Music

Houston is one of the worst U.S. cities for music lovers, according to one study

Megan Thee Stallion in Concert for Red Bull at White Oak Music Hall.

Photo: Jamaal Ellis/Contributor

If you love music, Houston is one of the worst cities in America for it.

That’s according to research from Clever, a real estate data company who analyzed data from the US Census, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bureau of Labor Statistics and more. They took into account things such as Google Trends scores, pre-COVID concert ticket prices, working musicians, number of venues and music festivals

The results? Among the overall worst music cities, Houston is third, just behind Miami and Las Vegas. Houston comes in at the top of worst cities for live music, followed by Dallas and Detroit.

“It’s clear that folks living in these 10 cities aren’t as interested in music experiences as the residents of other metros,” according to the article.

Houston has an average of one music festival within a 100-mile radius and only 1.1 small concert venues per capita. There are 14 career musicians per 1,000 residents, who make an average hourly income of $43.60.

Facts are facts. But are they?

I’m a Houston native and have covered the local music scene for a long time. I know there are challenges to both enjoying music and being a musician in the city. Working musicians often struggle for local crowds and support. Our festival track record isn’t great, though the We Are One Music + Arts Festival was just announced for May. Too many national touring acts still skip Houston.

But I also know how incredible Houston’s music scene can be. I’ve been to spectacular shows in tiny venues. I’ve listened to albums from Houston acts that are better than anything from major labels. I’ve seen performers onstage whose talent boggles my mind.

Houston has so many music champions, from Kam Franklin to Mark Austin to Space Kiddettes. There is absolutely nothing, nowhere like Houston’s rap scene. And a growing community of LGBTQ+ artists are creating exciting, adventurous music.

So maybe the numbers say we aren’t Austin or Nashville. I’ll take Houston and its challenges over them any day.




  • Joey Guerra

    Joey Guerra is the music critic for the Houston Chronicle. He also covers various aspects of pop culture. He has reviewed hundreds of concerts and interviewed hundreds of celebrities, from Justin Bieber to Dolly Parton to Beyonce. He’s appeared as a regular correspondent on Fox26 and was head judge and director of the Pride Superstar singing competition for a decade. He has been named journalist of the year multiple times by both OutSmart Magazine and the FACE Awards. He also covers various aspects of pop culture, including the local drag scene and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

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