How is mainstream music determined

Mainstream as a genre of music

Mainstream generally denotes the mass, culturally also the mass taste. It is a common term that is mainly used in the cultural field. Anyone who wants to reach the masses with their products is basically serving the mainstream. As an opposite pole, various subcultures are emerging here, which consciously want to close themselves off to mass tastes.

In music, the term mainstream roughly describes everything that cannot be assigned to subcultures (such as indie, alternative, punk, etc.). Mainstream products also deliberately serve the mass taste in music. Musically, however, a product does not necessarily have to correspond to the taste of the masses. However, if the publication is aimed at reaching as many people as possible, such a product would also satisfy the mainstream. Measures for this would be z. B. the choice of a so-called major label and the implementation of comprehensive advertising measures. Fierce opponents of the mainstream, for example, would rather reject a contract with a major label (i.e. one of the big record labels) because that alone serves the mainstream.

Seen in this way, the term mainstream has to be seen as a very general and vague umbrella term. A Celine Dion or Mariah Carey as well as Michael Jackson, but also Metallica or AC / DC corresponds to the mainstream. Everyone places their products with the intention of selling as much as possible.

It can be proven that if you close yourself to the mainstream, there is little chance of sufficient media coverage. Without this presence, it is difficult to adequately market your products. That is why indie labels and artists in particular are often looking for the way through new media in order to ultimately do nothing other than reach the masses.

In order to be able to serve the mainstream, the product should also be easy to consume. Artists often have to make concessions in favor of the distribution companies and labels. This is also one of the criticisms of mainstream music and that is why some counter-movements developed. Typical examples would be indie, alternative, underground, punk, anti-folk, etc. Strangely, however, intersections form as soon as these directions become popular. This then leads to paradoxical situations.

In punk z. For example, groups formed early on that wanted to serve the mainstream very well. A classic example is manager Malcolm McLaren with the band Sex Pistols. Right from the start, it was about the marketing of a product. The band and manager were looking for a degree with a big label, which actually contradicted the punk idiom. Likewise, alternative bands like Nirvana were ultimately unable to escape the mainstream, simply through media presence on MTV, for example.

In principle, one can therefore also determine that almost every subculture will at some point be discovered as a profitable source and then at some point dissolve into the mainstream.