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Reasoning on the Topic “Mainstream vs Underground”

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    Music has became evident in the culture throughout the world. Divided by the mind of the listener, mainstream music and underground music can be seen as two completely different sub groups of music. This can be seen by their popularity, messages that are portrayed, creativity, as well as in their sales and income. Hip hop music developed as a local, underground, alternative to the mainstream with a message which confronted urban poverty, racism, and a growing sense of economic abandonment in Black inner city neighborhoods.

    Mainstream music is popular commercialized music. If the media makes it popular and well known, it is mainstream. Underground music is not advertised or represented by the media. However, no one is better than the other in the sense that there are good music as well as bad music whether mainstream or underground. Mainstream and Underground music contrast in their popularity. Mainstream music can be seen as all about the glamour of the music industry and portraying the image that the target audiences would like to see.

    This image involves images and lyrics about money and its “illegal” origins, sex and the greed for women who degrade themselves for the limelight, as well as the glorification of the use of illegal drugs and the sales of it. The media has presented music, specifically rap, to be associated with negative connotations of blackness, “letting commercialized hip hop become a nearly constant caricature of gangstas, pimps, and hoes, we’ve come to equate black poverty with black street life.

    Mainstream music is still more “censored” and does not always focus on content rather than form. It is another form of slavery in which artists are still forced to watch what is being said and hold back on. On the other hand, Underground music is about the quest for creativity and the artists’ expression to their fullest potential. Because of the lack of label representation, there is also a lack of restrictions. There is not any censorship. This allows underground artists to be more free with their lyrics and create their own image rather than following a certain riteria. Underground music is “kept real”.

    In opposition, both sub groups of music share the common occupation consisting of artists who love their craft. Because of the different statuses in popularity, mainstream and underground music are also different in their revenue. Mainstream music sells! It is what is in the public eye of locals as well as tourists and what society invest their money in through the purchase of CDs, online music downloads, as well as attendance in concerts.

    Local promoters for the tourist industry exploit the distinctive aspects of their city’s music scene by often changing their artists’ image to appeal to outsiders as well. Ratings also contribute to the income of mainstream music. Whether it sounds good or bad, money is continuously being made in the industry. It is promoted by a record label whose goal is to make money. In contrast, underground rarely sells or does not sell at all depending on the artists’ promotion of their own self. Underground artists are barely advertised to the public for purchase or download.

    But, underground music artists also hold concerts to appeal to those that do give them recognition and are aware of their unpublicized music. Creativity plays a major role in the presentation of music. How you make your music available and appealing to your target audience, has a lot to do with the influence it has on the listener. Underground music displays more creativity in contrast to mainstream music in which most underground artists uses beats that they may have produced and their own lyrics.

    It gives the artist a better sense of independence when they can put our their own music . There is more originality present because there are no rules to follow. Graffiti is now shunned in mainstream music as well as beat boxing or the making of beats. Underground artists use these mediums as a way to be “heard” and related to. Underground music also can be learnt from in which it has an impact on people. It may be a voice for the artist as well as the people to potentially make a change, while most mainstream music are so commercial that they tend to sell through their music.

    There may be obvious differences in the presentations, sales, creativity, as well as messages of mainstream and underground music. All in all, most underground artists eventually emerge into the mainstream industry, then changing to suit the settings of mainstream music. Mainstream artists, if the time is given, can reform mainstream music to represent what it once did while taking the title of underground; music that had more meaning to positively influence rather than negatively. Many scenes go unacknowledged by the press, but as Thornton notes, the music press and associated niche media can “baptize scenes and generate the self-consciousness required to maintain cultural distinctions”.

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