Sociology of Music


By: Matt Summers,Nich Nichols,

Anna Edet, and Hannah Heikkila

“Where Words Fail Music Speaks”

Music is an important part of any culture and is a key element in socialization. It creates a bond between people within a culture and may even exist as a language or a get away for them. Music allows people to relate to one another and has been an extremely important part of society. In Omaha, many cultures from different cities emerge when there is a concert in town. Overtime musical preferences, audiences, and even prices of concerts have fluctuated. Omaha hosts concerts and musical talent at many venues with diverse audiences. The goal of this research is to launch a sociological examination into the various types of musical performances and who they attract. We will also focus on how the Omaha venues have evolved.

This project will discuss the impact music has had on the culture of Omaha. Music has a long history in our city. We are lucky to attract many artists of different genres to play at our venues. Omaha, located in the middle of the United States, is home to half a million people. A wide spread of artists choose to play in Omaha because of the diverse music loving population. Omaha’s largest venue is the CenturyLink Center. It can hold more than 17,000 concert goers and host big name artists like Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Miley Cyrus, and Mumford Sons. (“CenturyLink Center Omaha.”) Omaha has many smaller venues that attract concert goers as well. Theses venues include Holland Performing Arts Center, The Orpheum Theater, The Hive, The Waiting Room Lounge, and The Slowdown. These places are spread out throughout Omaha where different ages and race live. Many of the venues are located centrally in areas with high traffic making them easily accessible and well known. (“Live Music in Omaha.”)

History of Omaha’s music

In order to fully understand the music scene of Omaha, it’s important to be knowledgeable of the history of music in Omaha. Music in Omaha has been extremely diverse over the years and has strongly influenced the culture of the city. Omaha has been home to music such as blues, jazz, and funk, however, Latin, alternative rock, and hip hop became popular in more recent years. (“Music of Omaha.”). Omaha has been home to and thrived off of African American music beginning in the 1920s. This African American music created a culture that began in the Near North Side neighborhood and it was said that, “this area was the heart of African American culture in Omaha” (LAC). Performers that came through Omaha included Duke Ellington, Count Baise, and Luis Armstrong. These big name artist go to show that Omaha was an extremely popular stop for blues, jazz, and other singers.

Not only was Omaha a stop for African American musicians, but Omaha was also a place that successful musicians came from For example, “One of the most successful artists to come from the Near North Side was Lalomie Washburn. Lalomie wrote songs for and backup sang for artists like Chaka Kan and Stevie Wonder” (LAC). Though, this wasn’t all Lalomie did. She later became a solo artist and was inducted into the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame. (“Music of Omaha.”)

Our research

For our study we have focused on three very different venues in Omaha. We googled how large each venue was, what types of concerts are held at each place, and the demographics of audiences. We figured that each venue would have a different type of audience for different concerts held there. For example, at a venue like a pub, you typically wouldn’t see young children attend a concert there. Then, we looked up what concerts are lined up to perform at each venue. We did this to see the different kind of music Omaha offers and what venues hold which genre of music. We then discovered the importance of music in Omaha and how much it contributes to our culture and who we are.

Demographics of audiences

Music allows people to make connections and express themselves. It influences every aspect of our lives. The culture of music represents social distinctions like age, race, class, and gender. We see examples of this in our community when we analyze demographics of concert attendees. (Dowd.)

Opera Omaha is a community attraction producing multiple opera shows throughout the year. It is known for attracting an older demographic audience. The median age of the opera attendee is 48 years old (Johnson). This may be due in part to the stereotype that opera is too expensive for younger people to afford. Opera is also associated with wealth and class. The book, Introduction to Sociology, describes the experience of listening to opera music as high culture. High culture is thought to be reserved only for the highest classes of society.


This is an image of the Dreamland Ballroom, which hosted many artists in Omaha during its blues and jazz days. 


The CenturyLink, located in Omaha, hosts numerous musical events every year. It is the largest venue in Omaha attracting many famous performs. 

What concerts are held in Omaha?

Though many big name artists come to Omaha, smaller venues are found all throughout the city and showcase different genres and musical talent as well. We are going to focus on a larger venue called the Centurylink and two smaller venues, The Waiting Room and The Hive. We want to find out the different types of performers and audiences that come to the different venues (“Live music in Omaha”).

The CenturyLink Center hosts a variety of musical talents every year. Each concert attracts different groups of people. Taylor Swift played to two sold out Omaha crowds in October during her 1989 World Tour. She attracts a large fan base and is widely known throughout the world. The typical Taylor Swift fan is a white, female teenager. Her music is classified as popular culture according to Introduction to Sociology. “Popular culture refers to the pattern of cultural experiences and attitudes that exist in mainstream society(Introduction to Sociology 2E).” Taylor is a trending topic on social media. Her music is consistently in the billboard top 100 and repeatedly played on many local radio stations. Taylor is not the only popular artist who has power and influence on a generation that has played in Omaha.

Garth Brooks, a well known country artist, recently played six consecutive concerts at the CenturyLink Center. His music can also be classified as popular culture because of its mainstream following in our society. After finishing his six concerts Garth raved about Omaha and our love for music by saying, “Still blown away with Omaha! What a great place to play! I’m telling every artist who will listen, Play Omaha!”(“CenturyLink Center Omaha.”)

