The Best Music Cities in the U.S.


Lights at a concert. These are the best music cities in America.

These are the best music cities in America – Author Cat Badra, Photo via Anne Erickson

America churns out some great music. So, what are the best music cities in America? It’s exciting to think of the many fantastic musicians and bands that have grown up in this country and eventually taken their music around the world. From Metallica to Prince to Bob Dylan to Eminem, the United States has a wide range of musicians in every genre imaginable. Here are some of the best music cities to get on your musical radar.

The Best Music Cities in America

Atlanta, Georgia

If rap and hip-hop is your thing, then Atlanta, Georgia is a fantastic place to be. Sure, hip-hop really came out of the streets of New York, and West Coast rap was also huge in its genesis, but it didn’t take long for Atlanta, Georgia to become one of the hottest places in the country for budding rap and hip-hop talent. Some of the genre’s biggest names are still out of Atlanta. Some of the biggest names from Atlanta are Ludacris, Gucci Mane, Future and Migos. The city is also known for its fantastic R&B. I have such an appreciation for these styles of music and have Atlanta on my bucket list of places to visit and explore.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit will and always will be Motown. But, it’s even more than that. Detroit has given us great musicians in a range of genres, from soul to hip-hop to garage rock. A few of those big ones are The White Stripes, Eminem, Kid Rock, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, The Temptations, Big Sean, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin. As a life-long Michigander and longtime Detroit worker, I absolutely believe Detroit is still one of the best music cities. Besides, just look at the huge names at the recent Michigan Central concert, from Eminem to Ross.

Houston, Texas

Houston, Texas, has a little bit of everything. This city has a rich culture of R&B, blues, hip-hop, rock and more. Some of the city’s biggest stars include Beyonce, Kenny Rogers, Travis Scott, Destiny’s Child and more. I have to give Austin, Texas, a plug here, too, as it’s a major spot for country talent. In fact, many people would say Austin has a bigger music scene than Houston. But, I like to switch it up and give Houston some love.

Los Angeles, California

So many great bands have come from Los Angeles and nearby areas. Really, if you look at California as a state, some of the biggest and best bands have hailed from there. During the hair metal era, the Hollywood area gave us acts such as Motley Crue and Poison. But, it goes way beyond that, with Los Angeles also giving music fans Etta James, Cher, Megadeth, Beck, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses and more. It’s definitely one of the best music cities.

Nashville, Tennessee

Of course, Music City is on this tally. Nashville, Tennessee, is known for its country music. For many decades, in order to even have a chance in country music, you had to move to Nashville. Things have changed, thanks to the Internet, but Nashville is still an important spot for budding country talent. Other genres of music come out of Nashville, too, but the biggest names tend to be country. If you love a new country artist, chances are they moved to Nashville before you knew their name.

New York City, New York

Of course, the Big Apple has a massive music scene. It’s the biggest music scene in the country. Punk was a big part of the history of New York City’s music scene. Punk was and is also big in Washington, D.C. But, when it comes to New York City, we can thank the Big Apple for names such as The Velvet Underground, Blondie, Alicia Keys, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Sonic Youth and more.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, is an artistic town and have a very strong alternative music scene. Just look at the long list of bands and artists in the alternative genre that have come from Portland: Modest Mouse, The Shins, The Decemberists, Portugal. The Man, Sleater-Kinney and more. It’s one of the best music cities.

Seattle, Washington

I would be remiss to leave the home of grunge off this list. Some of my friends who have lived in Seattle over the years say it isn’t quite the music mecca that it once was, but that doesn’t matter. It’s still the birthplace of grunge, one of the most important popular music movements of all time. Bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Mudhoney and more came from Seattle.

Cat Badra
Posted by Cat Badra | Features, Music