The Greatest Music Cities in the World Besides Toronto

Municipalities around the world that lay down support for their music

Without question, Toronto is one of the best music cities in the world. We’ve recently acquired new music initiatives like the Music Industry Advisory Council and the Music City Alliance with Austin, all working towards truly serving music in our city, letting music thrive. Since we’ve got so much going on around here — endless concerts and more summer music festivals than you can count — we thought we’d show some love to some of the other great music cities out there.

Nashville, Tenn., USA


(Photo by Celeste Lindell via Flickr)

Keeping Nashville’s music connection visible is a hugely important municipal priority still to this day: street signs in the shape of guitar picks mark the city’s concert halls, and when the city’s breakneck growth threatened to spread developers to the city’s famed Music Row, in February the planning commission responded by placing a moratorium on future requests to change property zoning for buildings on the two parallel, mile-long roads where some of the oldest recording studios in the United States are still active. This marked the first time the city has reacted to development by blocking it entirely.

Reykjavík, Iceland


(Photo by Zach Klein via Wikimedia Commons)

Reykjavík’s approach to stimulating music education starts early. When Reykjavík native Björk released her 2011 album Biophilia as an iPad app suite including an education workshop series exploring the relationship between music and science, after an initial class with 60 Reykjavík schoolchildren ages 10-12, the city education board implemented the program in all of its schools over the next three years.

Seattle, Wash., USA


(Photo by en:Kazamm via WikiMedia Commons)

The Seattle Music Commission is hard at work trying to enhance music education in classrooms and after school, and increase musician livability by creating better access to health care and more affordable housing, among other initiatives. The city’s Office of Film + Music, meanwhile offers streamlined resources like directories listing local all ages venues, record labels, recording/rehearsal studios, gear rental/supply stores, event calendars, composers, music schools and education centers, music blogs, and other music organizations in the city.

Stockholm, Sweden


(Photo by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho via Flickr)

Sweden is a well-established creative utopia, offering some of the best arts funding in the world, and – like Canada and Norway – free universal health care, so when artists are debilitated by illness or injury, they aren’t further inconvenienced by surging medical costs. Some projects allow doctors to prescribe going to the opera to help you get well, too. Stockholm is home to Elektronmusikstudion, a research organization and the Swedish national centre for electronic music and sound art. It owns six studios and a large library archive filled with books about electronic music, sound art, and related topics.

Sydney, Australia


(Photo by Diliff via WikiMedia Commons)

In 2014, the City of Sydney Council tabled 60 policies to better support live music in the city, including initiatives aimed at increasing concert venue capacities, tackling issues surrounding noise complaints, and require City-funded festivals to submit local content and artist employment data during grant acquittal processes. Read a complete list of the policies here. As a result of City collaboration with the Live Music Office of Australia, concert venues can now receive up to $5000 in grants to help with valuable acoustic auditing, and students can access rehearsal space for free.