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Sorry, Austin: Nashville Is the Real Music Capital

We can quibble about the “live” portion of Austin’s moniker, but when it comes to the concentration of musicians, agents, and related industry jobs, there is no debating it: Nashville is the music capital of the U.S.

According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), approximately 1,800 musicians and singers, or about one out of twenty in the U.S., were employed in the Nashville metro area in 2019, ranking third nationally. More musicians and singers were employed in New York (6,700) and Los Angeles (3,500), as you might expect given the size of those markets. But the greatest concentration, relative to how many musicians and singers are employed nationally, is found in the Music City. Musicians and singers are six times more concentrated in Nashville compared to the U.S., a location quotient of 6.34, for the economists. It’s less than half that in New York and Los Angeles.

The BLS data compiled from payroll records includes full-time and part-time workers. Self-employed musicians and singers might increase the total in Nashville by thirty percent or more.

Here’s the same table for agents and business managers, although BLS does not release full data for Los Angeles, presumably the top market, for what must be a confidentiality issue (i.e. if one company accounts for too large a share of all employees in the occupation).

Complete list of occupations for Nashville is linked here. Austin is linked here.