What’s the difference between Broadway and Music Row in Nashville?

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Key Points

Broadway is the entertainment district. It’s filled with bars, restaurants, and honky tonks. The Ryman and the Country Music Hall of Fame are both on Broadway.
Music Row is where legends were made. The storied recording studio RCA Studio B is on Music Row. While no longer in use, you can take a tour of it.
Both are worth visiting. But it’s more convenient to stay near Broadway.

Nashville is famous for its iconic streets, Broadway and Music Row, which are the heart and soul of its vibrant music scene.

Broadway and Music Row each have their own unique charm and significance. Each street is also an embodiment of Nashville’s rich musical heritage and vibrant culture.

In this post, we’ll look at the differences between Broadway and Music Row. While they both represent the city’s music scene, their character, history, and offerings are quite different.

Broadway: The Entertainment Hub

Broadway, often referred to as “Lower Broad,” is the heart of Nashville’s entertainment scene. This lively street is where you’ll find honky-tonks, restaurants, and shops lining the road. Here, music is not confined to grand stages but spills onto the streets.

From country to blues to rock, you will find a variety of genres being played at the many bars and honky-tonks. Regardless of the time of day (or night), the street is buzzing with activity.

Notable Locations on Broadway

Among the many attractions on Broadway, some stand out for their historical significance and unique offerings. 

The Ryman Auditorium, often called the “Mother Church of Country Music,” is one of them. This iconic venue has hosted some of the most significant events in music history and continues to be a cherished site for music lovers. And it’s not just musical performances, either. Check out this list of superstars who have played the Ryman.

Another must-visit spot on Broadway is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. This museum houses an extensive collection of country music artifacts and memorabilia. From historic recordings to costumes to instruments, the museum offers an in-depth look into the evolution of country music.

Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, a famous honky-tonk on Broadway, is another place you cannot miss. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and live music, Tootsie’s has been a favorite hangout for musicians for decades. Many big names in the music industry have performed here, making it a significant part of Nashville’s music scene.

How long is Broadway in Nashville?

Broadway Street runs from 21st Avenue South all the way to 1st Street along the river. It is about 1.7 miles long. 

You may see elsewhere online that it is only around a mile, but this is not true. It begins around the Kimpton Aertson Hotel and ends as it intersects 1st Street, right at the Riverfront Bus Stop.

Is Broadway Walkable?

Yes, Broadway is very walkable, with wide sidewalks on both sides. In fact, it can get pretty crowded and parking (and driving) can be difficult. Plus you’ll want to be able to stop in the bars and check out the live music.

So overall, walking is probably the best way to see the live music on Broadway Street. It is rated an 81/100 on WalkScore.

Music Row: The Heart of Nashville’s Music Industry

While Broadway is the entertainment hub, Music Row is where the business of music happens. This district is the heart of Nashville’s music industry, housing numerous record labels, publishing houses, recording studios, and other music-related businesses. Music Row is where dreams are born, where aspiring artists come with hopes of making it big. It is now essentially synonymous with country and gospel music.

Unlike Broadway, Music Row is not lined with bars and honky-tonks. Instead, this district is filled with recording studios, music licensing firms, radio stations, and more.

Notable Locations on Music Row

RCA Studio B was one of Music Row’s most legendary spots. Known as the “Home of 1,000 Hits,” this studio has witnessed the recording of some of the biggest hits in the music industry. From Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton, many legendary artists have recorded here. While no longer recording music, you can now take tours of the studio.

Another notable location on Music Row is the Historic RCA Studio A. This studio, built by the legendary Chet Atkins, has been a creative hub for musicians for decades. Unlike RCA Studio B, it is still active and is now the home of Low Country Sound.

The Musica statue is another highlight of Music Row. This massive bronze sculpture, depicting nude figures dancing in a circle, is a symbol of Music Row’s creative spirit. It is a popular spot for photos and a must-see when exploring Music Row.

Is Music Row Worth Seeing?

Music Row is absolutely worth visiting. As mentioned, the area is renowned as the heart of the city’s music industry, boasting an impressive array of recording studios, record label offices, radio stations, and music licensing firms.

A walking tour is one great way of taking in all that Music Row has to offer.

Is Music Row Walkable?

There are sidewalks along most of the streets in Music Row, with plenty of crosswalks, so overall the area is very walkable.

Music Row scores an 89/100 on WalkScore – even higher than Broadway.

What’s the Difference between Broadway and Music Row in Nashville?

Broadway and Music Row, though both integral to Nashville’s music scene, have distinct identities. 

Broadway is the city’s entertainment hub, bustling with bars, honky-tonks, shops, and tourists. It is a place where music is a celebration, where every night is a party. 

On the other hand, Music Row is where the business of music happens. It is a quieter, more professional area, home to record labels, publishing houses, and recording studios.

In essence, Broadway is where you go to experience Nashville’s music scene, while Music Row is where Nashville’s music is made.

Is it Better to Stay Near Broadway or Music Row?

Staying near Broadway puts you within a short walking distance to many attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium, along with a variety of shops, bars, and restaurants, which makes it a more convenient option compared to Music Row.

While Music Row is a central part of Nashville’s music scene, because it is the business side of Nashville there isn’t as much to see and do there.

That being said, here are three highly-rated hotels near Broadway:

The Hermitage Hotel

Boasting a unique blend of classical architecture and Southern elegance, The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville is an iconic landmark.

Since its opening in 1910, it has been a symbol of refined hospitality, offering guests luxurious accommodations, high-end amenities, and a top-tier dining experience.

The Bankers Alley Hotel

The Bankers Alley Hotel is an artistic, boutique hotel that offers a unique stay with a contemporary art museum on its premises.

Adding to its charm, the hotel also houses a billiard room and a serene garden area. What truly sets this hotel apart, however, is its contemporary art museum and dining.

The Westin Nashville

Located a few blocks from Broadway, the Westin Nashville provides modern accommodations with excellent amenities, including a rooftop bar that offers a stunning view of the city.

This is another highly rated hotel, with 4.5 on TripAdvisor with over 4,000 reviews. Their themed suites gives you sweeping views of downtown Nashville and comes with luxurious amenities.

The Bottom Line

Broadway is where you’ll find live music all hours of the day and night, while Music Row is where Nashville’s legends were made. Both are integral parts of Nashville’s iconic music scene. If you’re a music fan planning a visit to Nashville, be sure to make time to visit both spots.