My stance is this: The modern music industry will soon be dead. The internet will hurt it (and seriously hurt it) but mostly it will eat itself via lawyers. The music industry is currently sowing up all possible tunes FROM ALL TIME, FOR ALL TIME. The Kookaburra versus the Down Under case is an excellent example.
The tune was written in the 1930s. The author never attempted to profit from the tune and gave away the rights at death for free. Yet eighty years later, Men at Work have to pay because the tunes are similar.
In the near future, industry lawyers will simply feed every new song through a Shazam-like (http://www.shazam.com/) program. Not for an exact copy, but for a near matche and then sue for copyright breach. Not only will new artists struggle to make sales (because the internet solves the supply & distribution stranglehold of the music industry – via piracy) but any sales they do make, at least 40% to 100% of sales will need to be paid to a third-party. So while the industry still actively resists the internet and by protecting their current revenue stream, they kill their future.
By failing to recognise in the 1980s that artists from the sixties and seventies also owed a great deal to past musicians and suing for copyright when their work was “sampled” by the emerging rap scene in the US, they made a strategic error. By attacking a seemingly minority music genre it seemed a surefire way to generate more money for themselves and the artists they represented. However, it grew into a monster- one that they can’t back away from now – not while the internet is aggressively attacking traditional revenue.
When a shift in society occurs, the old model always falls away before a new model establishes itself. My utopia involves people making their own music. As no one will publish for fear of a lawsuit, talented musicians will need to tour to make money. As no new legitimate music will be available in households, households will create their own music.
The modern music industry will soon die. Ukuleles will rule the world.