In Malcolm Gladwell's new book "Outliers: The Story of Success", he states that there's no such thing as a true genius and that any complex task can be mastered after 10,000 hours of repetition or rehearsal. If that's true, then the music industry is truly in trouble.
Back in the 50's, 60's and 70's when clubs were everywhere, musicians had the opportunity to learn and master their craft both as players and entertainers thanks to the abundance of available work. As I stated in a previous post, with the DUI laws that came into effect in the 1980's, the number of clubs were players could hone their craft dropped by a huge amount (as much as 85% by some estimates).
As we look back on the 50's through 70's, it seems to be a true "Golden Era" of music in general (for all music, not only for Rock). Is it a coincidence that there were more clubs during that era? It sure doesn't look like it and plays into Gladwell's 10,000 hour concept. The more time you spend on any task, the more likely your skill level goes from merely good to great.
Now with the tough economic times we live in, the number of venues available to musicians will no doubt decrease. You can still get your 10,000 hours of playing in your bedroom, but true music genius still requires interaction with others to be truly great.
Gladwell also states that when and where you were born has a tremendous effect on your "genius", maybe as much as the 10,000 hours, and this is probably true as well. If you create or participate in a new sub-genre of music, chances are that you'll need far less than 10,000 hours to rise to the top of the genre. But for world-class competence that borders on or is considered "genius", the 10,000 hour goal (or even more) appears to always apply. Woodshed anyone?