Omaha not only hosts many musical talents, we have created a fair share of talented artists as well. 311 is a well known rock band who has origins in Omaha. 311 uses their music to express themselves and get their message to listeners. The band’s name, 311, is omaha police code for indecent exposure. Without clarification the name could be mistaken for other meanings. For example, some people believed that 311 stood for KKK because K is the 11th letter in the alphabet and 3 stands for the number of Ks. This is not true, but is an example of the symbolism names can portray. The band claims their inspiration comes from their own lives and also what is happening in the world around them. They get inspiration from listening to music, seeing a piece of art, personal relationships, current events, and things seen on the internet. (“Music of Omaha.”)

Venues in Omaha

Picking a venue to play at is another important aspect of music. 311 prefers to play at smaller, more intimate venues where they can better connect to their fans. Recently, they played a secret show in Omaha for their closest fans at The Hive. Different venues attract various audiences. The Hive is a bar that attracts adults 21 and over. Artists choose a venue based on which group of people they are trying to appeal to. (“The Hive Omaha.”)


In this image, the Omaha native band, 311, is shown above.

The Centurylink Center is a huge venue. It is said that a six story building can fit inside it. It can hold more than 18,000 people for concerts, sporting events, and several other occasions. The Centurylink can hold 2 or more events in one day. Its arena can change from a hockey rink to a concert setting in just an hour and 20 minutes. As we look at the Centurylink calendar for the year of 2016, we see many concerts being held in town. Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Mumford and Sons, and Five seconds of summer are all in line to play at this venue in the next couple of months. These big name artists are well known among Omahans. They have had many number one hits on Itunes charts as well. (“CenturyLink Center Omaha.”)

The Hive, located in downtown Omaha, is a popular rock club and art gallery. It has a craft cocktail bar for its visitors and many live music events. This venue is what Omaha calls a nightclub. At the Hive there are sign ups online for singer/songwriters to come and play at this venue. They also have an upcoming Reggae night scheduled. Another thing they host is a Blues night where they will focus on artists that play that type of music.(“The Hive Omaha.”). We notice that at this venue the artists that come to play are not necessarily well known and on itunes top charts. At this venue they focus more on artists from Omaha and lots of singer/songwriter type of music. The atmosphere is also a lot different than the Century Link. The Hive has a cocktail bar and most people over the age of 21 come here to socialize and have a night out while at the Centurylink the people of all ages came strictly for the artist playing and have probably been waiting months for the concert.

The Waiting room in Omaha is an all ages lounge that is home to much of Omaha’s nightlife. They have had many different changes done to their building in the past couple years to compete with all of the venue options in Omaha. What is cool about this lounge is that it is where many new artists come to play and eventually become very popular. They have had concerts here like Imagine Dragons, Wiz Khalifa, Sara Bareilles, Macklemore and many artists that have just recently become known and popular on itunes. The ticket prices here are priced affordably compared to the CenturyLink Center where tickets are usually average around 200 dollars. Though similar in size to The Hive, The Waiting Room draws in more well known artists and not so much singer/songwriter and Reggae musicians. The Waiting Room and the Hive focus on their bar and the music while the Centurylink focuses on many different events, including sports. (“The Waiting room.”)

Outdoor concert venues have been trending. Outdoor concerts range from small local artists to concerts and large scale music festivals. Many of these concerts in Omaha outdoor venues are even offered for free enticing attendees. They are usually hosted during the summer and fall months when the weather is suitable. Some popular outdoor concert spots in Omaha are Stinson Park, Turner Park, Memorial Park, and Sumtur Amphitheater. “Stinson Park hosts the Maha music festival every summer attracting large crowds who enjoy independent indie rock music. Last summer the concert hosted Modest Mouse, Atmosphere, The Jayhawks, and The Good Life.” At the end of June Bank of the West presents a widely popular free concert attracting over 70 thousand people (Coffey). They come to listen to musical greats like Joan Jett and Eddie Money and then enjoying a fireworks show. Turner Park hosts Jazz on the Green for free every Thursday towards the end of summer.

What we have learned

1.Music affects business and jobs in our culture

As we gathered our data we have come to realize that Omaha would not be the same without music. Certain venues would not be where they are financially and may not even exist. Many people would be out of jobs without concerts in Omaha. Without all these popular artists coming to town and the interest our population has in different concerts, we may not even have the Centurylink Center, The Waiting Room, or The Hive. Music is an important part to the business world in Omaha.

2. Venue affects audience

We have concluded that many popular artists come to perform in Omaha because of our large population and awesome crowds of people. We have interests in many different genres of music which attracts diverse artists for us to experience. Omaha is known for it’s Indie, Reggae, and Blues music and performances. We are also hosts for many popular pop, rock, and country artists that are seen on itunes top charts. Many people come from out of town to attend a concert in Omaha.

3. Social class matters

Another thing we have discovered is that people of all ages, cultures, and sex attend concerts here in Omaha. One can find girls as young as five attending a Justin Bieber concert. It is amazing how all of these people from Omaha with different ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and beliefs come together to attend a concert. It has become a way for us to socialize. Music has become a major part of our society.

Sociology and the music in Omaha intertwine. Sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society. Music in Omaha has grown and has been built up to become something to take pride in. It helps our businesses function and has developed many great jobs and venues here. Music is a way for people to connect and express themselves.


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