In 1975 Brisbane's first FM radio station began broadcasting from a studio at the University of Queensland Student Union. 4ZZ (later 4ZZZ) became a catalyst for the development of original music in the city. Bands such as The Saints, The Go-Betweens, gerrymander and the boundaries, The Riptides and The Laughing Clowns established an ecosystem for alternative music that continues to flourish.
Brisbane's nightlife today is a thriving and varied mix of pubs, clubs, themed bars, and various other venues. There are two main areas of interest: The "city" (CBD) and the "valley" (Fortitude Valley). While the city typically consists of venues catering to those with a more traditional taste in music or atmosphere, the Valley typically offers a drastically different, more cosmopolitan selection of places. The Brisbane City Council has tried to preserve the valley as an entertainment precinct with the introduction of Valley Special Entertainment Precinct.
Following consultation with residents, music venues and commercial business operators within Fortitude Valley, the Valley Special Entertainment Precinct commenced on 1 July 2006. Its introduction is one of the first steps in achieving the aims of the Valley Music Harmony Plan.
Brisbane is featured in the song It’s Hot in Brisbane but it’s Coolangatta, recorded in 1953 by Gwen Ryan, Claude Carnell’s Orchestra and additional vocals from Doug Roughton’s Hokey Pokey Club.
The Queen Street Mall in the CBD offers nightclubs and bars, as well as the Conrad Treasury Casino. Nightclubs in the city include Strike Bowling, a nightclub with bowling lanes, and the lounge bar Jade Buddha. More conventional bars include The Victory. Mana Bar is cocktail bar and video gaming lounge in Fortitude Valley.
West End, a cosmopolitan suburb about two km south-west of the CBD, plays host to a wide variety of street dining, music, bars like the Rumpus Room, the Lychee Lounge, Uber, The HiFi, Ill Manor and others. RSL clubs and local pubs around the suburbs occasionally have live acts.
Most major concerts are held in the Brisbane Entertainment Centre in Boondall, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre adjacent to the South Bank Parklands or the centrally located Riverstage. Other major events (including raves) are hosted at the RNA Showgrounds (due to its massive size and under-utilization when not hosting the Ekka), the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre near Southbank and more recently, Suncorp Stadium. Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre at Nathan has hosted a number of music concerts.
Cloudland was a famous Brisbane music and dancing venue located in Bowen Hills. The venue hosted thousands of dances and concerts in the 50s, 60s and 70s and was demolished in 1982. Brisbane Festival Hall hosted performances for many major tours by visiting overseas artists including The Beatles on 28 June 1964.
All kinds of music can be found in Brisbane's thriving live scene, from Dance to Rock, Pop and Hip hop. Most venues are found in the Valley and surrounding areas since the popular Mary St and Brisbane Festival Hall city venues were closed. Notable venues in the Valley include The Zoo and Rics Cafe which both opened in 1992, The Arena, The Tivoli, The Fort, The Step Inn, The Empire Hotel, Black Bear Lodge,nand The Press Club. The Rev closed down in September 2006. The Alley Bar closed down in March 2008.
Brisbane is home to a number of music festivals including Future Music Festival, Stereosonic and Soundwave, St Jerome's Laneway Festival and Valley Fiesta. Livid was an alternative rock music festival held annually from 1989 to 2003.
Brisbane's live music scene has long been supported by independent record stores such as Rocking Horse Records which originally opened in 1975, Kill the Music and Skinny's Music, and Brisbane music can be seen and heard online at Before Hollywood or Raw Audio - online TV for Brisbane Music. Rave Magazine was a free weekly magazine which covered the entertainment scene in Brisbane from 1991 to 2012.
The Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra is a community orchestra based in Brisbane established in 1999.