Guest Blog: ‘Surviving As A Musician in the SF Bay Area’ by Lyra Star

in SF Local Bands by

Editor’s Note: Lyra Star is a solo artist living right here in the Bay Area that creates music by combining her pure, ethereal vocals with some very profound lyricism. On March 2, she plans to release her debut album, entitled ‘A Thousand Dreams,’ and in anticipation of her release, she was kind enough to guest blog for us and let our viewers in on what it’s like to survive as a musician in the Bay Area.

Take it away Lyra…

Having lived in the Bay Area for the last 8 years, I can say without a doubt what a blessing it is.

Prior to moving here, music was something that I did on the side (kind of like my third job, but not my first priority). However, what I’ve learned from living here is that making music is one thing, but getting it out there is a full-time job in itself.  There are so many aspects that go into “making it” as an artist… this goes beyond just playing open mic nights.  It means putting yourself out there on social media, having a solid website, listening to (and interacting with) other musicians, go to live shows, and making connections.

This last year, I realized that playing music is what makes me truly happy, and what I really want to do is find a way that I can put more of my time and energy into that. So, despite all the obstacles, all the trials and tribulations of “making it”, I’m committed to it. Seeing other artists in the Bay Area juggle their music careers while making a living in such an expensive city, is truly awe-inspiring. It seems that most people I’ve talked to either play with a ton of bands in addition to doing their own project, or they have to work multiple jobs on the side in order to make it monetarily.  Some people also work from home or work for themselves, which means their schedule is more flexible. I don’t know how this next year is going to unfold for me, but I do know that I’m giving it my all, and trying to find any and all ways to earn an income based on a more flexible schedule that allows me to focus more fully on my music.

Lyra Star

As a Bay Area transplant, I struggle with the typical artist woes: I love California, but figuring out how to survive here while making music my primary focus is a constant struggle. The cost of living is incredibly expensive, and I barely make it by on my current salary. That being said, I definitely feel grateful for the many connections that I have made while here. There’s so much opportunity for connection and opportunity, that it’s not difficult to see why artists flock here.

Even though it is hard to get by here financially as an artist, I also know that it is possible, and the Bay Area has one of the strongest communities of creative individuals that I’ve come across. That being said, people are constantly busy with not much downtime, and I think that’s the nature of getting to live in such a beautiful, amazing part of the country.  People committed to staying here and pursuing their music careers are driven, focused, and constantly putting time and energy into what they are doing so that they can have success. 

I have a lot more to learn, especially when it comes to the music business itself, and it is a little daunting and scary to think about shifting my focus, yet I choose to remain positive because I know so many people that are making music their top priority and managing to live here.  It can often mean making sacrifices for sure (such as living with roommates so the rent is cheaper), but if the strong desire is there, success will come from doing something that brings true happiness.

Photos by Jared Swanson



An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for and, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.