The array of niches is making mass appeal less attractive but much larger. The long tail makes what’s popular even more popular, like an obsession.
Just scan your newsfeed. Everyone is tying in Jay Z, Beyonce, Bieber to one of their stories, hoping to woo a wider audience.
Forcing the conversation around a sly disconnect means that both people that love it and hate it will see it. The publications and celebrities both get richer, leaving limited space for new hyper-mainstream entrants.
On the whole, people gravitate to online tribes. The Internet connects a mass of niches and curators. Styles such as jean shorts and genres such as dub-step now have huge cult followings.
We really don’t even need the mainstream. It’s unnecessary noise acceptable only to people that don't know any better. A online niche is a massive craze within itself.