A Study of Gothic Subculture

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Updated 3-12-2009
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The six grounds for a band being called Gothic:

  • The band's musical sound fits into one of the gothic music types -- their music creates a certain eerie or surreal sort of mood.
  • The band's lyrics contain gothic themes (e.g. grotesque, mysterious, desolate).
  • The band members' appearance is Gothic -- they might wear a lot of black.
  • The band calls itself and/or its music Gothic. They tour with other bands that are considered Gothic. They appear on Gothic compilation discs.
  • The record label, music marketers, or music reviewers present the band as Gothic. The reasoning behind this is - usually - based on one of the above four reasons. However, often the motivation for labeling a band Gothic is to sell the product and does not have much, if any, basis in the above four reasons.
  • The most feeble reason to call a band Gothic is that people who call themselves Gothic listen to the band. This does not necessarily make a band Gothic, but it does lead many people to believe the band is Gothic, whether they qualify in any of the previous areas or not.

Often it depends on how the band views Gothic as to whether or not they will consider themselves Gothic. Some bands will say that they are creating completely original music that defies classification, or that they do not wish to label themselves. Nonetheless, music reviewers and marketers like to classify music to help people get the feel for what the music sounds like for those who have never heard it before. It also helps them sell music to their target market. There is a considerable amount of flexibility when classifying a band as one thing or another. Different people can put the same music into different classifications. A band might change their sound or style from album to album with a variety of labels put on their various works. There's a good amount of crossover of music types as well, such as Gothic Industrial, when the same music falls into more than one category at the same time. Just remember: these classifications are not set in stone.