jump to last post 1-25 of 25 discussions (38 posts)

is underground music better than main stream music

  1. hawkprosound profile image60
    hawkprosoundposted 6 years ago

    i have been in a lot of studios and around 1000 of underground artist were you realy dont have to be around the main stream artis to see what these A&r reps are looking for so do you think the unerground music is pure

    1. DogSiDaed profile image60
      DogSiDaedposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I think that it's tough to lump all artists in groups. Some unsigned artists are genuinely not good enough to be signed. Others somehow aren't, but there are Indy record labels out there to try and pick these guys up. I have some music that a lot of people wouldn't know, and I enjoy it, and I support these bands by buying their merchandise and such, as much as I can do to help. It is a shame when some great bands are forced to break up due to not getting noticed (Eg Stone From Delphi), but some bands are better, as they maintain their freedom and their creativity is not suppressed by being made to keep time and forced into material.

      It's a very tough in depth question, and I'm tempted to do a hub on it...

    2. theageofcake profile image77
      theageofcakeposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Had I been asked this question 10 years ago, and took into account only the Best of the best in both underground and mainstream circuits, I would undoubtedly say yes: the underground is superior.  But now we're getting to the point where the divide between the two is less distinct, so the question almost seems obsolete at this point. 

      Without the internet, The Arcade Fire would probably never have the audience it does, for example.  The same can be said of OK Go, who exploded following the release of a few viral videos.  Fame and mainstream success is being redefined, which is really exciting because that means listening habits are becoming a bit more rounded, I think.  Hopefully, in a few years, there will be no "pop" or "underground" - just music.

      1. Jim Strutzin profile image89
        Jim Strutzinposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        It depends on you define "better". If you prefer beautiful people with polished and near robotic vocals mainstream is better. If you prefer ugly people jamming on sup-par equipment, you'll probably prefer underground.

        Really the only thing that separates the two is the type of label they're on. Underground music can be mainstream, popular music can be produced underground. The Internet HAS made it easier for underground music to gain exposure which is incredible, but there will always be some bands barely breaking even for gas money to their gigs.

        If I had to pick I'd say underground, because music has more feeling when you're not getting paid jillions of dollars to write it. Just an opinion.

        1. The Public Image profile image94
          The Public Imageposted 3 years ago in reply to this

          There are some broad generalizations here, but overall, I agree with the respondent's sentiments. The thing is, for all of its shortcomings (and there ARE shortcomings; even Pitchfork.com gives indie albums low ratings sometimes), underground music retains a kind of purity of expression that you just don't encounter in most mainstream music.

          This is likely because, by the time an artist has gotten to the point where they've been picked up by a major label and touted as the next big thing, they've already compromised their values to appeal to the lowest common denominator that there's no genuine emotion or intellect to be found in the music--basically, they're cranking out a bunch of tunes composed according to certain rules, and that's generally not a great way to stimulate creativity.

          On the flipside, you have indie artists who are free to do as they please, and who are using that freedom to experiment with everything from song structure to the actual sounds of their instruments to achieve something new.  Generally, these are artists who act on impulse and follow their own instinct.

          But sometimes, the modern underground scene can be just as judgmental and pressurized as the mainstream, and you find that as one act with a novelty element gains popularity, suddenly there are a multitude of bands aping that new sound (see Radiohead in relation to every indie band from 1997 through 2005). And while underground scenesters denigrate their mainstream counterparts for being derivative, they're often guilty of the same crime--it's just that they're probably aping someone else's work out of genuine affection for it, rather than simply because they saw dollar signs in their future.

          So, at the end of the day, like Jim Strutzin I would also choose underground music as "better" than mainstream music (assuming we're quantifying based on emotional and intellectual content as well as originality). But... if 10,000 people buy the new My Bloody Valentine record and 100 million people buy the new Justin Beiber record, who can say who's work is superior? (For the record, I would take MBV on their worst day over Beiber on his best. But sometimes I wonder if I'm just out of my gourd.)

    3. Kylo88 profile image59
      Kylo88posted 5 years ago in reply to this

      what i love about undergound groups like ICP is while they do talk about killing, they talk about killng people like pedos and rapests. they aren't just killing anyone. also they have many deep songs and a biger meaning behind all of their songs. and they started small, it wasnt their goal to make it big when they started Phychopathic Records. it's almost like they made their music for the underdogs i guess. cause they were never really popular. that's why i can connect with them. i hear meaning in hteir songs, which is much more than i can say for todays mainstream

  2. mega1 profile image79
    mega1posted 6 years ago

    which is which?

    1. hawkprosound profile image60
      hawkprosoundposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      yea thats true but why are ther a lot of artist thinking they cant get signed unless they make a radio song

  3. wesleyacarter profile image60
    wesleyacarterposted 6 years ago

    corporate interest is the main issue.

    There is a lot of mainstream music that is really good music and challenging in different ways. Most of it is not challenging because that would mean that it is unpredictable and does not fit the criteria for cost-benefit analysis.

