I was just having this discussion with master session bass player Mike Chapman this week. Here are some things that came out of that chat as well as discussions I've had with others trying to make sense of this wild-wild-west of an industry right now.
- Music will continue to be made. Where, how and with whom will change, but people's listening ears will always want and need music.
- Free and pirated music is here and will stay problematic. However, music that an artist or label gives away always has a promotional purpose. According to a promotional plan, free music is used to create other income streams such as ticket sales and merchandise as well as to introduce the artist to larger fanbases who end up actually buying music.Therefore, music makers will still be hired and music will still get made.
- Session work from big publishing houses has fallen off. Musicians can no longer depend on most of their work coming from major publishers which have become vulnerable to inefficient business models.
- Major writers may find themselves with more indie cuts and less major windfall radio singles that play for years. New alliances and networking is vital; some of the old contacts are going out of business.
- Many music makers will need to have side businesses, day jobs or other multiple income streams. This does not mean, however, that they have to give up on music. They just have to consider fresh horses and re-think lifestyles and strategies.
- The cautious, safe (boring) music making of recent years needs to become braver, more creative, authentically passionate and experimental. Indie music and niche markets are becoming the new 'major'.
What we must do is stay willing to learn, embrace instead of moan about change and make the most creative music of our lives. Not a bad thing to look forward to, imho.