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Boston's live music scene looks much different than it used to. Bars with stages and smaller clubs hosting local talent used to play side by side with larger venues bringing in national touring acts. But these days, those giant concert venues are big business, and the smaller clubs are on the way out.
When concerts (and everything else) shut down in 2020, two enormous Boston venues — MGM Music Hall and Roadrunner — were already in the works, and opened just in time last year to capitalize on a live music revival post-pandemic. Big Night Live, which opened in 2019, likewise has benefited from that resurgence.
Meanwhile, smaller locally owned clubs like ONCE and Thunder Road in Somerville, and the Great Scott in Allston, all shut down before or during the pandemic.
Live Nation, the owner of some of Boston's biggest venues, including Leader Bank Pavilion, the House of Blues and MGM Music Hall Fenway, took in $5.6 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2023, up 27%.
By the numbers, Boston is one of the top live music cities in the world, according to an analysis by ticket seller SeatPick. We tied in eighth place with Denver overall. London got the top spot, with Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Nashville in the top five. The Boston area has 72 music venues, more than Denver and Seattle, and had 1,080 concerts planned in 2023 and 2024, according to data from Songkick.
Austin, a town known for live music, has 99 venues and 856 shows planned.
What we're watching: If you look beyond Boston's city limits you'll find more small venues giving music lovers some options. Up to 240 people can squeeze into Deep Cuts in Medford, a new brewery with a steady calendar of live music. Faces Brewing Co., also in Malden, has shows all week. The Jungle in Union Square, Somerville opened in 2019 and survived. And Grace by Nia in the Seaport has live jazz, soul and R&B most nights.
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