where do we go from here?
I think that's the only worthwhile question really, and also the one that nobody can quite figure out anywhere right now. As usual the ones reaping the benefits are definitely not the artists, more like ISPs, broadcasters, new media support / hardware providers, etc.
If you dwell on that, it f*cking stinks is what it does. No two ways about it, you create something people love and enjoy, they actually acquire your works, but you don't see the reward, something is skewed, way skewed.
Now keep in mind that I'm only a hobbyist and a newcomer here, I have very little clue when it comes to the inner workings of the music business. All I can offer is a rather global outsider's perspective. I imagine the outlook is grim for someone with the responsibilities of keeping a label afloat or trying to make an honest living solely from their art.
Enough with the pity party, they say every problem is an opportunity in disguise, this one just has a dynamite costume or something.
When it comes to anything even remotely mainstream with enough general appeal to sustain through legal download platforms, touring, merchandise, CDs, etc. I don't think we'll see much of a change anytime soon, as the present situation actually increase their ease of access to their own market share and viral growth works in their favor.
It's when you're on the fringes of that system that things get a little more complicated I think, the number and quality of worthwhile venues are lesser by the minute, physical sales on a steady decrease, digital downloads a negligible source of income, gargantuan flow of newcomers whose work the quality of which is more than debatable (I somewhat include myself in there btw) market share being divided amongst more and more folks every day, revenues still streamed and funneled away from the pockets of creators, etc.
In that sense, I think we're assisting to the decline or maybe the transformation of music as recorded media and its physical supports. Personally I try and look at it in terms of posterity. Once recorded, music has an incredible perennial value and I don't know about you guys but it fills me with hope, it really does. Ok, that last part is besides the point... Anyhow, I view a CD or a digital file of music in very many ways to be similar to a Rembrandt painting or a Sinclair Lewis book. It can be an incredible and moving work of art, but as long as it sits somewhere without anyone interacting with it, it's as devoid of interest as a pebble. (and i LOVE pebbles!
So in a way, file sharing and open access means that for as long as people want to interact with it, recorded music will be alive, and I don't mean that in the strictest business sense, I mean almost organically if that makes sense.
To get back to what I said earlier about 'opportunity', I do think that these new platforms offer an incredible potential for a transformation of music itself as an art form. I think a lot of people are focusing on the fact that a certain way of delivering the art, creating and packaging it is dwindling, meanwhile not for a single second questioning those delivery & creative methods. Especially when it comes to experimental musicians (whatever that means) I see a perfect set of circumstances to review and expand the form itself, not just the content. Make the art itself more alive, not its artifacts. I realize that's fairly vague an explanation here, truth is I have a few projects on the back burner that will expose my views further and I don't wanna undermine it / sell the punch here.
But basically I'm saying that this appraisal of being 'stuck' in a situation that doesn't allow music to thrive is probably bollocks. For as long as creative minds and people of vision partake, the art form will thrive and probably even transcend itself in ways we still barely imagine. That's my positive spin on things for today.