In a post about the folding of hip-hop label Def Jux, journalist/blogger Jeff Weiss notes: "I’m not sure if rap is going through a crisis right now. There is a lot of good music being made, but no one seems to be getting paid. It’s become a favor-based economy where there is no pot of gold in the end and rather, just money selling pot (many of my interviews end with offers. I’m saving names for the book deal)."
Even if he's exaggerating, that is one sad anecdote. I remember gradually realizing, when I was younger and just starting to explore current music outside of the mainstream, that most of the indie musicians I liked probably had to have day jobs. Of course, back then many of those jobs may have involved working at record stores, labels, recording studios, and other places tied to the viability of the music industry. As Weiss says, this doesn't spell the end of music--one thing I do agree with freeloaders about: there is a lot of music out there--but it does signal a coarsening of our culture. We're entering a situation where musicians and many other creative workers can't even earn supplemental income from their work. Of course, we're already in a situation where lots of workers don't have any income at all, and real wages have been in decline since the 1970s--obviously there are systemic problems with the economy and the baffling iteration of capitalism under which we live--but I shudder to imagine a future where very few people can dedicate their lives to making the world more beautiful, wondrous, or strange.