According to data featured on Boing Boing, record labels are dying at the same time as musicians are doing better than ever on account of live performances. To a large extent, this must represent the impact of technology on the industry, particularly the internet and file sharing.
Morally and aesthetically, it is difficult to know how to feel about this. In recent decades, recorded studio music has been the major product of the music industry. More and more, that is now being acquired either free or with low margins for producers. Live music has the virtue of being irreplaceable, but the shift in that direction raises questions about where the moral and aesthetic value of music lies.
Personally, I think music studios have alienated the general public to the point that they deserve whatever financial misfortune they encounter. When it comes to musicians, the situation seems more complex. Is it right to keep rewarding someone (and often their heirs) for a song recorded at some point in time, or is it preferable to reward individual performances? Pragmatically, the options available are constrained. That said, there is a case to be made that music that produces a steady stream of enjoyment should produce a stream of revenue for the people who made it.
What do others think?