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RE: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

So I've been on a Vai binge as of late, with both my digital music and YouTube and in more than a couple of videos, Steve makes mention how his music has not gotten much (very little if any) airplay.

IMO - Steve Vai and others in that genre are mainstream enough for me (probably because I was introduced to instrumental music as a guitarist early on), but it would cool for more radio stations or other media streaming services or outlets to start showing them more love and dropping their music in along with their regular selections.

So many great players out there, that if given the chance, would really be appreciated for their artistry and musicianship and how they are able to deliver a message and emotion in the same way a traditional band does with lead/backing vocals and the like.

Thoughts?

Steve
 

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Don't take this the wrong way but Vai (and anyone like him) is not and never was remotely close to mainstream. His music is very much an outlier with limited appeal that sometimes self limits.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Don't take this the wrong way but Vai (and anyone like him) is not and never was remotely close to mainstream. His music is very much an outlier with limited appeal that sometimes self limits.
His solo stuff for sure, but he was certainly mainstream with DLR. Who hasn't heard "Yankee Rose" on the radio?
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

There hasn't been a solid new genre of music since alternative hit when I was in high school twenty five years ago. Sure there have been new branches but it's pretty much the same tree. The only real new alternative station here plays 25 year old grunge mixed with acts like Portugal - The Man, Cage The Elephant, and St Vincent. Satellite radio gives those rock acts more play but, like cable tv, you're paying a premium for that. Don't get me wrong. I love Vai, but even his hit DLR stuff isn't mainstream anymore.
The cool thing is the internet gives these acts a solid yet still niche audience.
Kind of a side note: I've seen Satch and Vai many times live and even Paul Gilbert a few times. Wednesday I'm going to get to see Greg Howe live with Protocol. I never thought I'd ever see Greg live. All of my access to his material has been thanks to the internet. Not to mention Simon Phillips being rock royalty.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

The word "mainstream" has a specific definition: the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal and conventional.New Oxford American Dictionary In music, mainstream may just mean "marketable." Either way, mainstream is not necessarily a good qualifier for an artists music because it is often short lived. The internet has its good side and its bad side. Discovering artists is perhaps the good side, appreciating their music while providing no compensation is the bad side. You are going to see these players live which is a form of compensation and a good thing to do.

Also, keep in mind Vai has said a lot of things so make sure you check the date of when he said it. If I'm not mistaken, he owns the royalties to a large percentage of his music. (Correct me if I'm wrong). This means airplay could potentially be worth a lot of money for him. It would be a unique situation though.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

You just don't see many instrumental musicians in "mainstream" music... Satriani would be pretty close for an instrumental guitarist though. Vai is definitely on the fringe and not as "listenable" to the average person unless he is kept in line by the restriction of being part of another band, like DLR or Whitesnake.

I used to correlate "mainstream" with syndicated radio... which gave artists nationwide or worldwide exposure. Now that the internet came along and gave artists a direct way to get their music out through youtube and sell through places like bandcamp, it's all different. The last several albums I have purchased have been directly from finding them on youtube and buying from bandcamp... Who has ever heard of Sithu Aye? Well I can't get enough of his music and bought everything he has for sale... lol. Bought a couple of Nick Johnston's albums from Amazon after hearing him on youtube as well. Just way different now with so many fragmented genres and "mainstream" doesn't mean the same thing it used to, at least in my mind.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

I tend to listen to a classic rock station in the car on my commute to work and I've heard Surfing with the alien played a couple of times, Summer Song played once and Just Like Paradise a few times and Fool for your lovin' once.

Everything else, nothing. And this station will play Rush songs ;)
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

The word "mainstream" has a specific definition: the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal and conventional.New Oxford American Dictionary In music, mainstream may just mean "marketable." Either way, mainstream is not necessarily a good qualifier for an artists music because it is often short lived. The internet has its good side and its bad side. Discovering artists is perhaps the good side, appreciating their music while providing no compensation is the bad side. You are going to see these players live which is a form of compensation and a good thing to do.

Also, keep in mind Vai has said a lot of things so make sure you check the date of when he said it. If I'm not mistaken, he owns the royalties to a large percentage of his music. (Correct me if I'm wrong). This means airplay could potentially be worth a lot of money for him. It would be a unique situation though.
I bought a digital copy of "Wheelhouse" then a CD version for the car. :D
In general I try to buy a physical copy of artists I really like. Most streaming deals suck and they don't get much money there.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Just Like Paradise a few times and Fool for your lovin' once. Everything else, nothing. And this station will play Rush songs ;)
Ironically the most mainstream song associated with Vai - JLP - he didn't write but would have been the 90210 theme song if they only Dave had better management (the same folks who advised him to leave VH lol). More ironically the original '80 WS FFYL version holds up much better (coverdale agrees) than the '89 version which - with the video - is almost a clinic as to why people scoffed at hair metal.

The vast majority of people just don't want to hear music without lyrics since it is uninviting & lacking almost universal appeal but much more so when it features monotonous guitar excess song after song after song.

