With its initial run from 1994 to 2005, Peter Conlon and the late Alex Cooley's Music Midtown earned a reputation as Atlanta’s definitive outdoor, large music festival. Following a six-year hiatus, the event, powered by Conlon and LiveNation, has reached cruising altitude, growing heftier with each successive year, presenting established and rising mainstream musical acts. Sign up online for this year’s lineup, schedule, and contests. The festivities unfold in the heart of Piedmont Park. PRO TIP: It’s an urban festival, so take advantage of the transportation systems the city has to offer. Take a ride on MARTA or stroll to it on the BeltLine. Avoiding the nightmare traffic situation that backs up at the intersection of 10th and Monroe through Midtown will improve everyone’s festival experience.
History of Music Midtown
In the summer of 1994, Atlanta concert promoters Peter Conlon and Alex Cooley put together a two-day outdoor music festival in the middle of the city, partially as an experiment. They wanted to gauge the public's interest in such an event, and within a few years Music Midtown became an annual weekend festival featuring six stages that drew as many as 300,000 concertgoers at its peak. Acts as varied as Bob Dylan, James Brown, Devo, Hole, Funkadelic, Wilco, Iggy Pop and hundreds of others were all part of the annual lineup.
Music Midtown is the largest music festival in Atlanta, attracting thousands of concertgoers from around the country. The 2018 Music Midtown took place the weekend of September 15-16, and once again makes its home in Piedmont Park. The 2018 lineup boasted an assorted mix of monolithic mainstream pop and hip-hop artists, as well as various rising but lesser-known performers. Headliners Kendrick Lamar, Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, and Post Malone are joined by the likes of Janelle Monáe, Portugal. The Man, Sylvan Esso, Mattiel, Gucci Mane, Arthur Buck, and more. As with every year, concertgoers flock to the city in droves. Atlanta denizens may be well advised to take MARTA to the Midtown station and walk to the park, or simply stroll along the Beltline right into the heart of the park to avoid the soul-crushing traffic situation, not to mention finding a place to park — parking passes can be purchased through Music Midtown’s website for $20.
From a 2018 Interview with Peter Conlon - "We’re the biggest music festival in Atlanta. Historically, we’ve built a brand. A lot of acts in the history of the festival that went on to be meaningful acts in this market, their first play was Music Midtown. There’s a lot of focus on certain acts at the mid-level. As recently as 21 Pilots, who headlined Music Midtown a few years ago — we just put them on sale at Philips Arena, and they sold out in one day. We were one of the first festivals to have them.
The original concept of Music Midtown was to have an eclectic enough lineup where we brought people in for certain artists but exposed them to other artists, to all different kinds of music. That’s what we’ve tried to maintain. We aren’t as eclectic as we used to be, but maybe we’ll get that way.
The other thing we’ve tried to do is keep it affordable. The first festival back in ’94 was $25, but we can’t do that anymore. Even the current price of $145, for the acts you are seeing, it’s extremely affordable. In an arena, you pay that much just for one night. The other thing is the economic benefit for Atlanta. It generates around $50 million for the city. And we pay for everything.”