Free music venues

Enjoy jazz, soul, rock and more—without paying a cover charge.

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American Folk Art Museum

  • Critics choice

Close out your workweek at the American Folk Art Museum, where the Free Music Fridays series features performances from Americana, folk, indie-pop and other acts.

  1. 2 Lincoln Sq, (Columbus Ave at 66th St)
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Austrian Cultural Forum

  • Critics choice

Hear contemporary and classical chamber music from Vienna and other Austrian musical hubs without spending a penny, as all of the recitals and concerts here are free.

  1. 11 E 52nd St, (between Fifth and Madison Aves)
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BAMcafé

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Free

On most Fridays and Saturdays, kick back at a table with a cocktail and take in sets of envelope-pushing jazz, world music and other buzzed-about fare at BAMcafe Live. During happy hour (5:30–8pm select Fridays), save some dough with $3 beers.

  1. 30 Lafayette Ave, (between Ashland Pl and St. Felix St)
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Brooklyn Bowl

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Swing by the Bowl to catch its ongoing Local X Local soiree, held eight times a year featuring performances by NYC bands like Javelin (Apr 11 at 8pm) Crystal Stilts and Bear Hands. There's a $5 cover at the door, but R.S.V.P. at lxl.brooklynbowl.com for free admission

  1. 61 Wythe Ave, (at North 11th St)
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David Rubenstein Atrium (at Lincoln Center)

  • Price band: 2/4

Check out the Target Free Thursdays performance series at Lincoln Center, which often features top-tier musicians from all genres in the mix of theater, spoken word and dance programming. Mark your planner for the Unsound Music Festival takeover (Apr 19 at 8:30pm) with LXMP and Peaking Lights.

  1. 61 W 62nd St, (at Broadway), 10023
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Goodbye Blue Monday

Other than the occasional Saturday nights after 11pm (when shows cost a measly $5), performances at this knickknack-laden Bushwick bar are always free (although musicians pass a hat around for donations). Stop by for antifolk, experimental jazz, noise punk, electronic and classical music, and the entertaining Bushwick Book Club series, where bands perform songs inspired by that month's reading assignment.

  1. 1087 Broadway, (at Dodworth St)
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Hank’s Saloon

On weekends (Thursdays through Saturdays), catch country, rock and indie acts at this honky-tonk dive.

  1. 46 Third Ave, (at Atlantic Ave)
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Immanuel Lutheran Church

  • Free

Escape the city's hustle and bustle for a bit at this quiet Upper East Side church. On Wednesdays, you can enjoy 45-minute lunch-hour sets of mostly pre-19th-century classical music as part of the Midtown Concerts series (midtownconcerts.org).

  1. 122 E 88th St, (at Lexington Ave), 10128
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Lakeside Lounge

  • Price band: 1/4

Because this comfortable joint is co-owned by guitarist and producer Eric Ambel, the roadhouse and roots acts that play here tend to be fun. Local country-tinged talents often appear, and bigger names such as Amy Rigby stop by occasionally as well. The bar, the jukebox and the photo booth are all attractions in their own right—and there’s never a cover charge.

  1. 162 Ave B, (between 10th and 11th Sts)
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Otto’s Shrunken Head

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

The bands hosted by this tiki bar play rockabilly, surf rock and other party music on a small backroom stage. Down umbrella drinks like Pang's Punch ($10), a glow-in-the-dark rum concoction, and dance along.

  1. 538 E 14th St, (between Aves A and B), 10009
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Pete's Candy Store

  • Price band: 1/4

Tired of standing-room-only indie-rock shows in the 'Burg? Nab a seat in this bar's cozy back room, which hosts a wide range of performers, including several folky acts. On other evenings, fun, nerdy events like Pete's Reading Series and the popular Williamsburg Spelling Bee take over the space.

  1. 709 Lorimer St, (between Frost and Richardson Sts)
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Rue B

  • Price band: 2/4
  • Critics choice

Jazz combos jam in Rue B's intimate lounge, where you can enjoy signature cocktails—like the fruity African-rum-based Starr F**cker ($12)—with the live tunes.

  1. 188 Ave B, (between 11th and 12th Sts), 10009
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Spike Hill

  • Price band: 2/4

Bands are booked for every night of the week at Spike Hill—and most of the time, entry won't cost you a penny.

  1. 184 Bedford Ave, (at North 7th St)
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Sunny’s

  • Price band: 1/4
  • Critics choice

On most Wednesday nights, Western swing band Smokey's Roundup performs foot-tapping tunes in this homey bar. And on occasional Saturday nights, you can stop by to see a mix of local acts (primarily bluegrass bands), including the Red Hook Ramblers.

  1. 253 Conover St, (between Beard and Reed Sts)
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Zebulon

  • Price band: 2/4

Far off the beaten path in Williamsburg, this charming French bistro also serves up an impressive menu of offbeat musical fare, including edgier forms of alt rock, jazz and world music, attracting a mixed Brooklyn crowd with its all-over-the-map booking. While many shows are free, check the website before setting out to make sure there's not a cover that night.

  1. 258 Wythe Ave, (between Metropolitan Ave and North 3rd St)
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Users say

2 comments
Diamond
Diamond

None of these musical venues are really open and welcome to African American clientelle. U should find places that support ALL musical genres or at least a WIDER variety.