6 US Cities with the Best Music Scene and Appeal for Music Lovers

What Are America’s Finest Music Destinations?

One of the greatest things about living in a big city consists in the opportunities it offers. Cultural activities, nightlife and fine dining are right up there. But when it comes to music, people may choose to follow their passion. And we are not only talking about aspiring artists. Music lovers want to be where good music is, where they can attend amazing live events and where music veterans come to perform and not only once in a blue moon. There are several American cities in the competition for the nation’s finest music destination.

Here are 6 US cities with the best music scene

1. Austin

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2009. Day 3

Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/ACL2009SBH.jpg
Image description: 2009 Austin City Limits music festival

Austin is known for several music festivals that have people flooding and that have given it the name of “Live Music Capital of the World”. There is the South by Southwest organized in spring, the Austin City Limits festival organized in fall and the new indie Fun Fun Fun Fest. There are areas full of cool music venues all over Austin and places where you can enjoy music in a less crowded setting than that of a festival. You have larger indoor venues like the 20-th century Paramount Theater, or small and cool venues like Mean Eyed Cat. Some Austin home names are Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughn.



Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d8/Zooey_Deschanel_of_She_%26_Him_%40_Mercy_Lounge_13.jpg/800px-Zooey_Deschanel_of_She_%26_Him_%40_Mercy_Lounge_13.jpg

Image description: Zoey Deschanel performing at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville in 2008

The “Music City USA” is known for more than just country acts. Nashville is home to a very strong rock and indie music scene. Some of its music venues have become institutions like the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry House, the Bluebird Café or the Basement. Even the Nashville Airport has been hosting live performances since 1981. Some of the artists who started out here are Dolly Parton, Tailor Swift, Paramore, Kings of Leon and Jack White.

3.New Orleans


Image source: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8305/7886867786_d88aff7f78_b.jpg
Photo credit: University of [email protected]

Image description: Entrance to the Musical Legends Park in New Orleans

We can say that music is at the very soul of New Orleans. This is the birthplace of jazz and the host of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, the biggest jazz festival in the world. Other genres that flourished here are gospel, blues and rock. Bourbon Street is the most famous area for music venues but you can enjoy it basically everywhere. There are street musicians, numerous festivals taking place anytime, as well as the local flavored jazz funerals – a procession in which loved ones accompany the deceased on the final journey with a brass band to celebrate his life with song and dance.



Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/33/Experience_Music_Project,_Science_Fiction_Museum,_Seattle_(9444449111).jpg

Image description: The Experience Music Project, on display at the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle

What is Seattle known for? It is known for having first created a scene for grunge music with bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Nirvana having originated from here. Before them, it was the home of Jimi Hendrix. Now it plays an important part in helping alternative and indie bands make their work known. Some other well known names associated to Seattle? Macklemore, Death Cab for Cutie, Fleet Foxes and the Shins. As a music lover, you have the Bumbershoot festival – a very large musical event, or small venues on Capitol Hill or Belltown.



Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/20070901_Chicago_Jazz_Festival_at_Petrillo_Music_Shell.jpg
Image description: Photo from the 2007 Chicago Jazz Festival

Although it is the birthplace of blues music, Chicago caters to the needs of different types of music lovers. So if you are in Chicago to enjoy quality blues music at its origin, you can attend the Chicago Blues Festival. But know that your options do not stop there. As far as other festivals are concerned, the Lollapalooza comes to mind, a very exciting and big event you cannot miss out on.

Bands such as Disturbed, Earth, Wind and Fire, Smashing Pumpkins and Fall Out Boy and artists such as R. Kelly, Kanye West, Jennifer Hudson and Anastacia originated from here. Some of the best venues for live music are the Green Mill and Kingston Miles.


Atlanta’s contribution to the US music scene consists in helping some of the most prominent hip-hop stars start their careers. When we say Atlanta we say Janelle Monae, T.I., Ludacris, Nelly and Jermaine Dupri to only name a few. Radio station Hot 107.9 has played an active part in helping up-and-comers get heard. There is also the A3C Hip Hop Festival that mashes together big industry names and artists who are just now getting noticed. Some of the most popular music venues are The Tabernacle and Fox Theater. The Phillips Arena is where massive music events such as Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac and Motley Crue concerts are held.

Wondering why New York and LA are not on the list although they are packed with music venues and have numerous festivals daily? Because we wanted to point out how many other US cities have a lot to offer music wise, both for aspiring artists as well as for music aficionados.

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Here are 6 US cities that have made music history and that are competing for the status of the most musical city in the nation. Find out what is each one’s contribution to the US music scene.