Here is a very simple premise:

At grass roots it is next to impossible, even for credible bands and artists with genuine potential to generate any income. Wherever you look, acts are falling over themselves to perform for nothing or peanuts - an arrangement which suits venues and promoters, because what they are servicing is not demand for music, but demand from musicians to be heard. The net result is a marketplace which is completely saturated, with any notion of normal market conditions completely warped and distorted. There is no barrier to entry, it is quite literally a free for all.

Here in the UK - and a lot of other countries, there is a minimum wage. The question is, should it be applied to all musicians performing in licensed premises, so they are at very least paid from load in to load out? I would speculate that this would have the effect of exerting something closer to normal market conditions.

Venues which exist principally to exploit the unending stream of acts who will play for nothing, while bringing fans (i.e friends and family) to buy alcohol and/or tickets, will exit the market - it will simply not be profitable to put on the standard meat-grinder 4 bands a night.

Those venues that remain will have to compete with each other, requiring a much higher level of commitment - active talent spotting to find better acts, better stage shows, sound, lights, promotion and marketing - which can only be good for musicians.

With less venues, it will become much, much harder to get gigs. Acts will have to genuinely compete, meaning more time writing, rehearsing and developing their music, recording standout demos; and of course many simply won't make the grade - some acts will never get to gig outside of community centres or house shows.

It will also protect nascent local/regional music markets by reducing the flow of small scale touring acts - the system where local bands sell gig tickets, effectively to pay for a headliner will shrink significantly, making it harder for labels with national and international reach to package acts off on unmerited and pointless tours which would otherwise run at a catastrophic loss.

Those that do break through will have scope to develop careers based on the solid foundations of a local and regional market, exposed to an audience which genuinely seeks out new music - not just family and friends who'll come along to support new acts for as long as it has novelty value.

Those that progress beyond their local/regional market, be it independently, or with the support of a label will be responding to real demand for their music.

The bottom line is creating a barrier to entry, not just for musicians, but also venues and promoters, by ensuring that the people who create and perform the music are always paid: that their effort has tangible and inescapable £$€ value.

Right now, there is a big bubble of wealth at the top of the industry, a shrinking middle class floundering in an over-saturated, hyper competitive marketplace, and a vast sea of hopefuls making nothing, but utterly distorting the marketplace for music and quite possibly obscuring the next generation of artistically/commercially worthwhile acts. There is no point waiting for the fortunes of the majors and big indies to improve so we can get back to trickle down business as usual economics. Change has to start at the grass roots with application of normal rules of supply and demand: if you play, you get paid.

Eye Dog Eye Records