1991 saw the music industry turned upside down, and 30 years later, its echoes remain

The three members of Nirvana pose for a photo.

In the 1980s the music industry was divided into two worlds.

On one side was the big-money mainstream world of MTV-approved pop and rock stars, the all-important singles and album charts, and pay-to-play commercial radio.

This is where you would find the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Michael Bolton.

On the other side was so-called “alternative music” — a catch-all category that covered everything from punk and metal to gangsta rap and indie rock.

This was an underground world of indie labels, college and public radio stations, low-budget recording studios, and van loads of rough-and-ready bands traversing the dive bars and low-key venues of Australia and the US.

As Craig Schuftan wrote in his book Entertain Us! The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the ’90s:

The two worlds “were so sharply divided that the idea of crossing over wouldn’t have crossed most indie musicians’ minds”.

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