Music industry gadfly Bob Lefsetz reads an article in the New York Times about declining television ratings and extrapolates the death of the superstar:
Back when the music business was fat and happy, in 1998-9, “E.R.” had a 17.8 rating. So, in ten years, a popular network show lost almost HALF of its viewers. So, if you think that the Boss or U2 or any superstar of yore is selling so poorly because of piracy, you just haven’t thought enough about the equation. There are only 24 hours in a day, music is fighting against not only television, but video games and the Internet too. Furthermore, every record is fighting against every other record in history. You can only play one record at one time. Do you want to spin the newly-hyped crap or an old classic? If you do create a new classic, how hard is it to get the word out?
In other words, we’re seeing the death of the superstar. Maybe one or two could emerge, kind of like “American Idol”, but the ubiquitous star, known by everybody, is history.
We’ve been talking about the phenomenon of fragmentation on the message boards. It’s difficult to discuss this topic without veering into fogeyism, but keep in mind that the lack of a single dominant cultural authority has been a great boon for independent music and other niche scenes.
The only people who need superstars are the assholes at Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel)/Ticketmaster who require acts capable of selling out their soulless enormodomes.