Why Aren’t the Media Gaga Over Aventura?
It is difficult to peruse any avenue of pop culture these days without running across a video, a review, or at least some commentary on Lady Gaga. She’s everywhere. Granted she scored five top ten singles in 2009. And, truth be told, her opening performance at this year’s Grammys with (Sir) Elton John was captivating, if overblown. But then, everything at this year’s Grammys was overblown, from Beyonceé extravagant song and dance medley amid a gaggle of dancers who looked like starship troopers wearing World War II-era Nazi helmets to Pink’s cirque-du-soleilesque performance, suspended high above the audience (mostly upside down), while being drenched with water.
This kind of overproduction is a clear indicator that after a decade of its worst losses in history, the music industry has returned to the practice of crowning superstars. As the Boston Globe’s Ben Sisario put it, the music industry “reversed its recent trend of showering acclaim on modest sellers, sticking instead to the biggest names in entertainment,” or at least entertainers like Lady Gaga, or the young Taylor Swift, whom they hope will be able to generate mega-sales for years to come.
While there will probably be a place for superstars in the music industry of the future, gone are the days when a single-minded focus on a handful of artists will be able to sustain an entire industry. Have mainstream record executives learned nothing from the downloading debacle that has already brought them to their knees? If the experiences of downloaders tell us anything, it’s that the music business would do well to pay attention to those “modest sellers,” because in the longtail digital economy that is upon us, they are the key to future profitability. Once you remove the constraints of bricks and mortar storage and sales, modest sellers in the aggregate will rival the superstars for market share. And if one of them goes viral, they can make it big without the massive promotional overhead.
Another lesson from recent music industry misfortunes has been the value of touring. What happens in the rarefied atmosphere of superstars doesn’t always give us an accurate picture of what’s going on at street level. Case in point: the January live shows of Lady Gaga and a Latin-pop group many of you have probably never heard of called Aventura in New York City. For all her hype, Gaga performed four shows at the 6,000-seat Radio City Music Hall, while Aventura booked an equal number of dates at the 19,000-seat Madison Square Garden. That puts Aventura in the same league as touring performers like Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Madonna, and Billy Joel. So why is it that that Lady Gaga gets booked on the mainstream talk show circuit, while Aventura, according to Jim Farber of the NY Daily News “has the profile of quickly rejected contestants on ‘American Idol’”? And, when will we get to see Aventura as the opening act on the Grammys?
Simultaneously published on reebee.net.