What living in the UK taught me about how different people approach creative work. A comparison of being a musician in England and Austria.
by Dave Marian, MA
Living the best part of my adult life so far in Vienna, I got quite accustomed to its musical landscape. The clubs scene like Flex, U4 and Arena became for years like a second home to me. Moving to Brighton I was confronted with a whole new world. When it comes to life as a musician or artist there are plenty of differences.
English people are open to new and exciting ideas compared to the classic Austrian skepticism. The Austrian is a conservative, traditional being. “Wos da Bauer ned kennt, frissta ned.” (transl.: “The farmer doesn’t eat what he doesn’t know.”) is a common saying that describes the Austrian attitude very well. If you want to do well, get a secure job. That has a direct impact on life as a creative, which is in many ways dependent on being able to implement new, innovative ideas. If you want to do something out of the ordinary the British is exited about it while the Austrian raises his eyebrow skeptically.
If you want to spread the word about your band, you have to play concerts. What better way to show what you are capable of? In Austria finding gigs can get a bit complicated. Band contests and some local town fairs are often the only place for new bands to play. Britain is slightly different. As homes tend to be smaller, British don’t invite guests to their house as often. British go to pubs. In the beginning it might seem strange to see so many people go for a drink at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Until you realize that the pub is more of a replacement for a living room. It is about socializing. This means you can find a pub at about every street corner in your typical British town. Other than in the Austrian coffee house those places are all possible gig locations for bands. There are a few bars and cafés in Vienna with the occasional live music performance but the density of those is way higher in the UK.
British people and institutions are more open to use new technologies. Before I came to England I never used the passbook app on my phone, now I use it all the time. Generally there is a lot of infrastructure set up to help artists in their endeavors. Aside from the typical ads on sites there are actually more frequented websites like starnow or music-network-pro that allow musicians to look for likeminded fellows. Networking itself has not become obsolete but it got way easier.
The thing about money
One area where Austria scores big points over the UK is living quality. Living in Great Britain is expensive. You pay more for food and housing, and you get less quality. The flats are smaller, the streets are dirtier and the bread is dryer. And don’t get me started on the coffee. If you are a musician who also needs a rehearsal room expenses sum up quickly.
Most of what I listed here comes from personal experience and there are always exceptions to the rule. Generally speaking the points for living in the UK are the superior infrastructures for creative work and networking. The point for Austria is the better overall living quality. Of course that does not mean that you cannot get some great work done if you are living in Vienna, but it means that you might have to invest more time and effort into preparations. Just stay focused and motivated!
Dave Marian (03/12/1988) graduated from SAE Vienna in Audio Production and got his MA in Creative Media Practice at University of Sussex, Brighton. He is working freelance as sound designer and composer for film and games and is currently living in Brighton/UK.