Once upon a time (about 35 years ago), music was accessed often and live, typically at a party at a friend's house, or sometimes at small local clubs. On some summer nights the music was in the parking lot of the local strip mall, where many "battles of the bands" were waged.
This music was rife with the kind of power that comes from direct access. No pirating or paying to download; just live gigs your friends told you about, or you read about on a poster, or you performed; you were there to experience it.
The music was interactive, but old-media interactive. Very local, very grass-roots, and honestly pretty cool. You might have had to pay a cover charge--the bands had to get paid--but not much; and it was usually totally worth it. The bands would give back what they hoped was their friends' and fans' money's worth of raw emotion, and possibly even talent.
If there was a lot of talent, though, things changed. Then came the offers, the hopes, the big money, the recordings. It was cool to hear friends on the radio or their records, but live and local was better. Even though everyone was trying to get their deal and make it big, when it happened the happiness was sometimes short lived. Sadly the music got buried in big business dealings, sold-out song writing, tour buses, substance problems, and far-away, huge stadiums. It was still kind of cool, but not as cool.
Perhaps it is time to rethink the best way to share and sell the fruits of musical inspiration, talent and effort. Perhaps it is time for a new version of the folk art music model, where producers and consumers are often the same people and music is made for the joy of producing and sharing it. Money can still be made--maybe not millions--but the greedy people who were always just in it to get rich might get weeded out.
Perhaps musicians should get back to performing more concerts, handing out fliers, and putting up lots of posters. By all means keep the new media, too; promote websites, sell recordings, get fans to tell their friends. Maybe direct access can help recreate the interactive, connected relationships musicians once had with their listeners.
New media/ music related websites: