for a bit and need to earn your place in the city, before you find your place. Those who come here hoping to be Beyoncé within 6 months will only find themselves singing a different tune by the end of it! This city pushes you to adapt, and be flexible, it weeds out the weak, and strengthens those that are serious. If you’re starting from ground up, with no prior connections, or anyone to mentor or open doors for you, and if you need to work and make your own money to pay bills, then the reality is you need to be patient and kind with yourself. Things will happen, miracles occur a lot, but they take time. I cannot stress this enough. It’s something I’m still learning to be okay with after 3 years of living here.
  6. Get out of New York –
    That’s the only way you can reenergize and feel happy loving, and living in this city. Experience, Explore, and Experiment, are the 3 Essential E’s I live by.
    The noise, chaos, routine, overall energy level is at an all time high, so it’s important to take a break, and breathe once in a while. If this is not an option, then have hobbies outside of music and work, that will help decompress, like yoga, meditation, rock climbing, swimming, dancing, running, reading, fight club, anything.
  7. Be open to chance –
    Curiosity, and having a hunger to learn new things, will always take you far, and gift you with skills you can only learn from real life. There are just some things you cannot learn at school, or from your parents. This is all what you make it, it’s your experience.
    Allow yourself to be lost, search for your voice, make mistakes, live with your choices and find a way to move forward.
    If you’re okay with all this, then chances are you will survive, and eventually thrive in this city as an artist. Stop worrying, and get yourself here first. The rest will happen as it should.
Shilpa Ananth, a New York based Indian singer songwriter, recently graduated from Berklee. She continues to perform with the Berklee Indian Ensemble, as well as Serbian female vocal group, ROSA, and the newly signed ensemble, Original Quartet, led by Grammy winning artist, Javier Limon, focusing on the roots and cultural influences of Flamenco music. 

Videos – Enge Nee and Stay Away
Spotify – Shilpa Ananth – Indian Soul
Instagram – shilpaananth
Twitter – @frizzball


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1 Comment

  1. Moved on my own to NYC, Very tough. Had to move with people I didn’t know, which to my luck, turn out to be great people. NYC can make or break you. You gotta be tough.

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