Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the style is harsh and challenging. Allmusic defines industrial as the "most abrasive and aggressive fusion of rock and electronic music"; "initially a blend of avant-garde electronics experiments (tape music, musique concrète, white noise, synthesizers, sequencers, etc.) and punk provocation".
The first industrial artists experimented with noise and aesthetically controversial topics, musically and visually, such as fascism, serial killers and the occult. Their production was not limited to music, but included mail art, performance art, installation pieces and other art forms. Prominent industrial musicians include Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Boyd Rice, Cabaret Voltaire, and Z'EV. The precursors that influenced the development of the genre included acts such as electronic group Kraftwerk, experimental rock acts Killing Joke, The Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa, psychedelic rock artists such as Jimi Hendrix, composers such as John Cage, writers such as William S. Burroughs, and philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche.
While the term was initially self-applied by a small coterie of groups and individuals associated with Industrial Records in the 1970s, it broadened to include artists influenced by the original movement or using an "industrial" aesthetic. These artists expanded the genre by pushing it into noisier and more electronic directions. Over time, its influence spread into and blended with styles including ambient and rock, all of which now fall under the post-industrial music label. The most notable hybrid genres were industrial rock and industrial metal, which include bands such as Nine Inch Nails, White Zombie, and Ministry, both of which released platinum-selling albums in the 1990s. Electro-industrial music is a more recent development. These three genres are often referred to as simply industrial.