Top 10 US cities for live rock music. Long-tail artists touring more than ever!

We’re big data nerds at Songkick, and ever since we launched our mondo database of past concerts over a year ago, we’ve been dying to do some analysis on all that data. Today, we have over 1.8 million concerts, and our mission is the same: have every concert and festival that ever happened or is going to happen–all in one place–so you can track your favorite bands and never miss them live. You can be confident that when you track a band on Songkick, we’ll be the first to tell you about concerts before tickets go on sale. Then, after the show, we want to give you a place to share your experience, to add your photos, videos, setlists, posters, and ticket stubs, so together we’ll build a site that really represents how awesome last night’s concert was.

We’ve been working our asses off towards that goal in the past year, but we finally took the time to see what interesting stuff our data could tell us.

Top 10 US cities for live rock music in 2010

Top 10 US rock cities

Download Top 10 rock cities graph here.

We wanted to do a top 10 list that reveals something unexpected about the best places to see a show. We analyzed rock shows per capita in 2010–where rock includes everything from emo to indie. We hope you’ll agree that the list is surprising. Austin really earns its title of live-music capital of the world. It’s also nice to see Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Nashville on the list, since our hunch was that they’re hotbeds of good live music. (If our lean start-up nerdery has taught us anything, it’s measure measure measure and validate assumptions… Pity the fool who doesn’t use metrics.) The average rock show ticket prices are surprising too. Who knew it was so expensive to see a rock concert in Las Vegas?

Long-tail artists are touring more than ever before

Long-tail artists touring more

Download long-tail artists graph here.

This is the graph we love the most!! We were inspired by this economics study[1] by a group of Harvard and Stanford academics (Hi Julie and Chris!) that examines the relationship between file-sharing and live music, concluding that file-sharing “increases live performance revenues for small artists, perhaps through increased awareness. The impact on live performance revenues for large, well-known artists is negligible.” The minute we read the study it felt right to us. We dug into this more by dividing our artists into quartiles based on popularity and examined their US tour dates over the last four years. The fourth quartile (least popular bands, long-tail acts) has had the fastest growth in touring over the last 4 years, while the first quartile (most popular bands) has had about the same number of concerts over the last 4 years.

The great power of digital distribution is that it’s much easier to discover and listen to new bands. Back when we had to hunt down physical albums in stores, our rate of new artist discovery was much, much lower. That means a new band can build a widespread following much more efficiently than back-in-the-day, and can therefore do a world tour a lot earlier in their career, whereas huge, popular acts like U2 and Rolling Stones are already big as ever, and won’t benefit from this additional digital distribution. (I mean… Die Antwoord anyone? When has a South African artist skyrocketed to stardom through the Interweb like that?)

We hope this opens up a discussion about how live music is contributing to artists’ revenues and whether bands can sustainably make a living by going on the road. What we’re happy about as fans is that our chances of seeing The Antlers (a team Songkick favorite) is much higher now than four years ago.

This won’t be the last from us! If you have any ideas about what analysis you’d like to see next or want to do some number crunching of your own, please get in touch.

Thanks a billion to Michael and Gideon for making this analysis happen.

[1] Mortimer, Julie Holland, Chris Nosko, and Alan Sorenson, “Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances.” NBER Working Paper No. 16507. October 2010.

Copying & pasting our press release below because it explains our analysis in more detail.

Austin headlines with surprising performances by Madison, Portland and Las Vegas

SAN FRANCISCO – November 18, 2010 – Austin, Texas, the self-proclaimed live-music capital of the world, topped a new list of top cities in the U.S. for seeing live rock music, according to a study conducted by Songkick ( The top ranking is based on the number of live rock shows per capita.

Songkick is the live music and technology company that connects music fans with their favorite artists on tour, so fans never have to miss another show. The new study ranking Austin as a top rock city is based on Songkick’s analysis of artist, concert, festival and venue information from hundreds of sources.

