It's all local now

You guys and gals tell me? How could the Beatles exist now? Or really any of the hundred or so bands that made it fairly big in the 60's and 70's? How does anyone make it big anymore? In the past an artist would get on the radio, sell a whole bunch of albums and go on tour to make it big. Now, because there is really no record company push/ads to sell an artist, how the hell does any artist get big? So, since a band or artist can't rely on album sales or their record company to become popular or to finance their tour how do they become popular or world famous? Isn't it the end of big time world famous rock stars? No more stadium or maybe even arena tours of big bands. Really, your looking at local bands playing live at local clubs. Yes, the absolute best will play be able to play big clubs or college halls around the country or even overseas. But, to me, the sad fact is young folks no longer will have their musical hero's like we did and be able to listen to them in ultimate sound in a big concert setting. Tell me how I'm wrong?
If I remember correctly The Beatles started in 1962 but got really popular in 1964. Last concert was two years later and since then the best material was released in the studio only - no chance to listen to most of great records at the concert (starting with Sgt. Pepper). Rolling Stones, on the other hand, have been giving concerts for almost 50 years but they play only in large venues and not the local clubs.

Today, celebrity status becomes more important than music, with lip-syncing, synchronized dancing and effects. Most of the performers don't write their songs. I remember three girls, that won some amateur singing contest, when asked what they going to do with the money answered - to buy new dresses because their success depends on good looks (and not the singing lessons!). They were perhaps right.
American Idol, X-Factor, America's Got Talent, Brian Epstein, George Martin.
Reality/talent search type shows and Disney channel apparently have the inside track on making new stars that appeal to the young.

KElly Clarkson was a good find.

But Taylor Hicks? Really? Really?

Miley Cyrus? Talent, but eh....

Selena Gomez? J'lo? Ahem.......

I liked Scotty last year on AI too but not a huge modern country fan his first album was way too predictable and cookie cutter for me.

Times change. Maybe the new Beatles will still pop up somewhere someday somehow. I think the pop culture world is a lot more diverse these days so any single act will have a challenge attaining the levels of popularity and success long term that the Beatles have. Those that reach the pinnacles of popularity these days are so generic though that I suspect they will have difficulty retaining popularity over time aka The BEatles.

Maybe the days of super mega pop stars that also break new ground continually during their lifetime are gone.

I find I like a lot of new music these days however there is such diversity that no single artist or artists retain a major % of my music playtime to any extent similar to the past for me where I tended to levitate more towards certain acts. Its all good.

As long as there is always something new and interesting to listen to, who cares who the artist is really?
The truth to say is that it's not that popular anymore. Indeed the rock consert season is very poor later years. ACDC used to bring large events to our towns so is Rolling Stones, Zeppelin... Who's there now? Is there anybody ...Out-there?

In the 50s/60s, the radio set up the tour, the tour set up the record, the record was the money as you say. Now its reversed. Artists make all a their revenue from tours set up by some vehicle to get them known.

A strong record (Train, Dave Mathews, Death Cab) got them going (zero airplay, no big TV appearances)

A TV show (think Apprentice/Idol) got Trace Atkins back on the road, and revitalized the careers of quite a few like Jennifer Lopez.

DIsney Channel-Miley Cyrus

The classic talent contest Idol built Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, etc

There is others yet doing OK from You Tube (and Twitter and other vehicles.

All a set up the ticket sales for the tour.

Probably true that Rock music as many knew it over the last half century has run its course and is mostly dead as a major cultural force. Not a bad run really.....

The good news is its still not totally dead and things have evolved in many directions over the last 10-20 years or so.

I've embraced a lot of genres and music of late that I never payed much attention to prior. I'm finding that you almost have to ignore genre with music these days in order to find the gems. There is so much integration and cross breeding of genres these days, including all that gets categorized broadly as "world music", that the traditional major music genres do not serve nearly as much useful purpose these days.
I think The Beatles would do just fine now.

Greatness transcends most obstacles.

And it's really unfair to compare them to any other band past or present.

