Alternative Rock and it's sub-genres Grunge and Pop Punk expand in popularity and ironically, explode into the mainstream during the 1990's. Major labels begin luring independent bands away from small record labels. These artists are resistant to the demands of big record companies and unwilling to change styles to reach a mass market audience. Nevertheless, many alternative bands, including REM, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, The Smiths and grunge
bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and others find success with mainstream audiences.
Another alternative to radioplay and traditional mainstream success is the rise in Jam Bands influenced by the Grateful Dead. Noted for cross genre improvisation and extended jams, bands such as Phish, Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, and Widespread Panic rely on album sales and live concerts.
Heavy metal morphs into new sub-genres such as rap metal or rapcore, nu metal and industrial metal. Electronic music continues to change as well, with techno and house splitting into new styles including trance, drums & bass, trip-hop and eurodance.
In the 90's Hip-Hop continues to expand in inluence and grow in diversity. With huge growth in sales, radio airplay and overall success for artists like NWA, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, Salt n' Pepa, Ice T, Dr. Dre, Eminem, Tupac Shakur, Cypress Hill and many others.
Pop and teen-pop continue to appeal to a younger radio audience with the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, 98 Degrees, Hanson and The Spice Girls having major success. Late in the decade female teen pop artists ascend with major hits by Jennifer Lopez, Destiny's Child, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears. Contemporary R&B also scores big on the pop charts especially for Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, TLC, Toni Braxton, Celine Dion and Boys II Men.
In the UK the term BritPop is coined as new bands Oasis and Blur battle for the top of the charts. Singer / Songwriters enjoy a resurgence especially for female artists like Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, Tori Amos, Jewel, Natalie Merchant and Sheryl Crow.
Advancements in computers and software allow for digital music creation and recording on home computers. The internet and sound compression allow for digital distribution of music, often bypassing the need for a major label album release.