Songkick data shows Austin has more rock concerts than any other city in the U.S. per capita, and the average cost per rock ticket there is $23.30. Madison is the second-ranked music city for rock, at an average rock ticket cost of $13.05. Both cities are college towns that support University of Texas at Austin and University of Wisconsin–Madison. Portland steals the show as the cheapest place to rock with an average ticket price of just $10.33. Glitzy Las Vegas ranks as the most expensive place to see a rock show with an average ticket price of $62.76.

The ten most rocking cities in the U.S. by number of live rock shows per capita include:

• Austin, Texas – 100 Rock Score; average ticket price of $23.30

• Madison, Wisconsin – 78 Rock Score; average ticket price of $13.05

• New Orleans, Louisiana – 57 Rock Score; average ticket price of $16.89

• Las Vegas, Nevada – 51 Rock Score; average ticket price of $62.76

• Denver, Colorado – 44 Rock Score; average ticket price of $33.24

• Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 38 Rock Score; average ticket price of $17.66

• The Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis), Minnesota – 36 Rock Score; average ticket price of $11.36

• Seattle, Washington – 35 Rock Score; average ticket price of $11.75

• Portland, Oregon – 35 Rock Score; average ticket price of $10.33

• Nashville, Tennessee – 34 Rock Score; average ticket price of $20.13

The full list and charts of Top 10 cities in the U.S. for rock music can be found here. (URL:

To compute the Rock Score, Songkick analyzed its database of more than 1.8 million concerts for rock artists’ 2010 tour dates, where rock includes alternative, indie, punk, classic rock, metal, emo, and rock. Songkick analyzed which cities have the most rock concerts per capita, giving the top city, Austin, a score of 100. All other cities are then ranked against this score—Madison has 78% as many rock concerts per capita as Austin, New Orleans 57%, and so on.

The study also analyzed concert data from 2007-2010 for major touring acts like Ben Harper, Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden and also for the long tail of smaller acts that make their living and build a following on the road. The analysis found that the long tail of artists has had the fastest increase in tour dates per year over the past four years, while the most popular acts have had a relatively constant number of tour dates per year. Top data showed:

• In 2007 the top quartile (major touring acts) had an average of 30 gigs; in 2010 they had an average of 31 gigs

• In 2007 the bottom quartile (long tail of smaller acts) had an average of 22 gigs; in 2010 they had an average of 38 gigs

Songkick divided artists into quartiles based on their popularity. Songkick used its internal popularity ranking, which is based on the number of users who are tracking the artist and want to see them live.

Songkick found that the band with the most total tour dates from 2007 to 2010: All Time Low, with 508 shows (more than one every three days).

“We believe Austin and Madison rank the highest because they have large collegiate populations with a huge appetite for live music. Austin and Madison both have hundreds of venues that can host many touring rock acts for lower prices,” said Ian Hogarth, Songkick CEO and co-founder. “We think the uptick of smaller, long-tail bands touring in more places than ever before, is a result of a growing awareness of these bands via the Internet.”

Fans can also use Songkick to share information, photos, setlists and reviews with friends across popular social networking sites.

“There’s a huge appetite for live music,” said Mike McGuire, vice president, Media Research of Gartner. “But consumers can’t satisfy that appetite if they don’t know about the shows, which is why connecting touring acts with paying fans is so important. Reliable online concert information is a must-have component for almost any music-related online service, from paid music subscription services to download stores, music news sites and social networks.”

About Songkick
Songkick, the home for live music on the web, is now the second largest live music destination after LiveNation. Recognized by Billboard Magazine as one of the Top 10 Digital Music Startups of 2010 and voted Best Innovation in BT’s 2010 Digital Music Awards, Songkick makes it easy for fans to track concerts for their favorite artists so they never miss them live. Songkick aggregates artist, concert, festival, venue, and ticket information from across 60 countries, so fans can receive personalized alerts for upcoming shows in their town and find the cheapest tickets. Fans can use Songkick to share concerts on other social networks, and add photos, setlists, and reviews after the show. Songkick’s live music information is distributed across a network of partners including YouTube, Vevo, and The Hype Machine through their API.

Songkick is backed by Index Ventures and Y Combinator, as well as angels from the technology and music industries. Please visit for more info.



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