    There is also a lot of underground music that is high quality that doesn't get the time of day simply because the artist is not interested in marketing their music that way, or they don't have that kind of drive. Then again, it is the underground which feeds the mainstream. You can see that from all the Drum n Bass played in Lexuz commercials.

    I don't think it is a matter of which is better, but which is appropriate. For wal-mart, Britney spears is appropriate. For an underground rave, something else will do.

    The better question, i think, would be "When will underground music find it's own identity instead of simply feeding the mainstream machine?"

    1. hawkprosound profile image60
      hawkprosoundposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      man that is the best way to put it but lots think that main stream artist are better thats just like why we think americas top model is what we see as beutiful see peeps cant no the dif unless they here it on the radio and do the radio play underground music

  4. Valerie F profile image61
    Valerie Fposted 6 years ago

    Short answer- some of it is, some of it isn't.

  5. diiamondgurlent profile image60
    diiamondgurlentposted 6 years ago


  6. Cheeky Girl profile image85
    Cheeky Girlposted 6 years ago

    Zero 7 are one of the coolest groups out there, and gave birth to Sia and Tina and Mozez, so this is the reason why - when you take the pomp of money out of the equation - they are all great, Some crossover takes place. What can be underground today can be mainstream tomorrow. Underground is a testbed for lots of great artists!

  7. 0
    Poppa Bluesposted 6 years ago

    I don`t think underground is any more pure than any other music. I also don`t think it should be the goal of any artist to be signed rather then to just create and let the work speak for itself. Especially in these days of digital communication.

  8. 0
    A Texanposted 6 years ago

    I don't know about underground music but elevator music sucks!

    1. Kylo88 profile image59
      Kylo88posted 5 years ago in reply to this


  9. rebekahELLE profile image92
    rebekahELLEposted 6 years ago

    I like the indie artists much better than mainstream any day.
    mainstream music is nothing but $$.

  10. shazwellyn profile image82
    shazwellynposted 6 years ago

    mainstream music is for mainstream people!  I like dark indie like The National, Iliketrains, although I am good at spotting what is underground now but within a year becomes mainstream.  By then, of course, I have lost interest and album no 2 never seems to be as good as the debut.  I think once production messes with music, it makes it sterile x

  11. Shinkicker profile image89
    Shinkickerposted 6 years ago

    I think mainstream music is mostly terrible and keeps out many great musicians from the public eye. The more you search around the more wonderful music you find, like on MySpace etc

    1. 6 String Veteran profile image86
      6 String Veteranposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Yeah, some of the best bands are on MyS. And YTube has the best guitar players in the world.

      As far as 'purity' is concerned, that's up to the artist and is a reflection of his/her/the bands' initial intentions.

      Take James Taylor for example. His music is 'pure' JT today even though he's a mega-star. Many artists are shallow begin with: their initial intention is not to really communicate themselves + their ideas / sounds to their audience. But that's ok and nothing to get mad at. If you want a sincere artist or band, they're out there. You just have to look.

      So, whether a band or artist is mainstream or not doesn't determine the intentions of that band or artist. Look at Metallica for another example. Ppl got way upset when they CUT THEIR HAIR. I mean, come on. I never liked them anyway (prefer Megadeth) so it was no biggie to me.

      Speaking of Megadeth, their lyrics have pretty much remained the same--no sell out there--and they are huge, just as big as Mtlca.

      So it all depends. The sad thing, I think, is when a sincere band gets soft and sells out to make a name. F that. It'd be btr if they were shallow and only out for the dough in the first place.

      1. Kiwi843 profile image61
        Kiwi843posted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I prefer indie. That's why I'm writing the series of hubs I am, about positive hip hop.

  12. seanorjohn profile image80
    seanorjohnposted 5 years ago

    There are some great underground bands performing in london pubs and even private houses that are gaining in popularity. I came across an online mag called "uppror" that is helping them get noticed. Worth checking out groups like the heartbreaks. my son lives in London and has started to interview some underground bands for some music mags. He does this unpaid but loves finding new talent. Some of the stuff  he gets me to listen too is truly awesome.

  13. The Taco Tagger profile image60
    The Taco Taggerposted 5 years ago

    I don't think mainstream music can be bad as long as the label doesn't try to make them sound any different. One of my favorite bands, As I Lay Dying, was underground and then went mainstream and they have actually gotten better and are one of the leading acts in metal today. If anything, going mainstream gave them access to the ability to make a cleaner and more professional sound while still keeping lyrical integrity intact. Whether or not you like As I Lay Dying is a personal preference but that is a case where the underground went mainstream for the better.

    Personally, I hate the type of people that say that they don't want their favorites bands to go mainstream. I personally think that if you want a band to make money and be successful, then they need to go mainstream for the exposure, and those types of people are just wishing them to not have success. Again though, I want to repeat what I said. A band can go mainstream and keep the integrity of their music if they can find a label that is willing to let them be in complete control of their music.

