The general consensus is that the industry is going toes-up into the bottom of a shit hole it slowly dug for itself over the last two or three decades via general greed and cluelessness.
I still stand by that opinion and until the RIAA stops wrongly suing citizens for 'stealing music' I won't change my mind.
There are other views, however.
I usually discount anything KISS' Gene Simmons says as something crafted to sell more KISS merch or put Gene one step closer to ubiquitousness (KISStianity he calls it). But in this case, I actually stopped and thought about what he said, and it actually made some sense:
"Yeah, but whoever invented the idea that a record company should support a band? What lunatic ever expects that? Imagine being in a business where you have to pay money, an advance, cash, to a band. Record companies were the best friend you and I ever had. They give you a big advance, you never have to pay the money back. If it loses and it bombs, you never pay the money back. They'll earn back their money, then they continue to pay you royalties. That's the best friend you ever had. Then they have to go manufacture it, promote it, advertise it, PLUS they want to get you out on tour and they'll pay you to go out on tour. They don't participate in your licensing, your merchandising or your live ticket sales."
I've heard Gene say the same thing, but better. The point is, the music industry does put its balls out there and generally loses money, so when it finds a cash cow, it milks it for all its worth. It's understandable - it's the music BUSINESS after all.
I guess that's the problem. It's not a supportive environment for the artist, despite what Gene said. It is a money making venture. If you are an immediate hit, great. If not, you are done.
Thankfully, the Internet has opened up new avenues for bands to make themselves heard. But now the problem is, it's so crowded out there it's hard to hone in on what's good. To get in front of enough people to move the needle, you need to be on the Web for hours a day, promoting yourself and posting links to your music, Web site, etc. Who's got the time for that? Not me!
Gene's comments are from an interview he did with Dave Navarro, some of which is posted here.