Back in the 1950s and 1960s, musicians could make money through regular gigging — and not just mega-rock stars, but everyday musicians. Clubs paid musicians to play every night. Guitarists used to take out bank loans to buy a house with the proven revenues from their musical careers.
The 1950s and 1960s had much better income equality, so people across the board could take out bank loans to buy a house. Those same people could also afford to go to clubs and pay to see musicians who were making money through gigging.
The rise of record company moguls, and then platform distribution moguls, represent the emergence of icons of inequality. The thrust of my argument is that the latter is not worse than the former, but they’re both worse than a more equal marketplace in general, where disposable income to spend on music resides in the hands of a greater number of people. Barring a more equitable distribution of wealth, the best hope for widespread music monetization for all sorts of artists is a wealthy patron granting the means for free distribution, no strings attached. If you’re taking a cut, that’s not you.