    1. seanorjohn profile image80
      seanorjohnposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Great points. Bands can retain their integrity if they sign for the right label AND GENUINELY STAY IN LOVE WITH MAKING GOOD MUSIC. cAPS MISTAKE

  14. JoshBoutwell profile image61
    JoshBoutwellposted 5 years ago

    In terms of Hip Hop I think the underground rap scene is definitely where you see more of the "art" where as the mainstream is just poppy music that's for clubs or radio. I find myself more and more listening to independent or underground artists who seem to care much more about their craft than those with the million dollar budgets. Anytime I hear someone make the comment "hip hop sucks now" I always reply with "you're just listening to the wrong stuff."

    1. The Taco Tagger profile image60
      The Taco Taggerposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      I totally agree with you, especially in the metal scene. I have hundred of artists that I listen to, some main stream, some not, and whenever someone says that metal sucks now, I give them some direction to the right places to look.

  15. Matt in Jax profile image80
    Matt in Jaxposted 5 years ago

    Definitely hard to say which is better. I personally like hearing a lot of local bands and underground music, but I do like the mainstream too.
    Underground might also just sound better because you don't hear it every two seconds on the radio.

    1. celebritie profile image75
      celebritieposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      Yeah most commercial music is overly played and it makes everyone forget what real music sounds like. I actually prefer local bands. I have found some really good music on Youtube.

  16. stclairjack profile image80
    stclairjackposted 5 years ago

    read through the whole strand and i gota agree with those that say underground may seem better because were not assaulted with it on the radio every 30 minutes,...

    then i'm one of those who loves live music over canned any day,... i will listen to a possitively horible group in a bar just for the sheer agony,... the laugh alone is worth the cover,.. and those nights when the crowd and the band all connect is magic.

    the best part of a long road trip is surfing the radio just to see what comes up, music is soo damn regional,... the radio comercials can be better than the tunage at times,... serius satalite has been a god-send for alternative and underground,... metal doesnt have as many markets as mainstream country on free radio,.... the old school blues and jazz,... yea, they still make new blues and jazz,... the free radio boys may hate me for it, but my serius saves me in the "compleetly country market zones"

    i think the differnce between underground and mainstream is two things,...

    drive- some want that kind of success and chase it like voo-doo,... the success being more important than the art,... others dont give a rip and just wana play,... still others avoid it like the clap, and wear there non-success like a badge of honor.

    connection- the label can push it, and the artist can even be talented as hell,... but if the audience doesnt connect with it,... they wont buy it,... and a lot of that is the sheer luck of timing,... take a look back 20 years,...40 years,... some of the stuff we reffer to as timeless or clasic today,... you couldnt get a label to sign that now if heaven and earth depended on it,... but it was right for the time,...

    in the end,... its just magic,... and thats music.

  17. celebritie profile image75
    celebritieposted 5 years ago

    Everyone near me are really into playing guitars, even the girls. It helps if you can sing live too!

  18. Lenzdp08 profile image60
    Lenzdp08posted 5 years ago

    Business ruins creativity. Even making hubs I have been tempted to just write what will pay... But real beauty comes from expressing what is inside not what will bring a quick buck. Check out some of my hubs on great lesser known bands.
    <URL snipped - no self-promotion in the forums>

  19. Ultimate Hubber profile image78
    Ultimate Hubberposted 5 years ago

    Normally mainstream is better but I've listened some songs of underground bands which have the ability to beat mainstream music easily. And those underground songs do get famous later on, eventually promoting the bands to mainstream.

  20. SerinaSkye profile image58
    SerinaSkyeposted 5 years ago

    It depends, mainly. The bands that are underground are solely making music because they enjoy it. Well, actually, that isn't the case for all of them... but definitely for the majority. Once they hit mainstream, almost all of them kind of make an album that the mainstream will listen to. They almost all bank in and sellout a bit. Which upsets the fans that have been there through the long haul. It's no longer fun to listen to a band or go see them live when they're main concern revolves around money.

  21. Mike Falleron profile image59
    Mike Falleronposted 3 years ago

    Definitely better. It's more honest an uncorrupted. Check out UndergroundMusic.fm

  22. Zelkiiro profile image84
    Zelkiiroposted 3 years ago

    There is no difference. I love Black Sabbath, Iced Earth, and Nightwish just as much as I love Timeless Miracle, Wuthering Heights, and The Slow Death.

  23. Reality Bytes profile image94
    Reality Bytesposted 3 years ago


    Underground is so much better than what is played on mainstream!

  24. Willsummerdreamer profile image88
    Willsummerdreamerposted 3 years ago

    I don't think that underground music is necessarily better than mainstream, I've heard as much crap as good stuff on both side. But then again I find myself looking more and more outside of the country to get my music fix. Because for whatever reason, the kind of music that I consistently like (hard rock, video game music and metal) isn't really all that popular in America right now. So I dunno *shrugs*.

  25. Rodricklewis profile image61
    Rodricklewisposted 2 years ago

    For those who are making music as a form of art, yes I think you'll find the most "Pure" music underground. The only problem is that a plethora of underground artist are willing to do whatever now a days to make that jump into the industry, so they'll soliciting themselves as already unpure.