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With Hollywood, Disneyland, Yosemite National Park, Redwoods, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge all within its borders, California is one of the most well-known American states. Fittingly, no thorough discussion about American music can neglect its presence. Read below to uncover what makes California the pillar it is in the music world.
California has more of everything
California is the number one most populated state and the third largest state in the union, behind only Alaska and Texas. This state's size and population density speaks to the massiveness of its local music scene and pervasiveness in national and international music industries.
Richard Florida, a professor, theorist, and research in the realm of American urban studies, has crunched some numbers that go to show California’s role relative to the rest of the union. Los Angeles is the city with the most musical acts, reaching nearly two hundred thousand. It exceeds the second most act-dense city of New York by around sixty thousand and third most act-dense city of Chicago by over one hundred thousand. With so many acts, listeners who want to see a specific genre can experience a full lineup of that genre at concerts; no organizer is short of performers who want a chance on stage. With over twenty-six music festivals annually and literally countless venues to perform, California ensures that listeners who want more live music every day of the week and in every genre will be pleased. You can even get Hamilton Los Angeles tickets and watch a Broadway hip hip show!
Los Angeles is filled with places connected to music
The Sunset Strip—a place known for building rock legends and supplying their drinking habits—is still a spot for music mavens today. The strip attracted rock nightclubs in the 1960s, international discos in the 1970s, and hair metal hangouts in the 1980s. The Sunset strip has evolved over the years, and today, listeners can see live shows at the places where the legends hung out. Rainbow Bar and Grill, where the likes of John Lennon, Alice Coper, and Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) dined and drank are still open for business. Amoeba Music of Hollywood is one of the largest record stores in the world, containing two floors of pop culture pieces, from DVDS to games to art to posters and more. From time to time, listeners can snag free live shows here. Countless places in California have music history and music culture bestowed upon them. Listeners can spend weeks exploring Los Angeles’ music markers and still not some close to experiencing it all.
In addition to the seminal music city of Los Angeles, California has a handful of cities experiencing a music renaissance
The live music market is in a state of continual incline. In the U.S., forty percent of adults purchased a ticket to see a live music event in the last year, an increase from 2017. This has resulted in some unexpected, smaller cities developing music communities of their own. These smaller markets are the ones growing the fastest. California has a handful of cities that are making this transition. For listeners, these renaissance music microcosms offer niche sounds and accessible performances.
Sacramento’s low rent compared to neighboring areas like San Francisco attracts local and transplant musicians. With an impressive indie arts community, free music events such as Concerts in the Park are an annual staple, and plenty of pay-to-enter venues sell out regularly.
In the Bay Area, Oakland’s urban planning efforts over the last decade have cultivated a diverse and dynamic music scene. These efforts have included remodeling venues such as the Fox Theater. Oakland’s small city vibe makes indie festivals a natural fit; the Oakland Music Festival and Eastlake Music Festival bring in global listeners.
Palm Desert is a third city navigating a period of growth. Although this place is famous for Coachella, it prides itself on being the antithesis of the Los Angeles environment. Where commercialism reigns, Palm Desert seeks to counter that with outlaw musings of rock, indie, and alternative artists. With studios like Rancho de lo Luna and a handful of nationally acclaimed bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, Palm Desert is growing.