As a guitarist and a professor at the Berklee College of Music, I’ve watched in awe as the Internet has reshaped how we create, distribute, and connect with music. In many ways, this has been an incredible boon to artists and fans — putting virtually all music ever recorded at our fingertips (or at least on our smartphones) and connecting music makers with music lovers in a thousand and one new ways. But it’s also created new challenges, particularly as streaming and single song downloads crowd out album sales, where artists have traditionally earned most of their pay. I know I should be overjoyed at the vast new opportunities available to my students, but instead, I am anxious for their future.
It’s not that I expect them all to become “stars.” In fact, I am happy when my students can make a decent living doing what they have trained for years to do, making music. Unfortunately, the very technology that is allowing them to get their music to their fans has also made it more difficult for them to make a living from it.