On the Death of Really Big Shows

A Lamentation from Music’s Digital Age

This is an old story: four guys from Liverpool play roughly 10,000 hours of music together, record with a major record label, debut across the Atlantic on a TV show watched by most Americans, and enter history as (arguably) the most influential bands in world history.

This is a story we won’t see re-lived for quite some time. Not because those four guys worked harder or played longer or sounded better or made superior connections or launched smarter than any of today’s artists. We won’t hear this story repeated for a long time because production and distribution have been so radically democratized that any four guys (or girls) can afford to do and be and produce music every bit as visionary without ever setting foot on a stage as large as the Ed Sullivan show.

Because the internet gives everyone nearly anything they want whenever they want it. Because now we don’t have to be patient or attentive. Because we don’t have to tune in Sunday nights at 8:00pm Eastern Time to see that live performance everyone will talk about Monday, that live performance that will ferment behind the eyes and between the ears into intoxicating nostalgia, that live performance that cannot be rewound or DVRed or streamed for those who missed it the first go round.

New artists won’t live the old story. They won’t conquer the world and leave a legacy others will lean on for generations. Because our memories pass in babbling streams of zeros and ones. Because we have too many memories to linger on any one for long. Because there’s no world to conquer.

Just wandering tribes.