Thursday, June 02, 2011

GaGa? More like MehMeh, says Lefsetz

Bob Lefsetz has an interesting take on the smidge-over-a-million that GaGa sold:

Yes, by conventional SoundScan standards a tick over a million copies in a week is a significant sum.

But is there anybody in the U.S. who did not know GaGa had a new album out? Was there a problem finding a place to buy it?

What we’ve learned here is most people just don’t care. They don’t want GaGa at any price.
He reckons the problem is that there's no longer a mainstream; that once GaGa had sold to her sizeable fanbase, there isn't anyone who is that bothered.
Oh, the mainstream media tells us Lady GaGa is a superstar. But she’s not, not by the standards of yore. How many people actually went to her show? How many people have purchased her music? If she were a network TV show, they’d cancel her. And network TV shows have a fraction of the audience they once had. Three networks used to have 90% of the audience. Now four and a half networks have less than 30%. The rest is made up of endless cable channels, endless niches. Many of them quite profitable, in some cases more profitable than the networks, because costs are watched and a premium is charged for their audience.

In other words, maybe you can’t afford to spend so much making your album. And if you’ve got hard core fans you can get a lot of money from them. That’s the game.
There's a thread missing from his argument, though - that a lot of people who lap up Lady GaGa don't react to her as a musician. Lady GaGa is the Sarah Palin of politics - a lot of people will come and look, and enjoy the sideshow, and either enjoy the meat dresses and moose shoots, or enjoy not liking them; but the fascination is one of watching a sideshow. Enjoying reading about GaGa wearing a hat made of seashells doesn't mean you're going to buy her record, any more than those people who enjoy Palin's disruption of Republican politics would actually want her to be signing the budget off in the White House.