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The Mysterious Shine of Twilight Pop Stars

The same commenter notes that Lionel Richie has released seven albums since the last time he hit the upper reaches of Billboard charts with material from a 1992 compilation album. That compilation came a full six years after his peak with the hit-filled Dancin' on the Ceiling. His latest album, last year's country-flavored Tuskegee, hit the top of the Billboard album charts, went platinum and gave Richie some country cred with help from a Shania Twain duet of Endless Love and collaboration with acts like Little Big Town and Rasmus Seebach.

So how does, say, The Steve Miller Band, put out two albums of new music since 2010 and tour arenas when most fans and college students stopped listening after reselling their copy of Greatest Hits: 1974-78? How did Pat Benatar release Go in 2003 and tour as a double-bill with longtime bandmate and husband Neal Giraldo with anybody but the most obsessed fans knowing about either Go or Giraldo? How does my cousin not only know about Dogs Eye View's 2006 album Tomorrow Always Comes, but is convinced that it just might be better than its 1995 debut album Happy Nowhere that produced the band's only hit single, "Everything Falls Apart?"

To beat the living snot out of an old cliché, the music world is changing. Let's just state the obvious and say that digital music has made it a whole lot easier to follow musicians, form communities around them, give them money on Kickstarter and treat every one of their tour dates like a microcosm of a Deadhead reunion.

The not-so -bvious part about that little revolt is that it's also made it a whole lot easier for those faded artists to sneak some new music to their fans when regular radio keeps it off the playlist. Create a station based on, say, Pat Benatar's "Shadows Of The Night" on Pandora (P) and you're likely to get a few tracks from those post-fame albums in the 1990s and 2000s added to the mix. Play some Steve Miller on iTunes (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Spotify, Slacker Radio, Last FM, etc., and you stand a good chance of having the new albums recommended to you.

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