You can count on two hands (if not one) the memorable mainstream songs without lyrics and i can't think of one post-Woodstock era.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Who really cares what is mainstream or not? You listen to what you connect with. Music used to define class, lyrics were mostly confined to folk songs sung in bars by the drunk, where the upper class went to the symphony, and lyrics were confined to opera. Now it much less defines class as it does personal taste. Todays Billies are just as likely to listen to rap as they are jazz. Most jazz had no lyrics, most blues did, and in all genres of music you had songs with and without lyrics, except maybe rap [none that I know of]. Electronic music for clubs, no lyrics, they're not needed. Music does not need lyrics to be successful, but it needs lyrics to get on top 40 radio.

There has always been plenty of music that was mainstream but had no lyrics, Kenny G was all over the air, Yanni [did I just say that?!] the list is long, just not as long as those that add words to connect to a listener where the words matter as much as how the notes are arranged.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Ironically the most mainstream song associated with Vai - JLP - he didn't write but would have been the 90210 theme song if they only Dave had better management (the same folks who advised him to leave VH lol). More ironically the original '80 WS FFYL version holds up much better (coverdale agrees) than the '89 version which - with the video - is almost a clinic as to why people scoffed at hair metal.

The vast majority of people just don't want to hear music without lyrics since it is uninviting & lacking almost universal appeal but much more so when it features monotonous guitar excess song after song after song.

You can count on two hands (if not one) the memorable mainstream songs without lyrics and i can't think of one post-Woodstock era.
The slip of the tongue record is embarrassingly one of my all time favourites!!! To me, it's the lyrics that date those sorts of songs and make them 'cheesy'. I'm sure that chart music now will be regarded with equal disdain! I also like Disturbed!
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

The slip of the tongue record is embarrassingly one of my all time favourites!!! To me, it's the lyrics that date those sorts of songs and make them 'cheesy'. I'm sure that chart music now will be regarded with equal disdain! I also like Disturbed!
Slip of the Tongue was great, it's the hair and makeup that makes it seem cheesy to me, looking back... The over-the-top guitar and lyrics still hold up today, but I seriously doubt that the 80's hair will ever come back. Then again, I never thought bell bottom jeans would ever be seen post 70's!

Oh, bigtime YES for Disturbed... one of the few modern bands I really dig along with A7X. \m/
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

The slip of the tongue record is embarrassingly one of my all time favourites!!! To me, it's the lyrics that date those sorts of songs and make them 'cheesy'. I'm sure that chart music now will be regarded with equal disdain! I also like Disturbed!
LOL. TBH it's a real shame Vandenberg (co-wrote all songs with David) couldn't record the album as it's not fully Vai's fault but (like Skyscraper) was just too non-cohesive & messy & forced for lack of a better word.

Coverdale is great on twitter though. I feel for him in a way as he suffered with incredibly bad luck & timing & illness (& poor choice in women). First entered Deep Purple (mkIII) which was so lame compared to the historic mkII. That morphed into Whitesnake but went thru too many lineup changes nevermind booting their best fitting guitarist (Sykes). Still he managed to forge ahead only to lose that replacement (AV) to injury. Gotta credit his (obvious) self-realization the band was a parody by then see his own "girly man" comments. The '87 self-titled album had some serious airtime and huge "mainstream" appeal.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

I find Vai's DLR albums almost unlistenable these days apart from for nostalgia's sake. I love some of the solos and some of the riffs, but that's about as much as I can handle these days.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Slip of the Tongue was great, it's the hair and makeup that makes it seem cheesy to me, looking back... The over-the-top guitar and lyrics still hold up today, but I seriously doubt that the 80's hair will ever come back. Then again, I never thought bell bottom jeans would ever be seen post 70's!

Oh, bigtime YES for Disturbed... one of the few modern bands I really dig along with A7X. \m/
No, there's no excuse for an 80s hair revival!
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Who really cares what is mainstream or not? You listen to what you connect with. Music used to define class, lyrics were mostly confined to folk songs sung in bars by the drunk, where the upper class went to the symphony, and lyrics were confined to opera. Now it much less defines class as it does personal taste. Todays Billies are just as likely to listen to rap as they are jazz. Most jazz had no lyrics, most blues did, and in all genres of music you had songs with and without lyrics, except maybe rap [none that I know of]. Electronic music for clubs, no lyrics, they're not needed. Music does not need lyrics to be successful, but it needs lyrics to get on top 40 radio.

