This is a study of a small and previously unexplored field: mainstream and alternative rock music, musicians and fans, on the Mediterranean island of Malta. With 400,000 inhabitants in 316 square kilometers it is the most densely populated country in Europe. Malta has had a lot of outside influence throughout the years, and they still do. It is a tourist paradise, with more than 1 million annual visitors. Malta has been subject to a continous flow of impressions from abroad, from tourists, returned immigrants, and an ever more developed information society. These influences have resulted in Malta having a tremendously vibrant and diverse rock music scene, considering the size of the country. The rock music scene is so diverse, that people naturally feel the need to form smaller units and fragments. This study focus on two of these fragments, the mainstream bands and the alternative bands (and their fans).
This thesis draw largely from Mary Douglas theories on classification. My aim is to clarify the content of the classes mainstream and alternative, the reasons they have come to be, why they persist, and how they are related to each other. And in the values and practices of musicians and fans, as in the music in itself, there are many differences that make a difference . These classifications are made for a use, they are much more than convenient labels.