The Casbah, San Diego, CA.
The Echo, Los Angeles, CA.
The impact of digital technology on the production and distribution of popular music can be described properly with the economic term "commoditization," (vs. commodification which is a Marxist term) This means that in the economic endeavor of the production and distribution of popular music:
transformation of the market to undifferentiated products through increased competition, typically resulting in decreasing prices. While in economic terms, commoditization is closely related to and often follows from the stage when a market changes from one of monopolistic competition to one of perfect competition, a product essentially becomes a commodity when customers perceive little or no value difference between brands or versions.
This definition 100% describes what happened to the popular music between the Mid 1990s, when the sale of physical format music was at an all time high, and today, when technology has made all music accessible everywhere for free.
From an economic perspective, the winners of a commoditization event in a specific market are always going to be the same people:
1) the end consumer, who gets a previously expensive good for less.
2) low cost producers.
Losers are always going to be the same people:
1) highly paid workers in the "before" market
2) high cost producers.
Viewed from this position, the "solution" to the lower value/commoditization process is simple: produce popular music at a LOWER COST and control more of the resulting revenue. Other solutions are simply mirroring solutions before the commoditization event: major label deals, stadium tours, network televisin appearances, wide spread physical distribution, and trying to be one of the small amount of people who can continue to profit in a vastly diminished environment in a kind of "last dinosaur" fashion.
For new players, trying to ape the old model is as ridiculous as a monkey imitating a dinosaur.
This is why my idea for the future with the Artists I work with in the field of production of popular music is to limit the producer/distribution players to a bare minimum- fewer band members, fewer producers, no label employees, and then maximize the revenue obtainable in that limited universe without disrupting a core group of repeat players.
This is a viable way to keep costs low, and also control production AND distribution. Any other model is madness and doomed to failure.