The music industry is a continuously growing and extremely popular industry. Different artists from all around the world bravely step into the music world every day, never knowing where it’s going to take them or if they’ll succeed or fail in the industry. the style of music they chose to make and the kind of people they want to hear their musicwill ultimately decide the genre they’re placed in. The purpose of this paper is to specify the difference between mainstream and underground music and its artists. Also, how their decisions as artists have affected their own lives and the lives of their listeners.
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Whether you listen to underground or mainstream is purely up to you. Have you listened to the radio recently? Then you’ve already experienced the most familiar style of music. Mainstream isn’t just music you hear on the radio but also the music videos you’re watching television. For example: Dr. Dre, LL Cool J, Lil Wayne and Jamie Foxx. A new artist may emerge, but there’s a slight chance they could end up a one hit wonder and become last week’s news. A one hit wonder is an artist who only made one chart topping, money making single throughout their career. Artists such as Vanilla Ice, Right Said Fred, Sir Mix-a-Lot, are examples of just that.
Indent new paragraphs Underground music is more of a step into the unknown and unfamiliar. This music can usually only purchased in stores, from the merchandise stand at the concerts, or off their band website. Unfortunately, this style of music is not played on the radio, and you will not see their videos on TV. Internet and satellite radio may be the only option to listen to these songs on the “radio.” Insane Clown Posse, Tech N9ne, Kottonmouth Kings, and Brotha Lynch Hung are all artists that remain strictly underground. Usually an artist stays underground because of the extreme vulgar language and context of the music. They have the control over all personal likeness of themselves. Including how their merchandise is manufactured and sold. Mix-tapes are made strictly for the fans that want to hear this music, typically there aren’t any one hit wonders in this scene.
Even though these two music classifications are similar, there are some very big differences. Mainstream artists rarely have restrictions to the venues they choose to perform at. Venues are more willing to let them perform due to the amount of money they’re making in profits. Performances are well monitored and artists may not interact as much with their fans. As an underground artist, you may not be granted permission to perform at certain venues because of the fan base and the music you promote. Venues may charge more for performances because of the fan base that these artists accumulated. These performances are also monitored but not to the same extent as if they were mainstream. Crowd participation and interaction is a big part of how they keep their fans entertained.
They’ll get the same kind of publicity but the difference is the way the media goes about portraying an artist. For example, T.I was a registered felon and was found in possession of a nice amount of fire arm and ammo. He then made a television show dedicated to making a positive change in young adult lives as part of his community service. You don’t hear much about that now do you? Take ICP’s music video for the song “Miracles”, which came out in 2010. The lyrics “F**king magnets, how do they work?” are still being referred to today. Even though it’s one of the friendlier songs by ICP, it’s still laughed at and frowned upon for its mockery towards the scientific community.
The fan base is another similarity that’s different. Mainstream fans are usually more publically accepted than those fans of the underground. The music is more in the now, while underground is more of a dedication. These artists usually can’t compare similar lifestyles and life choices with fans, which is just the opposite with underground artists. Fans of underground music show more of a loyalty toward the music and lifestyles of the underground artists they involve themselves with. While mainstream music fans aren’t really concerned about how long the artist is going to be around, as long as they’re making good music now.
The personal background of each artist is also different. The way they were brought up, the neighborhood they grew up in, the people which had the most major influences in their lives, the style of music they chose to listen to, the people they used to spend their time with, and the way they chose to live their lives. All different factors into what make each artist different and unique.
Money is a big difference in these two classifications. Mainstream is more about how much more money they’re making than the next person. Aiming for the highest paying venues, selling over priced concert tickets. When underground is more about the music and the fans, the money is just an extra incentive. Tickets are reasonably priced, and it’s more about doing shows where the fans are located.
Contracts made are also a difference between genres. Mainstream contracts are set to more strict rulings when it comes to how fast the CD has to be made, when the video for a single has to come out, how many CD’s are to be made per the years set agreed in the contract. There’s a certain percentage of money agreed to be made with CD and merchandise sales. If the artist would like to collaborate with another artist, depending on their popularity at the time, will decide the price the artist will charge for their time. Underground contracts are less strict and more workable for the artist. Most underground artists have their own labels and are making straight profit off of all the albums and merchandise that’s been sold. Collaborations are usually more difficult if trying to collaborate with a mainstream artist.
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Promotion is also another way artists of any kind go about getting their name out there. They usually have a team of dedicated professionals, also known as their entourage making sure business is always being handled properly. Mainstream artists are more likely to have well known corporations fighting to promote them. The most popular clothing and record stores are willing to put their products on their shelves. While underground artists products are found in more unknown or less popular stores. For example, 50 Cent created his own line of vitamin water, which can be found in any popular grocery store nationwide. The Insane Clown Posses energy drink Spazmatic can only be purchased on their website hatchetgear.com or at licensed retail stores. Due to the fact they’re proclaimed the most hated band in the world.
How the music is written and produced is also a big difference between the two. Most mainstream artists are more likely to have writers hired or provided by the record labels they’re signed to. Barely any control of how the beat is made and how the song sounds. Generally deciding the fan base they’ll be marketing to. Meanwhile, underground artists write their own lyrics, have the ability to choose how to produce, and have the control over how their song is made and ultimately the way it’s going to sound. These artists are marketing songs and music that they know their fans are going to purchase and enjoy.
Mainstream artists are very similar to underground artists but there are also some differences. Mainstream artists make music to make sure they’re making as much as they can as fast as they can. Ensuring that if they didn’t make it long as anticipated, they at least have some sort of money to fall back onto. Until they find something else to satisfy their desires, or a better opportunity comes their way. Fans are important, only as long as they’re out there spending quality cash on possibly a not so good CD. The music they’re making may not be touching the fans they’re marketing to in the way they’d hoped. The interaction with fans is limited and most of the time short. Signing a couple autographs before being rushed inside to prepare for the performance.
Underground artists are more for making music for the love of music and inspiring the fan base they’ve acquired. They try to do more for and with fans to keep them satisfied and dedicated to the music they’re making and the messages they’re trying to get across. Keeping fans part of their lives. Just as if they were a part of their family. Get to know them on a first name basis, being able to hold a decent length conversation. Possibly on a subject they can relate to and give advice about.
There are plenty of underground artists who have gone mainstream. For example: 50 Cent, E-40, Twista, and Ludacris. Artists choose to leave and go mainstream for their own individual, personal reasons. It’s possible; the underground had done all it could for an artist, and mainstream was the only way to satisfy their personal desires as a musician. Or maybe the mainstream was finally ready to accept them. Underground artists sometimes fight and struggle to become a mainstream artist, but then realize what they ultimately wanted is what they’ve been doing the entire time. No one said being a musician was going to be easy and that acceptance would immediately or ever happen.
In closing, mainstream and underground music will always be around. Constantly growing and changing with each generation. What genre you decide to keep up with, is ultimately up to you. The fan, the listener.
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