I have no doubt musicians will continue to perform throughout the 2010s, but they'll make less and less money from recorded music. The passion to make and sell recorded music is already starting to wane.
Big record labels will be increasingly irrelevant so I wouldn't be surprised if Warner, Universal, Sony/BMG, and EMI eventually merge into one mega-label to sell and license back-catalog music. New music, that's another story. Already established bands, like Radiohead, have already proved the point: they don't need record companies anymore. They can sell their music directly to fans.
But that model won't work for smaller groups. Recorded music for them may survive purely as a promotional tool, as fewer and fewer bands have any expectation of seeing recording as a potential source of income. Buying music, in physical form or by legal download, doesn't seem to have much of a future. So why would a band make an effort to make music people would want to listen to decades from now? The art of making albums--a suite of songs if you will--may become a rare pursuit. … Read more