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Today's music industry

Just wondering what people think of the state of today's music industry. In an age where a lot of people would never pay for recorded music how are artists expected to make a living? Yes, they can tour, but what about the time, effort and imagination which goes into creating an album or even a song? Perhaps it's a good thing that a single can be obtained with a couple of clicks and costs less than a pound, but what have we lost?

Top of the Pops used to be an institution and now there is very little live music on television at all. Jools Holland does his best and there is decent coverage of Glastonbury once a year, but most video channels seem devoid of personality as does much of the music.

Yes, maybe it's me that's getting old and modern music is as good as it's ever been, but I don't think pop music is. In the 80s and 90s when I was growing up, a lot of very talented artists and bands also sold a bunchload of singles and had chart success. With the exception of a few well known bands like Coldplay, most rock or indie music doesn't trouble the charts at all.

There is still a lot of great music being made all the time, Radio 6 is evidence of that, but a lot of this will only be bought by a few aficionados or simply be streamed on Deezer or Spotify with little financial benefit for the artists. The festival circuit does seem bigger than ever with more and more boutique festivals popping up every year, which ought to be encouraging. But I do suspect that the whole summer festival season is just a way for a lot of bands to make a living going from one to another like a Medieval Passion play troupe. Yes, they get to play live to a willing crowd, but how many of these bands have a big enough loyal following to not rely on festivals and get by just touring as a headline act?

Has reality TV been a big factor? Do musicians today expect to be crafted and manufactured by a svengali like Simon Cowell? But just how many acts have had success following a win on X Factor or The Voice? It seems the majority of past winners have passed effortlessly into obscurity. Again, is this a good thing and does that mean that the public really want authentic artists who create their own material?

What is the answer? Will physical records survive much longer? Yes, vinyl has had a resurgence in popularity, but this is for a very niche market and sales are still relatively low. How much longer do CDs have, if modern music players don't even have a CD deck? Will they go the way of the cassette? Even the ipod went from groundbreaking technology to obsolescence in the space of a decade.

How do people consume music these days? Do you still buy physical records in CD or vinyl form, do you legally download songs or do you expect all your music for free? Is streaming via smartphones the future of portable music? Or is music simply less important than it used to be? NME is now a free flimsy giveaway magazine when it used to be the Bible for adolescent musos. Personally I miss Melody Maker. Please do contribute to the debate, I'd like to hear what people think about this.