In response to royf19's comment:
Very interesting topic.
I wonder if maybe there aren't MORE one-hit wonders than the past -- there were a lot of one- or two-wonders back in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Maybe it's simply there isn't as many lasting bands.
Z -- Not a bad analysis, but I have a little different -- less cynical take for lack of a better description. There has always been performers that were corporately managed, created and built in pop music. (And I'm not talking about bands that are often labeled corporate rock). There were plenty of greedy performers back in the day and plenty of greedy corporate music execs and managers.
Remember -- The Beatles had to fight early to perform their own music, because the record company wanted to control things. Jimmy Page, when he was a studio guitarist, performed on early Who recordings because the record company didn't trust Pete Townsend. Record companies always wanted to control the artists and create the performer.
Bands like The Who and The Beatles and others, of course, overcame that control to produce their own stuff. But they, like most bands, wanted to make money. Remember, Page owned The Yardbirds name by the time the band disbanded and Peter Grant used heavy-handed tactics to make sure Zeppelin weren't cheated.
But there were plenty of performers who were groomed by the record companies back then like there are today.
The difference, I believe, is the nature of the music scene. Rock bands in the 1960s that didn't want to conform to record companies or AM-pop music singles scene had the emergence of FM radio as an outlet -- Album rock stations. So you had pop music stations and rock stations.
The Who had some hits, but not any (I believe) No. 1 hits, and Zeppelin never released singles, and Pink Floyd never made much of a mark on pop charts, but all three were among the most successful bands because of FM rock stations that helped them cultivate their fans.
The problem today, I believe is two-fold.
1. Short attention spans of younger fans -- always searching for the next cool thing.
2. And this is bigger -- the ease at which bands can get their stuff out there via YouTube, social media, self-recording songs (even an album) and releasing it online, rather than have the cost of producing the vinyl record or the compact disc. So this puts a lot of stuff out there, that the "artists" in the business get lost in the crowd. Many current bands seem to have small niche of fans, and these are the kind of bands that might have found outlets on FM rock stations 40 years ago. I deal heavily with teens, and they name all sorts of groups that I've never heard of and when I look them up, they're really not well known or have had only modest success. In other words, interests are often heavily diverse.
To get notice above the crowd, you need the financial muscle of the PR that a record company can provide, and if they're going to spend the money, they're going to control more of what you do.
So some performers can get enough clout to have some independence, just like the old days, but many still end up beholden to the record companies.
And it's too simple to say people aren't creative any more. But think about this. If you're 20 and starting a band, what new genres are out there? When Jimmy Page was forming Zeppelin, there was barely anything similar out there. He just built -- like others -- on blues and rockabilly.
Other bands of that era created music other genres. All the great bands of the 1960s, '70s and '80s created so much material over the past 40 years that it's a bit unfair to criticize newer performers for not being creative. Yes, the older bands were creative because there were so many veins to mine in the world of music. So now, really, what's left?
Good post Roy. You touch on some interesting topics. An off-shoot of this issue came up briefly in the Roots Rockers thread where a difference of opinion on the Black Keys led to a discussion on wether or not, much of today's popular music may be watered down/trendy because the level of competition may not be as strong as it has been in the past.
I agree that it is way too simple to say that people are not creative anymore, music was different in the 60's,70's 80's where bands like the Stones, Who, Floyd, Led Zep, were not only competing against each other, but constantly having to raise the bar in order to get played and sell albums. Same with the early 90's. with Pearl Jam, Nirvana, GNR, Soungarden AIC, etc... If it wasnt good, most stations would not touch it, regardless who you were. Most garbage never saw the light of day, which is in stark contrast to today.
Technology and the internet may be contributing to this watering down by changing the way we see and get our music. With so much information, and choices available with a click of a mouse, it has made it more difficult for better bands to stand out among the dreck imo Good, or bad, every Tom, Dick and Harry now has an opportunity to get their music out immediately, and if something is lucky enough to catch our attention, even if it blows, it can spread like wildfire, and dillute the market. There are many good bands out there, but now it just takes a little more digging to find them.
While it may be hard to dispute the greatness of the music that came out of creative and artistic periods discussed above, it would be foolish for anyone to discount the creativity going on right now. There are a lot of great bands making music in all genres, and there are plenty who have strung a few good albums together since 2000 -- Radiohead, Linkin Park, RHCP, Rhinna, Alica Keys come to mind.
Even with all of the good new music out there, I stll find it funny when the top selling concert tours the last fews years consist of mostly Classic rock acts like McCartney, Rogers Waters, U2, Springsteen, the Who and Elton John/Billy Joel.