The breakthrough success of the band Nirvana led to the widespread popularization of alternative rock in the s. Big Bucks. Alternative Rock. Alternative bands during the s generally played in small clubs, recorded for indie labels, and spread their popularity through word of mouth.
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Record companies signed contracts with those entertainers who were thought to become the most popular, and therefore who could generate the most sales. The New York Times. Defining music as alternative is often difficult because of two conflicting applications of the word. Both started out as punk rock bands, but soon diversified their sounds and became more melodic.