Where Did The Arena Rock Bands Go?

Cheap Chalupas takes a breather from undermining the ethnic cohesion of his country of birth for a glorious experience of authentic face-stuffing to link to a Pitchfork story about the pittances that rock stars get paid today. In the comments, “lords of lies” responds with an interesting take on why there are so few bands today who have any staying power beyond one or two radio-ready songs.

the era of the long-lasting arena rock band with scores of top ten hits is over for four reasons:

1. the low-hanging fruit of novel guitar riffs has been picked clean. it’s just much harder now to compose more than one or two catchy tunes that don’t blatantly rip off songs from the past, autotune to the contrary notwithstanding. how many ways can the twelve-note scale be arranged? depressingly, there may be a limit. plus, the ready availability and replayability of forty year old rock songs means that current artists can’t plagiarize the past without getting called on it. this was perhaps not so much the case for past artists, who could safely crib from older songs that weren’t subject to so much radio or internet replaying.

2. the incentive structure has changed. a dude who pens one decent song can get on stage and score chicks for years, maybe even decades, based on that frantic bestowal of fame. internet play action and advanced marketing offer instant fame to the fly by night, one hit wonder musician. the pussy rewards for male artistry flow faster and stronger today than they did in the past, thanks partly to unshackled female hypergamy and partly to the betatization of the average american male. as a result, the self-perceived need to pump out multiple albums of high quality work has diminished.

3. easy living (c.f. porn, video games, endless plates of food stamps) has taken the edge off the urgency to create a compendium of works of spectacular art that can win over a large and dedicated audience of admirers and payers. men, in a word, are being medicated into comatose feminized stupor by dopaminergic distractions.

4. diversity is our lack of diversity. the advent of the diverse playground known as the internet has created so many ostensible musical niches appealing to everyone’s most personalized tastes that it has, paradoxically, made music *less* diverse, by funneling would-be artists into similar musical paths which maximize the odds their voices will be heard above the din. what point is experimentation and building an oeuvre for the long haul when your potential audience is so prefragmented and fickle? may also explain why music is getting louder today.

i’d add that there exists the possibility as well that people in the west are simply getting less creative in some genetic/physiological sense. perhaps it’s all those BPAs in our plastics and Pills in our water.

It’s a good question why the modern music industry produces so few “stadium rock” bands anymore. Prosperity likely has something to do with it. And the reasons given above are plausible, if not proven. You can make the case that someone like Justin Bieber (update: yesterday’s news) or Kesha is the 2012 equivalent of U2 or Led Zeppelin based on sales numbers and breadth of fame, but the comparison is rendered a mockery under any actual music-based standard. Platinum-selling country music stars and remixers rappers featuring X, Y and Z are about the closest present-day analogues to long-lasting power rock bands of the past.

This is not to say there is not good music being produced today. I like a lot of stuff that’s come out in recent years, mostly from fly by night, non-mainstream eclectic acts. But most of the stuff I like is by a multitude of bands that tend to disappear after one hit album (which usually contains no more than three righteous songs). Even looking at top 40 songs, the bands comprising that radio-ready list have little staying power. fun. has a couple of catchy tunes, but does anyone seriously think they’re going to pump out one stellar album after another, for years on end, like Zeppelin or The Beatles or even Nirvana did?

As for the main complaint that musicians don’t get paid enough from internet radio royalties, I have to agree with this:

cry me a river. hard to get worked up over the financial travails of quasi-rock stars. do people realize what motivates men to form bands and play on stage? they do it all for the nookie. the girls they get couldn’t give a rat’s ass how little they make from pandora plays. this is why there continues to be a steady stream of aspiring young men throwing caution and their bank accounts to the wind in hopes of becoming the next indie flavor of the month.

When the day comes that dudes stop picking up guitars and warbling beta ballads to score poosy is the day that I’ll entertain their griping about illegal downloading.

3,129 thoughts on “Where Did The Arena Rock Bands Go?”

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