Top 5 Live Music Cities Worldwide
Updated: Sep 7
While most cities will have a music scene of their own, there are only a select few where music seems to be ingrained into its very DNA. These are the kinds of cities where you hear music in every restaurant and on every street; where big names in the business first cut their musical teeth; and where you’ll find a good gig any night of the week.
Below are the top 5 music cities in the world that have been chosen for both their eclectic mix of venues as well as their dedication to contemporary and traditional sounds.
Often thought of as the birthplace of many a music scene, London presents an eclectic mix of expensive clubs, traditional pubs and super-sized arenas that have all played host to some of the most recognized music acts in the world.
Synonymous with the Stones, the Beatles, the Clash and the Kinks, it’s easy to see how London has become a stomping ground for every new band looking to make it in the music business and with an amazing array of music venues there’s always a gig or a concert going on pretty much 24/7.
Any lover of music will need to spend time trawling through London’s live music scene, where you’ll find everything from small neighborhood bands playing at corner pubs and clubs to huge international acts taking over big stadiums like the 02 Arena. You’ll want to plan a city crawl to hit all the most musical districts, which span from the centrally located Soho to southside’s Brixton and the eastern hotspot of Shoreditch. See what bands are playing at smaller venues like Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, the Camden Roundhouse and Wilton’s Music Hall.
Fondly known as ‘Music City’ it’s easy to see why Nashville is up there in the top 10 and if you’re looking for further confirmation then checking out the likes of: 12th & Porter, 3rd & Lindsley, Music City Smokehouse and Drifters, will no doubt seal the deal. Aside from attending a gig, Nashville is also well-known for its abundance of exhibitions with the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum providing more than a glimpse of why this is one of the world’s foremost cities when it comes to music.
If you’re into country music – hey, no judgement here – there’s nowhere better than Nashville. Watch a live broadcast of the famous eponymous radio show at the Grand Ole Opry, or catch big acts at the equally legendary Ryman Auditorium, where everyone from Chris Stapleton to the Foo Fighters has played. Head for one of the popular cafes and bars to catch up-and-comers and surprise performances from big-name artists at legendary hotspots like the Bluebird Café, Winners Bar & Grill and Douglas Corner Café. If that weren’t enough, you can also check out the Country Music Hall of Fame.
You name it and New York’s got it going on and from jazz cafes and blues bars to underground clubs and new wave joints, there’s never a dull day in the city that never sleeps.
Often considered as providing the roots for disco, house and hip hop you won’t be surprised to discover a thriving dance scene and clubs such as: Chaos, Cream and Cheeta all offer plenty of excuses to make some shapes and have yourself a good time.
NYC also has a huge salsa and Latin American following and heading to Washington Heights will introduce you to a super sensuous succession of dance halls and late-night clubs.
From the folk and hippy tunes emanating from Greenwich Village, post-punk bands such as Interpol to the garage rock sounds of the Strokes, the Walkmen and the Yeah Yeahs, this is an eclectic and buzzing music center that shows no sign of stopping in its quest for worldwide acclaim and authority.
This is the self-proclaimed “Live Music Capital of the World,” and for good reason. Each night, hundreds of venues offer up live renditions of everything from funk and jazz to country, blues, and punk. Historic 6th Street is the city’s entertainment center, and you’re sure to find a venue at which to catch some tunes. Be sure to check out The Continental Club Gallery and the Victory Grill, where greats like Etta James and B.B. King have played. If that don’t get you no aural satisfaction, Austin also holds a host of major music festivals like South By Southwest and Austin City Limits.
Austin is also well-known for its outdoor festivals where events and fringe shows take place all over the city and include comedy, food, and a whole load of weirdness to ensure an alternative audience arrives droves.
Berlin may be best known for the behemoth clubs that are temples to electronica, but the city’s seeing a resurgence of its penchant for live music, which includes jazz, punk, and indie. After all, Berlin was once a recording destination for artists like David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Head for districts like Kreuzberg and Mitte and venues like SO36 and Lido and you’ll soon see why Berlin’s music scene is so much more than its big techno clubs.