The term mainstream is usually applied to the arts, such as music, literature, film, etc. and can also be associated with media publications. Mainstream material or media is something familiar to and accepted by the masses; it is by definition, not unusual.Mainstream movies or newspapers tend to avoid groundbreaking or controversial topics, staying within the confines of acceptable and safe American guidelines. Often with music, we identify pop as mainstream, whereas in film, the term is equated with Hollywood features.With news, we understand the mainstream publications to be those that are most accessible and prevalent, i.e. The New York Times or CNN. The American culture holds high regard for these media, trusting in their content and reports as they never seem to deviate too far from general opinion. More importantly, the big news networks and papers strive to keep the American public content with government and national policies, sometimes employing biased techniques in doing so (Cable, 1977: p.60). Similarly, with music and film, those artists that create popular mainstream works use the known and loved formula for success, whether it's through generating pop icons or Hollywood blockbusters. Neither will stray very far from traditional subjects, perpetuating the success and prevalence of mainstream art and media in our country.It is difficult to define the underground. In fact it is almost easier to unveil its meaning by explaining what it is not (especially in association with the
more understood idea of "mainstream"). The underground, then, is culture that has not reached the mainstream but has found an audience of loyal, sometimes obsessive, fans. Often, the underground is associated with illegal, secret, or clandestine activity.
When we talk of the underground movement, this can be associated with film, music, books, TV and even comics. Each underground media culture usually relates to privately produced material, whether its film, music, etc. Generally, the artists associated with the movement are not corporately sponsored and avoid this form of production, in adherence to the underground philosophy.
The most noted period in the American underground movement took place in the 1960s, as the country's mainstream media publications took on one-sided views in their political coverage of the surrounding counterculture and political activism that was so prevalent at the time (Bockris, 1983: p.15). As a result, individuals and groups of students came together to combat such biased reports, crafting their own underground publications. They took on issues of civil rights, antiwar protests and activities, gay rights, new arts and other forms of class struggle. By the end of the decade there were 150 underground newspapers, almost 2 million readers nationwide, and the underground movement was in full swing (Bockris, 1983: p.82).
Underground Vs Mainstream
What makes a hit a hit What qualifies a song, or a band, or an album for the elusive Top 40 Is there a formula, an answer, a key to getting over the threshold of pop fame
What is the reason for the movement of independent music in America How do underground artists with their own Billboard Charts survive Are they bitter or just different Who really listens to them, anyway
In each genre, a mainstream band can be compared to a more underground group or individual. Mainstream bands are specifically known for high record sales, widespread publicity across various media, and a strong fan base; these groups or individuals tend to fall rather squarely into their appropriate genre.
The underground, or "cult" bands, are more aptly called independent musicians. Though some of them are on major labels, none of them compare to the mainstream bands in record sales or publicity. These bands tend to fall less easily into one or two genres, and instead span several types of