There has always been plenty of music that was mainstream but had no lyrics, Kenny G was all over the air, Yanni [did I just say that?!] the list is long, just not as long as those that add words to connect to a listener where the words matter as much as how the notes are arranged.
I would say it is more the human voice that is strong and the lyrics, while helpful, are secondary. There are many instances of lyrics that are unintelligible but the brain is ok with that because it knows it is hearing a human voice. Of course, you also have situations like "All Along the Watchtower" by Hendrix. If you love Bob Dylan, great! His voice did that song no favors, but Hendrix made it iconic. There are fewer of these examples though. Rich is right, the voice and most of the lyrics carry the most musical weight, especially if you want it on Top 40 radio.
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Mike, I hop you will enjoy the protocol 4 show!!! I saw them in last November and that was my best show in years, the sound, the groove, the musicians, the performance the music, everything! Even discussions with each of the 4 guys and a pic with Greg!!!
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Mainstream is being in the media's spotlight. And I don't mean radio, radio is mostly dead playing re-treads. I mean ANY media that's out there today, which is some radio, TV, interviews and music shows, even instrument promotions, and the ever so important social media buzz.

One of the most important things to get 'mainstream' is currency. Like when VH finally came out with a new record, all of sudden you're hearing and seeing VH all over the place. Steve was never THAT mainstream but his talents and music and just off the charts. But to get into mainstream discussion, he's got to release some new material!!!! C'mon Steve!!! I keep looking for "new" material and none comes, how many times can you re-release "Passion and Warfare".

Joe Satriani stays current not only from touring regularly (like Joe Bonamassa), but he keeps putting records out -- and his latest one he still kills it!

The cool thing is the internet gives these acts a solid yet still niche audience.
Kind of a side note: I've seen Satch and Vai many times live and even Paul Gilbert a few times. Wednesday I'm going to get to see Greg Howe live with Protocol. I never thought I'd ever see Greg live. All of my access to his material has been thanks to the internet. Not to mention Simon Phillips being rock royalty.
Not to derail this thread...

Saw Protocol last week in N'ville, MAN were they good. I'm kinda like you, I've been a Greg Howe fan for years but haven't had a chance to see him live. So not knowing Protocol I went to go see them. They were awesome! And you know the surprise? Not Howe, and actually he takes a subdued roll in this band (which is cool, it ain't his band), but Simon Phillips! And I'm not a drummer!!! That guy is amazing. His band was so tight you couldn't see daylight between the measures! I went out and got all 4 Protocol records and love them all. Prog music like that is few and far in-between in this world and those guys bring it. You'll love the show!
 

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Re: When is an artist considered "Mainstream"?

Protocol was bad a$$! I'm glad I got to see them. Holdsworth played here about when our second kid was born and I missed that but I wasn't about to miss Greg Howe. And Simon Philips? Amazing! I started doing my own instrumental tunes really after hearing Jeff Beck - long after being exposed to Satch and Vai. And with records like "There and Back" Simon Philips is very much a part of that audio DNA. Amazing drummer live! My wife, who I will say is WAY more into mainstream stuff, liked it too.
Not to derail further but: Greg looked like he struggled a bit with his guitar the first couple of songs but he eventually fell right in I think. Simon dropped a stick on the opener and didn't miss a beat. He could probably drop a bag of sticks while playing odd meter and not get lost for a second. Incredible!
Getting back on topic, to me mainstream in rock is who the twenty somethings are going to see at a festival show. Maybe it's Paramore. Maybe it's Cage the Elephant. Maybe it's Red Hot Chili Peppers if they release a new record everyone likes. Maybe it's Weezer. And all those bands have an internet presence too. Sure, I dig Vai and Satch more but to argue they're mainstream or anything close to it is just not the case IMO.
But, as with Greg Howe and Protocol, the niche fanbase can get a big surge of energy from the internet. The first crowd funded thing I ever donated to is Paul Gilbert's new record. Also, I was born in the early seventies so I would have never known how awesome 70's rock is if it weren't for the internet. I always thought Thin Lizzy or ZZ Top were just okay from the stuff they played on the radio but with online streaming I listen to their catalog over and over again avidly.
I also really dig R&B soul. The Isley Brothers, The Time, Prince, The Gap Band, Stevie Wonder, The Ohio Players, Parliament, The Brothers Johnson... some of these acts are no longer mainstream R&B either they way DLR is no longer mainstream rock. Thank God for the internet allowing us access to so many of their recordings. (Also, if you haven't heard Jessie Johnson or Ernie Isley play guitar you really should do yourself a favor and listen to some of the records they're on.)
And now that (you're right) there isn't really the big influence of radio I like to try and find new acts; so I don't think of myself as the curmudgeon stuck in his childhood genre of music. :D That's how I found Hard-Fi, Interpol, The Killers (who get radio play), and Mastodon (who are amazing!).
Ok, long rant but I'll end with this. It is fun to see someone who was "niche" gain more of a mainstream appeal. And that name is Richie Kotzen. I remember picking up Richie's early Shrapnel stuff and then when "Fever Dream" it I was all "WTF?!?" But I DUG it! I think Richie did more to introduce me to R&B than probably any other act. And it's good to see him get more mainstream respect. I knew it was possible for him to get there way back at "Mother Head's Family Reunion." Now is his current success "mainstream?" Maybe. But it's closer now than it was in 1994. Good on him!
 
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