Since the late 1970s, the city has been home to numerous famous bands from different genres. These include punk, funk, dub and political consciousness, notable examples being Glaxo Babies and The Pop Group; drum & bass, with notable artists such as Roni Size/Reprazent as well as the pioneering DJ Krust and Rob Smith; and trip hop or "Bristol Sound" artists such as Tricky, Portishead and Massive Attack. This music is part of the wider Bristol urban culture scene which received international media attention in the 1990s.

Bristol also has many live music venues. The largest of these is the 2,000-seat Colston Hall, which boasts a diverse range of shows, performers and live stand-up, and has hosted famous bands such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Other venues include the Bristol Academy, Fiddlers, Victoria Rooms, Trinity Centre and St George's Bristol, and a range of live music can also be enjoyed in pubs such as The Old Duke (jazz-orientated), the Fleece and Firkin (rock) and the Louisiana (indie). With world music, opera and classical concerts also widely available, there is something for everyone.