Gaitherizing, again (I of II)

Occasionally new readers stumble onto the site and push their way through the archives, finding something to comment on. One such reader recently did just that, writing to offer an example that perfectly illustrates what I mean when I talk about the inadvertently negative effects of Gaitherization on sg. To translate it in to some version of a clich├ęd metaphor, it goes something like this: a rising tide (Gaither’s Homecoming Series) lifts the dinghies and claptrap sail boats (mediocre acts with Gaither connections) without doing much for the oceanliners and big ships (the Stars who were established long before Gaither). Here’s what I mean (with some help on the details from my new correspondent): instead of the stupid amounts of exposure helping some high-end performers and groups who regularly appear on Gaither’s videos, the exposure can, as my correspondent points out, really put a dent in the honoraria for the bonafide stars in their own right, to such an extent that some of them may even downplay their Gaither connections at times in order not to have to cut their rates for non-Gaither gigs. Why? Not because Gaitherization directly devalues the existing stars, but because it makes instant stars (and so, competitors) out of a whole crop of less expensive (and usually less talented) acts who would, without Gaither, have otherwise remained way below the sight lines of most promoters looking to book a date. That’s Gaitherization at work: Gaither takes several discrete acts and performers who would normally sink or swim on their own merits and, by virtue of having them on his roadshow, creates a kind of Ponderosa buffet of variously priced menu options under the heading of Homecoming Also Rans. It’s not just that he’s improving the prospects of a bunch of lower-tiered performers (not a bad thing on its own, of course). It’s that his gravitational field exerts its own kind of force on the sg market far beyond the Homecoming studios and concerts. That doesn’t mean the sg market has stopped valuing and devaluing solo and group acts based on talent, sales, and star power independent of Gaither. That all still happens. But Gaither’s brand name has thrown a kind of monkey wrench into the regular process of sg market valuation, so that a call from Big Bill may not always be the blessing you might think, especially if you’ve spent years building your name and your own brand. The real market value (by which I mean the price an act can charge for flat-fee services) has not changed much for those lower-rung or fading-star performers. But their name-recognition has shot way up, which makes them, for a certain kind of promoter, very attractive.

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