Top 10 Music Cities Other Than Nashville


While the streets of Nashville are booming with music of every genre, there are several other cities that have a rapidly growing music scene. Some of them may even surprise you. In compiling this list of the nations top “Music Cities”, we looked at the following criteria: number of music venues, events and festivals related to music, diversity of genres, and successful music groups and artists who call these cities home. We want to show you some of the most unique “music cities” other than Nashville, New York City, or Los Angeles.

Check out the list to see if your city made it!

1) Austin, TX
“Live Music Capital of the World”

Austin is quickly becoming the place to be in order to prove yourself in the music world. If you can impress a crowd in Austin, you can impress a crowd anywhere. With live music echoing from several neighborhoods, this city is quickly growing to compete with Nashville for the Music City title.

# of Music Venues: 250+
The Locals Like: Sahara Lounge, Saxon Pub, Brass House, The Nook Amphitheater
Notable Events and Festivals: Austin City Limits and SXSW
Most Popular Genres: Country, Rock
Notable Artists With Ties To Austin: Patty Griffin, Nelly, Willie Nelson, Robert Plant, Stevie Ray Vaughan

2) Raleigh, NC
“Diverse and Vibrant”

Talent from every genre is constantly arising in Raleigh. Here you can find indie rock bands wailing in local bars, huge country names rocking sold out amphitheater shows, and singer/songwriters serenading coffee shop crowds. Locals also love a unique genre here called “beach music” that is unlike any other. This city has a love for music that is continuously growing.

# of Music Venues: 100+
The Locals Like: Red Hat Amphitheater, Deep South the Bar, The Pour House, King’s
Notable Events and Festivals: Hopscotch Music Festival, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass, Oak City 7
Most Popular Genres: Country, Indie Rock, Beach Music
Notable Artists With Ties To Raleigh: Ryan Adams, Scotty McCreery, Parmalee, J. Cole

3) Chicago, IL
“Historical and Legendary”

With a population of 2.7 million people, it is not hard to believe that Chicago is home to many types of music. Historically, jazz and blues have made up much of this midwestern music scene, but hip-hop has taken a huge rise within the last few years.

# of Music Venues: 225+
The Locals Like: Lincoln Hall, The Hideout, Double Door
Notable Events and Festivals: Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival
Most Popular Genres: Blues, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Rock
Notable Artists With Ties To Chicago: Jennifer Hudson, Nat King Cole, Fall Out Boy, Curtis Mayfield, R. Kelly


4) Athens, GA
“The Liverpool of the South”

While this town’s population is much smaller in comparison to the rest of the cities on this list, its creativity is bursting at the seams. As one of the best college towns in the nation, it’s not much of a surprise that the nightlife lives up to high expectations. This town is home to the evolution of alternative rock and great contributions to country.

# of Music Venues: 30+
The Locals Like: The Foundry, Georgia Theatre, 40 Watt Club, New Earth Music Hall
Notable Events and Festivals: Slingshot, AthFest
Most Popular Genres: Alternative Rock, Country,
Notable Artists With Ties To Athens: R.E.M., B-52s, Widespread Panic, Brantley Gilbert, Drive-By Truckers


5) Seattle, WA
“Rich In Music History”

While Seattle is most popular for the emergence of “grunge” rock, its music scene has diversified to include music of all genres. This city is a hip musicians haven.

# of Music Venues: 100+
The Locals Like: The Triple Door, Tractor Tavern, The Showbox at The Market, Columbia City Theater
Notable Events and Festivals: Sasquatch, Bumbershoot
Most Popular Genres: Rock, Grunge
Notable Artists With Ties To Seattle: Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles

6) Asheville, NC
A progressive and collaborative arts community”

From bluegrass to rock-n-roll, this mountain city is vibrant with music. Home to the nation’s longest running folk festival, Asheville has constantly been a supporter of the arts. While the music scene here is fairly smaller than the others on this list, the close knit community of musicians makes it a stand out music city.

# of Music Venues: 25+
The Locals Like: The Orange Peel, The Grey Eagle
Notable Events and Festivals: Folkmoot USA, Shindig On The Mountain, Mountain Dance and Folk Festival
Most Popular Genres: Folk, bluegrass, rock
Notable Artists With Ties To Asheville: The Avett Brothers, Gladys Knight, Caleb Johnson, Nina Simone, Warren Haynes
7) Franklin, TN
“Rooted In Americana”

Just south of Nashville is a quaint town full of character where the music scene keeps on rising. This city is a folk musician’s haven. Franklin is also the place where many of Nashville’s biggest recording artists call home.

# of Music Venues: 20+
The Locals Like: Kimbro’s Pickin’ Parlor, GRAY’s on Main, Franklin Theatre
Notable Events and Festivals: Pilgrimage Music Festival
Most Popular Genres: Folk, Americana
Notable Artists With Ties To Franklin: Paramore, Jack White, Kings of Leon

8) Portland, OR
“A renowned local music scene”

Thriving with music of all kinds, Portland is home to some of the most talented local artists out there. With a live music scene more unique than any other, it’s worth a trip if only to pay a visit to local venues.

# of Music Venues: 100+
The Locals Like: McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, Doug Fir Lounge, Revolution Hall, Edgefield
Notable Events and Festivals: Concerts on the Lawn, MusicFest NW, Portland Lights
Most Popular Genres: Indie Rock, Jazz
Notable Artists With Ties To Portland: The Decemberists, Courtney Love, Britt Daniel (Spoon)

9)  Provo, UT
“Home to Chart Toppers”

There must be something in the water in this small town in Utah. In the past few years, a few of it’s natives have been topping the charts with smash hits like “Radioactive” and “Animal”….That’s right, Imagine Dragons and Neon Trees both call this place home. Their talents were developed right there in Provo, Utah.

# of Music Venues: 15+
The Locals Like: Velour Live Music Gallery, Muse Music Cafe
Notable Events and Festivals: Summer Rooftop Concert Series
Most Popular Genres: Rock
Notable Artists With Ties To Provo: Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Julianne Hough, Lindsey Stirling

10) Richmond, VA
“Punk Rock Capital of the East Coast”

If you’re into punk rock, you should pay a visit to Richmond. With insanely talented local bands and unique live venues, you’ll be in punk rock heaven. This city is also noted for incredible jazz musicians and up and coming R&B artists.

# of Music Venues: 20+
The Locals Like: The Camel, The National,  Hippodrome Theater
Notable Events and Festivals: Richmond Jazz Festival
Most Popular Genres: Punk Rock, R&B, Jazz
Notable Artists With Ties To Richmond: D’Angelo, Randy Blythe, Trey Songz, Elliott Yamin, Jason Mraz, Pharrell Williams (Virginia Beach)


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