RIght now it seems that the superstars are coming more from hip-hop. Kanye West, Jay-Z, & Eminem come to mind.

Nobody now cares about musician's creativity, skills required for rock. Synth and sampler is enough for hip-hop and so be it.

This season I haven't seen King Crimson or its members, Jethro Tull, Brian Ferry, Mark Knophler even no Steely Dan that you can usually see in the concert venues... Rock of 70's, 80's had been still strong upto end of first decade of 2000's or upto let's say this poor season. Hope for better one next year.

So folks, enjoy the recorded media instead.
I think you're wrong in thinking the end all be all way to see a band is in a huge stadium. Those have been the worst shows ive ever been to. I remember seeing pink Floyd about 20 years ago and you could see the drummer hit the drum and then 1/2 second later hear the sound lol. I have never heard good sound in a huge stadium and it would take a lot to get me back. If you ever got to see a big band before they were big in a small club you are usually considered lucky. I for one could care less if any one band gets huge. I like the gigantic variety of music available these days just goes to show what a big world we live in.
Big blockbuster stadium shows have improved over the years along with the facilities they occur in but are still generally the worst way to really experience live music.

In general, the smaller the venue the better.
Big blockbuster stadiums? Not even a broadway venue size nowdays.
Smaller night venues are being closed going out of business. Sad that music looses its meaning in second decade of 21st century.
Well, my point was that it is mostly local now. of course a small venue is best. There certainly are great musicians and bands out there. I don't regard the artists who the teenyboppers buy into for a year or two then we never hear about them again as real or great musicians. For sure, I love going to small local venues and seeing great local artists. Some better than the big names I used to see. So, not so bad I guess, as much as different.
One other plus sign I guess about the music business today at least for people who love music. Only musicians who really love music and love to play it are really out there now. You can't be in it because you really expect fame or fortune.
"You can't be in it because you really expect fame or fortune"

With exceptions: Rolling Stones made $558 million between 2005 and 2007 on "Bigger Bang" tour. Previous "Forty Licks" tour brought them $200 million. They love to play, I'm sure, but $758 million doesn't hurt either.
we all live our lives in a certain window of time. Sooner or later that window closes. I was lucky to be a young teenager when the great rock bands and motown were at their peak. Jazz also (be-bop). The people before and after that window had and will have their own windows. However our window was special, look how often that music is still used in movies and TV shows. Esp when PBS is having pledge week. :)
Rok2id - Yes, it was special. Young daughter of my friend said to me "you guys were lucky to live in times of all these great bands".
So many factors to this discussion. The market splintering onto hundreds of sub genres, that are not just local... Social media as ways for artists to promote themselves in ways that never before existed.

Bands being able to sell merch directly from their sites. (They Might Be Giants makes millions directly from their site - Thomas Dolby announces a new downloadable EP and sells many in 24hrs, keeping a much higher profit margin then when he was on a label)

That being said, I believe much of todays music is meant to be disposable. Many pop/rock artists influence is other other 80's bands. The great artists of the 60/70's were often influenced (or outright stole) earlier forms of music that were purer in genre and rooted in tradition.

But on the fringe is so much good music from many genres. Here in NYC there are many really good eclectic acts.

This is what the music scene has evolved to, but the good part is that culture accrues, so we always can go backwards. I was just playing some 1949 Django Reinhardt yesterday, and some of the cuts even sound pretty good)

I believe as the culture begins to become acclimated to paying for content, and perhaps some DRM., other licensing schemes or the ability to close pirate sites (that is being debated in Congress right now and while the proposals go too far, perhaps a realistic one function properly) that artists will be able to make a living off their music and movies.

But to answer your original point, The Renaissance only lasted so long, and perhaps yes, ours is over. The last episodes of Mash and All in the Family were watched by a huge percentage of the American audience, all in one night. No shows get that market share any more....
It is very very difficult to make a lot of money in music today, in hi fi, in pro audio, in mixing, mastering or recording. Its become what it was before, a labor of love I think.