Cuci Amador of Miami-based indie/dance duo Afrobeta performing at the Electric Pickle in Wynwood

Miami’s been a playground for out-of-town musicians since the days of the Rat Pack, but in 2011, we’re proud to say the city’s evolved into an eclectic and vital place to actually make music, too. World history has given us an indelible Latin beat, and these days not only do that scene’s hot stars, like Enrique Iglesias, call the city home, but so do their record labels. Nearly every major imprint’s Spanish-language sector is based here, and a good chunk of global Latin pop hits are conceived in the 305 as well.

Of course, much of the credit for the city’s rise to pop prominence belongs to Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who pioneered Miami as a home base for crossover music in the ’80s. Today, they entice rising stars like Natalia Jimenez to work and play here. But Miami’s a sonic brew thanks to the confluence of cultures, up-and-coming neighborhoods and tranquil scenery. Take Pitbull, for instance—his bilingual mix of dance and hip-hop could only coalesce the way it does in our town, and that unique flavor is helping him dominate globally. In fact, Miami’s homegrown hip-hop talent, from rappers like Rick Ross to producers like Jim Jonsin as well as world-class studios like Hit Factory, has attracted outsiders and created an industry hub to rival Atlanta. “[Miami] didn’t feel like a musicindustry town,” says white-hot songwriter Rico Love, who decamped from Atlanta to pen hits for Beyoncé, Nelly and Keri Hilson. “There wasn’t all the politics and bumping into people every other day. And I love that I can go to the beach after working and have a pool in my studio complex.”

Meanwhile, South Beach’s two-decade renaissance allowed the town to become a hub for the rise of club music, and home to globally recognized events such as Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival. And now that both events are including more and more live performances, it’s given local artists a wider platform. The real spirit of the contemporary Miami sound lies in bands like Spam Allstars, Mayday and Awesome New Republic, who mix up genres freely both as a method of survival and a consequence of their surroundings. “You’ve got to play party music,” says Cuci Amador, frontwoman of electro-pop duo Afrobeta. “People in Miami really dance! If you go to concerts in other cities, they just stand there.”

Even straight-up rock ’n’ roll prospers here. Punk idol Iggy Pop has a spread in South Dade, often walks our streets and occasionally materializes at local shows. His garage-punk spirit lives on in a new crop of bands like Jacuzzi Boys, whose recent signing to a national label leaves them poised for broader fame.

“The rent is still cheap, the weather is beautiful, and we really do have an open-minded, cosmopolitan, international audience,” says Lauren “Lolo” Reskin, cofounder and owner of independent record store and community hub Sweat Records. “If you work hard and are good at what you do, people will pay attention.”

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