About a year ago, Mashable posted the Infographic below. I'll explain what it is, then you can have a look at it. It outlines how digital music has affected the music industry's profit models. With the advent of streaming services becoming more and more prevalent in our worlds and lives, you can quickly see how many times an artist has to have their song aired on a streaming service to make minimum wage ($1160 a month).
However, it is a bit of a loaded graphic because EVERYONE knows that artists don't make their money from album sales, they make it from touring and getting other artists to sing their songs (royalties is where the money is).
Another point to throw out as well: is the invention of home recording software making it easier and easier for artists to create their own work and sell it? Are independent artists able to market themselves like record companies can market? Can streaming music services like Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, and Mog help do some of marketing for an independent artist? You can probably answer all of these yourself. You will probably notice that these answers don't really correspond or get along with each other.
I think the bottom line is this: while record companies have been getting rich off of artists' talent for years because they were willing to risk the capital up front, they have been unable to continue on that profit path because the original Napster and other P2P networks came through and made it incredibly easy to steal (I have argued before that this might be because the record companies failed to innovate). Trying to find a way to fix this, companies that didn't care about the profitability of the record companies (like iTunes by Apple) came through and figured out a way to do this digital download stuff legally.
Record companies lost out. Because of that, artists lost out. And because those responsible for the content creation have let others innovate for them, they've lost even more.
Friends, it is time for the music industry to innovate with new models THAT THEY CONTROL of profit gain so that they can be sustainable. If this doesn't happen soon, the whole industry might close up shop.