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date: 07 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

In 1991, Nirvana’s Nevermind not only launched grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream but also helped launch the DGC imprint of Geffen Records. Following Nirvana singer/songwriter Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, Nirvana’s recordings, and Cobain’s previously unreleased solo recordings, have continued to be a lucrative asset for Geffen and their corporate parent, Universal. They have regularly released and reissued Nirvana material, often with the promise of new songs and other bonuses. This chapter surveys Geffen/Universal’s strategies in packaging and marketing Nirvana, with a focus on the band’s posthumous releases. Geffen initially followed Cobain’s lead, striking a balance between underground credibility and mainstream promotion. However, Universal has increasingly lost that balance, raising questions about Nirvana’s and Cobain’s long-term marketability. This case study demonstrates the complex negotiation of industrial forces, legal concerns, fan demand, and artistic integrity involved in marketing a paradigm-shifting act.

Keywords: Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Geffen, DGC, Universal Music Group, grunge, alternative rock, Nevermind, marketing, music industry

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