The Soundtrack of Spring Break

From MTV to UME – The Music that has defined the last three decades of Spring Break

There’s no doubt that music and Spring Break go hand in hand. This is especially the case when taking the past 30 years into account.

Spring Break’s first real major foray into live music began in 1986 when MTV decided to make their presence known to the world on the shores of Daytona Beach, Florida with a massive beach concert featuring some of the hottest national pop music performers. It was such a success, MTV came back several more times and played everything from Pop Rock to Hip Hop.

In 1987, the Beastie Boys concert officially signalled that beach concerts were going to be synonymous with Spring Break. And in 1990 when Hip Hop hit the beach with MC Hammer, live MTV style concerts were definitely going to be the key to any Spring Break destination’s success.

When MTV transitioned to Lake Havasu, Arizona in 1995 and then Panama City Beach, Florida in ’96 and ‘97 – which featured Gwen Stefani and No Doubt and the Spice Girls – there was no denying that pop music was what ruled the beach.

Then MTV returned to Panama City Beach in 2006 and then again in ’08 and ’09, solidifying northwest Florida’s place atop the Spring Break destination chart as the place to be each year. During that time, Rap was back, and concerts featured Lil Wayne, Drake, and 50 Cent. But it was also the beginning of the Luke Bryan and country music era.

While country music was becoming the main focal point in Panama City Beach (in addition to Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, and Kenny Chesney were top highlights), South Padre Island, Texas was ushering in a new live concert music program for spring breakers.

The Ultimate Music Experience (or just UME for short) focussed on EDM (electric dance music) which was taking the world by storm with its fast energy beats and exciting rhythms. David Guetta and Tiesto headlined the first UME in 2011 at the Schlitterbahn Beach Water Park in South Padre Island. In the years following, Calvin Harris, Skrillex, Avicii, and Steve Aoki have all performed. Even Panama City Beach has adopted the EDM vibe, showcasing talents including Diplo, Kaskade, Dada Life and Aoki at the Beach Bash Music Fest.

It’s hard to imagine Spring Break without live music. Whether it’s Pop performances, Hip Hop, EDM, or Country, there’s enough happening now at pretty much any hot destination for everyone to enjoy. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to Spring Break and music, variety has been the secret to success!