According to the O.E.S., songwriters and music directors saw their average income rise by nearly 60 percent since 1999. The census version of the story, which includes self-employed musicians, is less stellar: In 2012, musical groups and artists reported only 25 percent more in revenue than they did in 2002, which is basically treading water when you factor in inflation. And yet collectively, the figures seem to suggest that music, the creative field that has been most threatened by technological change, has become more profitable in the post-Napster era — not for the music industry, of course, but for musicians themselves.
That is from Steven Johnson, the piece is excellent throughout. And note this:
The new environment may well select for artists who are particularly adept at inventing new career paths rather than single-mindedly focusing on their craft.