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U.S. Regional and Local Music Scenes
Local New York City Music Scene

Since New York City is headquarters for a lot of the music industry, it's not surprising that a lengthy list of New York superstars fills up several chapters of music history books. Countless music revolutions have started in New York from the 60s folk movement headed by Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary to early punk from The Ramones, early new wave from Talking Heads and Blondie and the earliest hip hop from DJ Kool Herc.

Other notable acts from the area include Madonna, Grandmaster Flash, 50 Cent, Dre, Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Alicia Keys, Anthrax, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Cameo, Chic, Carole King, Cyndi Lauper, Deee-Lite, Digable Planets, Expose, Fountains of Wayne, Helmet, Incubus, Johnny Rivers, Judas Priest, Lady Gaga, Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam, Neil Diamond, Norah Jones, New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Paula Abdul, Rakim, Salt-N-Pepa, Sean Kingston, Sonic Youth, Spin Doctors, Suzanne Vega, SWV, The Chiffons, The Ronettes, Sara Bareilles, Shaggy, Shangri-Las, Twisted Sister, The Strokes, White Zombie, The Village People and Velvet Underground.

New York City Music Acts

Alex York * Altynay * Alynn * Anna Zoe * Atomic Tom * Beres Hammond * Big Time Rush * Bum B * Busy Signal * Charles Mingus * Charlotte Sometimes * Chely Wright * Chris Geith * Christen Marucci * Corpreme * Duane Stephenson * EightSeven * Farrad * Flex the Future * Galia Arad * Gordon Bahary * Gyptuan * Immortal Technique * Jackie Scott * Jana Mashonee * Jasmine V * Jihae * Kate Voegele * Kennedys * Kristen Price * Linda Marlowe * Mandii Madison * Manowar * Martin Sexton * Maura Kennedy * Medeski, Martin & Wood * Mieka Pauley * Mike Stern * Morgan Heritage * Mavado * Mindless Self Indulgence * Paola * See For Days * Serani * Shayna and the Catch * Shiny Toy Guns * Sweet Soubrette * Tamas Riley * Todd Terry * Trillogy * Wendy Starland * Zewdy *

NYC Local Music Scene History

The 2020 coronavirus pandemic led to massive shutdowns of music venues and other public places. The rememdy, at least for musicians, was to move online and offer virtual shows streamed live on Facebook and other social platforms. National Sawdust, a nonprofit Brooklyn-based venue, launched a concert series called "Digital Discovery Festival," which paid over 100 New York artists to contribue half-hour performances.

Head Over Heels was a Broadway musical running through May 16, 2018 featuring songs of the legendary west coast band The Go-Go's. Ironically, the play was not the story of the all-female band. It was based on a 16th century story called "The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia" by Sir Philip Sidney. The play contained all the major hits by the band including "We Got The Beat," "Our Lips are Sealed," "Vacation" and "Get Up and Go." Director Michael Mayer also worked on Green Day's musical American Idiot.

New York City is one of the most diverse music cities in the world. It's one of the key music development centers for a good portion of the world's most popular music of all time. It has been the key market where several artists, genres and trends have make the step to international success. Musical styles such as bebop, disco, new wave, Salsa and hip hop all became widely popular after becoming big in New York City. Due to the region's profile as a multicultural melting pot and the fact that it's the headquarters where several big media companies are based, New York City has many advantages over most other cities in terms of being the home for rising talent and opportunities in the music business.

Since the early days of the recording industry, New York City has attracted music publishers and songwriters of every genre known to music. In the early 20th century a place in Manhattan was called Tin Pan Alley, where many music publishers set up their businesses starting around 1885. These publishers hired songwriters who would get paid to write work for hire songs for other artists. Songs from Tin Pan Alley dominated the national music scene through the Great Depression in the 1930s, which was the point in time in which records began to outsell sheet music.

Tin Pan Alley lived on through at least the early 1960s but was overshadowed by the Beatles era onward, in which it became common for recording artists to write their own songs. At its peak, Tin Pan Alley created a huge music collection of songs influenced by ragtime, jazz and blues that went on to influence pop music. It was a marketplace where songs were bought and sold to be used in Broadway plays, vaudeville shows and other enetertainment ventures. Some of the biggest names from Tin Pan Alley were Geroge Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Ernest Ball, Sammy Cahn, Hoagy Carmichael, Scott Joplin, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter and Fats Waller. ASCAP was formed In 1914 to help established New York publishers and composers protect their commercial interests.

The Brill Building located on Broadway in Manhattan, not far from Tin Pan Alley, was a successful house in the 50s/60s era that employed songwriters such as Neil Sedaka to craft songs for the music industry. The Brill Building consisted of over 150 music companies, but also worked with many other music companies beyond the building. A major theme to the Brill Building was to avoid rebellious music characterized by mid-fifties rock and roll and craft songs for the broader teen market. Songs were commissioned to meet the needs of producers and label executives. Some of the biggeest names of the Brill Building were Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Neil Diamond, Sonny Bono, Phil Spector, Marvin Hamlisch, Leiber and Stoller, Andy Kim, Bobby Darin, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, The Drifters, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and Laura Nyro.

Greenwich Village became a popular hangout for fans or folk and blues music from the 1940s through the 1960s. This music scene was a melting pot of performers from other regions of the world. It became a place where progressive activists could voice their views through music. Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan helped popularize the Greenwich Village scene as a hub for protest music. The folk scene became to dissipate in Greenwich Village in the 21st century and has become more mainstream.

CBGB was one of the most famous New York night clubs of all time and a very important launching ground for punk and new wave artists in the 1970s. Some of the artists who played the club on their rise to stardom were Talking Heads, Blondie, The Ramones, The Patty Smith Group and Television. These acts became very influential in the development of modern rock and the alternative radio format. The club was founded in 1973 by Hilly Kristal. Starting in the early 80s the club was more known for punk shows, which became its core following unitl the club closed in 2006. CBGB Festival began in 2012, which presented free concerts at Times Square and Central Park.

Studio 54 was one of the most popular clubs in New York from 1977 to 1981 during the height of the disco era. It was located on West 54th Street in Manhattan and had originally been the Gallo Opera House when the building opened in 1927. It later was owned by CBS Radio in the 1940s and was called Studio 52 (named after the company's 52nd acquisition). After CBS moved its operations to the Ed Sullivan Theater in 1976, the space was acquired by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, who turned it into a nightclub, initially called Broadway Catering Corp. The name was changed to Studio 54 and became a venue for disco performers such as Anita Ward, Amii Stewart, Sylvester and France Joli. Some of the artists who played the club before achieving national fame were Madonna, Duran Duran, Wham! and Culture Club. The club was owned by Mark Fleischman from 1981 to 1987. In 1988 the club became The Ritz. The name later changed to Studio 54 again as the venue transformed into a Broadway theater.

The history of hip hop grew out of New York City starting in the mid 1970s when DJ Kool Herc gained popularity from his DJ block parties. The rap era began with such DJs rapping over songs with instrumental breaks, usually in the form of heavy percussion. The rap would usually be a message to the community to help inspire unity. Some of the early hip hop and rap pioneers that helped make the music popular in the 70s included Kurtis Blow, Boogie Down Productions and Grandmaster Flash.

In the 2000s New York City is still a haven for people with musical ambition of all genres. The music that has dominated local nightclubs has been electronic or indie in nature. Some of the successful acts in recent years have been The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, The Bravery, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Grizzly Bear, TV on the Radio and LCD Soundsystem.

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