In my (humble) opinion, the music industry as a whole is reasonably healthy, given our current economic situation. The trends I've been observing for a while now are holding consistent. Popular music is once again leading back to an age of 'bands' rather than solo singer acts and Top40 chauvinistic ideals... calm yourself.. I could hear you squee from here. Don't get too excited just yet. That 'kind' of Pop music certainly is not going away, the focus is just being shifted a little.
I drive a Prius. Not because of some environmental hippy thing, but financially its great on gas, compact and holds a ton of gear. It also has this new fandangled invention people like to call Satelite radio (ooooo .. ahhhh). I find Satelite radio to be extremely enlightening because it almost fortells the future. There's a channel called Alt.Nation (XM 36). Love listening to that station for more than a few reasons. The first being that they're a station out of New York that has their ears to the ground on new and exciting Alt Rock/Pop bands and groups/artsts. Their entire lives seems to revolve around being 'in the know', which is perfect for someone like me. When you start really paying attention you notice some consistent outcomes after a while. And here's the second reason I love it so much: 'Alternative Rock stations are becoming Top40 charting stations'.
Bands like Imagine Dragons, Fun., Lorde, Capital Cities, American Authors, Foster the People, and Atlas Genuis, to humbley name a few, all had major success on this station with their leading single nearly SIX MONTHS BEFORE ANY OTHER MAJOR RADIO STATION. This trend is astounding. Its like being able to tell the future. You think the industry hasn't picked up on this? Do you think record labels aren't using Satelite radio and Internet radio stations (with significant listenership) as testing grounds for their next big artist? You're crazy if you do. Its so apparent its like being kicked in the balls and being given a cue card with the winning lotto numbers on it while you're on the ground. Painfully obvious. *snicker*
So the good part is that these aforementioned bands are making headway in charting music, writing and producing songs that are not only competing with the likes of Jay Z, Pitbull, Rhianna, and Eminem, but are beating some of them out when it comes to the national popularity contests (Grammy's). How'd they do that? Well, this is the less than positive side, for the most part these bands has incorporated a LOT of the production used in Top40 Pop music of the last five years.
Alt. Rock has become the new defining genre by using Dub Step synth sounds, looped drums and samples, reverse cymbal clichés and auto-tune inflections to create something familiar to a larger populous. That's not easy to do. For example, "My Song Knows What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)" by Fallout Boy (which also should've won the award for longest song title ever outside of Disney) was a massive hit for them, but fell short of rehashing their careers like they had hoped. It has all the big stuff, all the big hooks and standard production, but just didn't last more than a few months and they had nothing to follow it up with. By contrast, Imagine Dragons are one of the largest bands touring right now releasing single after single, hit after hit, making the charts in significant ways and in the Top 10 with the likes of Bruno Mars (who also rocks my world). In the grand scheme of things they're not so much better than Fallout Boy in that they use a lot of the same typically tricks, but focus more on writing a great song with those production qualities rather than the song being mostly about the tricks. Alt. Rock, once a music of the 'people' and hipster wanna-be's alike, has now become the trending feature of Pop music. Who knew?
Now, this doesn't change the fact that musicians, especially here in Canada, are starving for attention and support. In a time when getting 40 people to the club you're playing on a Thursday night is considered to be a "Good" turn out, where even Friday's are considered the off night to go out so musicians can't find a gig because the bar will only have a DJ, when paying for music is a ridiuclous notion when you can download it for free or the artist is giving it away to get someones attention, and where record labels publishers are so tight handed with their money out of fear (remember when you used to hear stories about Gene Simmons starting a band AFTER he had a record contract?), out of all of this negativity we can at least say that bands, as always, eventually have started to make a comeback. Maybe not how you expected them too, but its there, and for now, its here to stay.