How the Artist Became the Enemy of the Music Industry (TuneCorner)

Having read these and other recent articles on the state of the music industry, here are some angles I have compiled which make the above statement seem foreboding. What are your thoughts, agree or disagree, and do you have success stories to share that defies these observations?

Music is a sunset industry because...

1) It is fast becoming one that is a non "professional" industry. An industry is only professional when there is a high-enough entry-level skill-set required. For example, if one day, through availabilty of information or some technological advancement (like robots or intelligent machines), everyone is able to make pastries that people would pay to consume, pastry making will be no longer be a professional industry. In a non-professional industry, skill level no longer commands a price premium because there is no longer a significantly discernible difference between how a pastry baked by a trained patissier tastes different from one baked by a non-trained amateur's robot. The existing industry self-destructs subsequently because less and less people train to become patissiers and the standard of pastry making becomes leveled across the board. An example of an existing non-professional industry would be the cleaning industry.

2) Successful promotion relies more and more on novelty. Lack of attention span, clutter, info overload - all these makes bygone the era when all it took to promote records besides touring was to put money to pump it to radio and make a good music video. One can argue "oh all it takes is creativity to break through the clutter!". If you can put a funny video on Youtube and get 1 miillion views, everyone else will try it as well (because it doesn't cost much to do it). Then the novelty is destroyed. What's next? Climb a building and unfurl a banner to promote your album (like the French spiderman)? How many novelties can artists create - the number is definitely not infinite. And novelty is about the only thing that interests people enough to view your content nowadays. If it has been done before you can fuggedaboudit.

3) Its consumers have become its creators as well. And it is not like in a good way, e.g. in a certain part of the classical music era, people commonly bought scores and have a piano in their house. They partake in music making, though it is not strictly creation and it's strictly for personal entertainment. Now, the stereotypical bedroom musician or band in your neighbourhood whose guitarists can only play 3 chords can too upload their music online and sell it. It would be all good if only there is a efficient system of filtering music quality for the music consumer, but who's to define what is "music quality"?. Therefore the world is flooding with music by hobbyists, and that is hindering music consumers from music made by skilled musicians out there. Not only that, people who have the money or skills to spot talent and invest in them have trouble finding the gems out there.

4) The consumer's taste is highly fragmented, partly due to virtually limitless choice. Meaning, if you search for Punk, you may get retro-punk, death-punk, red-haired punk, screamo punk, not so emo punk - you get the picture - there are more genre-labels than actual differences in the sub-genres. Music services like Tunecore say there is more music being consumed or bought than ever in history. That is true, but if viewed from a perspective of a musician trying to make a living from his music, what is it in for him? You can tell him indie artists sold X million dollars worth of downloads in the past year, and on the average each consumer spent Y dollars more on buying music downloads than the previous year, but this artist only knows he sold $18 worth of downloads. Because of fragmentation, each piece of the pie in Chris Anderson's long tail is too small to even put food on the table for an artist.

5) The value of digital media is approaching zero, there's no longer scarcity, in economic terms. Discussed in great length in the past years. If people are not willing to pay for music, then no one can survive creating it professionally. Some say find other ways to monetize, like let advertisers have to pay for it. But no successful ad supported services survived or is successfully ubiquitous in all regions of the world, at least as of now.

6) The digital lifestyle era led to consumers having much more entertainment options and thus less of their time is spent on consuming music. This point is self-explanatory and largely proven true.

7) Revenue windows are lacking, when compared to movie-making. For movies, audiences still pay to watch them in theatres first (because it is a communal experience, and also it is largely affordable). Then subsequently there's the DVD release, rental, licensing to overseas TV networks, merchandising etc. There are only two forms of selling for music - recorded and live. Music downloads is not even selling fast enough, and would anyone pay to listen to an upstart talented band that they have never heard of? And how many new bands actually have the resources to sell shows on their own? How much would music fans pay to watch you live, more or less than a movie ticket?

8) The businesses that make up the industry are feeding on the industry itself, instead of growing it. Music schools are still selling courses on audio engineering (when soon there will be no purpose built studios left) and music business (when there will soon be no music business to speak of); gear and plugin manufacturers are profiting from making "feel-good" products meant for amateurs who have yet to develop skills to discern good or bad sounding tools; studios (out of survival) are undercutting each other and recording bands who obviously can't play and making them sound good artificially with drum replacement and autotune; stores like iTunes store and Nokia music are actually feeding the sale of their hardware products; music software makers are increasingly developing tools that will one day allow anyone to make music automatically with a touch on their screens...does any of these actually help create a future pool of real musicians that will beget an industry that is financially self-sustaining?