A little stream of consciousness. A little too 101 for my tastes but it’s interesting.
The issue of this selective marketing is that it tends to funnel the unprofitable market out of the mainstream market. This then has the effect of collecting these scattered people into generalized groups, which then creates new markets which can be marketed to.
This is why we end up with these “unexpected” genres like “alternative rock” and “hipster”. Both of these genres were founded by people who were not popular in many cases did not want to be, but as more and more people became disgusted/dissatisfied with the generic mainstream, the outsider groups’ ranks would swell until a critical mass was reached. After this, the media would then be able to capitalize on the newly formed markets and turn a profit.
The alternative groups will then be appropriated by marketing by the musicians who hired to produce their music. In this way, the media is able to produce alternative music that can be relied upon to appeal to the largest demographic and be the most profitable (IE, generic).
This is why sub genres will lose their edge with successive albums and new bands, because the media has managed to shape the consumer by the products produced which are then consumed. So, alternative groups and mainstream pop are actually both the products of the marketing tactics employed by the media industry leaders. As the alternative market becomes more and more mainstream, they will begin to cater more and more to the generic, non-specific consumer, rather than the esoteric consumer.
The eventual effect will be that the genuine outsiders and “trendsetters” who lead the way for the alternative group will be pushed out by generic stereotypes and will either become proverbial hermits of their particular genre, “sell-out” and learn to benefit from their positions in the new generic subculture or move on to prepare the way for the next “outsider” group.
So, the media is based on the principle of exclusion and inclusion. It creates deliberate gluts of generic product to maximize on sales and then moves onto incorporate and assimilate the outsider groups which are formed in opposition of the generic mainstream.
It would be fully within the media’s abilities to create a balanced, successful market which allowed for and encourage both trendsetters and generic content to coexist, however the media’s marginal lines are set at unrealistic levels to create the ebb and flow that produces high returns as quickly as possible. This model takes advantage of the natural tendency of the “American” culture’s to create cliques of the “in crowd” and the “loser crowd”.
It is a fast and violent system that encourages people to exclude and judge others with the aim of creating volatile class distinctions and ensure that the individual groups have a strong sense of loyalty to their particular culture and tastes. That is terrifying.