Popular makes a lot of money because you have more people agreeing that something is good.
But, does "popular" mean that something is actually good?
Well, it certainly doesn't mean it is bad. It just means that a lot of people agree on something. It may or may not have merit.
When we look at the world of music then you get the people who make mega-millions...now billions with their music. Which means, companies are making even more with their music. I'm not going to say that popular music/art isn't as good as music that isn't as popular because that would be disrespectful of those who have made the big haul. But, what I am saying is that most people buy the thing that is on the surface more immediately appealing than they do surfing below the surface to find the depth in things.
Great art is not always easy to see or hear. Popular art however is. So artistic success in many people's eyes is measured by the millions of dollars someone makes instead of on actual merit. But, one doesn't necessarily mean the other isn't possible.
It all takes a lot of work. Coming up with a poem is difficult. Coming up with melody and harmonies is also difficult. Coming up with both is really an accomplishment and the scale of it doesn't really matter. Popular material is based on whether people "like" it, and elite material is based on whether people understand it.
So there is the surface superficiality and then there is the deeper foundational structure that gives the work the capability to endure over time. It is a lot of work just to create a "Simple Love Song" that people like. How much more difficult and rewarding is it to compose a symphony? That is next to impossible especially if you ever want to hear something you wrote played in your lifetime. So, a composer on the scale of Beethoven should be able to write a popular diddy, which he did, of course. But, he never wrote with popularism in mind.
During my lifetime the popular musicians are people like McCartney and Lennon, Elton John, Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, Madonna, Sting, Michael Jackson, Prince, Drake, Kanye West, Beyonce, and so on. You really don't make the big bucks unless you own the copyright to your own songs. Covering doesn't get you there. To have a cult following because of your music is one of the most incredible things about music.
But nothing will go anywhere unless you do it. It takes years of doing and there is little more than that which is the road to 'success'.
I wonder how much music AI will create going forward? That is disturbing. Because, a machine doesn't care about anything. It i a souless medium.
Long live creativity in humans.