Re: What sustains a bands popularity
as has been mentioned already - genre has a lot to do with it.
Pop being arguably the most ephemeral genre of them all requires more of a chameleon to keep people on the hook. Hence - an artist like Madonna has maintained an impressive run of long term popularity while many others have shone brightly and then burned out. I guess we could have quite a debate over how much of her success is because of the quality of her work and how much is due to her manipulation of image and playing the game of cultural trendsetter/rule-breaker.
I'm not really a fan of country music, but it does seem to me that some of their artists have been able to maintain their popularity for quite a long time. I know acts like Brooks and Dunn and Brad Paisley having been taking home CMA's for what seems like forever. I guess country music has a certain stable/traditional following that rewards consistency more than other genres. Not to say that there aren't plenty of flash in the pan, next big things that come and go as well, and the trend has probably been that country is losing some of it's traditional constituency as it becomes less distiguishable from pop and rock.
At the same time - how do we distinguish between bands that have long term success, are true to their vision, and remain vital without being kind of a glorified tribute band to themselves?
anyway - just a coupla' thoughts, not sure if I really have a point here
<sorry for posting>
"practice, practice - all things are coming" Sri K. Pattabhi Jois