If big-time, commercial music can't make a commercial success out of selling recordings, what expectations can we have for music from a commercially negligible genre?
It's no news that there is no really good model for paying for new and experimental music. To some extent, new "classical" or "serious" music has either sought to find advantage in low-verhead niche production or been able to parlay its prestige into a modest bit of piggybacking on the success of more commercially successful musics in rights organizations like GEMA, but the former stream, that fabled "long tail", seems not to have played out as hoped and the latter has seriously declined in the face of stagnant or declining mainstream music revenues. I've written recently about the inherent difficulties with reproducible media as a commodified form of music, (see also this item) and here are a couple of recent items from musicians representing more popular which reinforce this viewpoint.
Here's rock star Prince, in the Mirror:
He explains that he decided the album will be released in CD format only in the Mirror. There'll be no downloads anywhere in the world because of his ongoing battles against internet abuses.
Unlike most other rock stars, he has banned YouTube and iTunes from using any of his music and has even closed down his own official website.
He says: "The internet's completely over. I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it.
"The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.
"They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
Also read this blog item by musical composer Jason Robert Brown, confronting a teenager who wants to download copies of his sheet music for free from a "sharing" site.
We really, urgently, need to find a better model. I often wonder what such a model would look like if we were were able to start from scratch, without the cumbersome institutions (including rights organizations, management, and production firms) and legal framework (copyright laws, in particular) that have, like Topsy, just grewed.