How do we decide, as a capitalist society, what creative expression is worth? How do we stick a price tag on a painting, an experience, or an object like a urinal that someone (okay, Marcel Duchamp) has declared to be, by virtue of its placement and his intention, art? My distant cousin Harold Shapinsky spent his life holed up in an garret apartment splashing paint on canvas without any support from market forces until he reached 60 years old, at which point he finally broke through. When society told him his paintings were worth something, they confirmed what he himself already knew, but at that point he had spent the bulk of his life struggling; being an unacknowledged artist had defined him from the age of 15.
Reality TV and rock-and-roll are very different genres from highbrow visual art, but they too live and die according to the whims of the market. Slate put up a list recently of what different bands earn for a performance. The results are so disparate as to seem almost random. Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake both make $1 million+ per show, while Ke$ha, despite that dollar sign in her name, tops out at less than a quarter of that. Lorde pulls in slightly more than Ke$ha, and, though Bon Jovi also nabs a cool $1 million, Bob Dylan commands only slightly more than Lorde. Backlash to those sell-out Victoria Secret commercials, perhaps?