A few days ago I was reading a post on Digital Music News lamenting the state of the music industry:

Today you wrote that "the recording has effectively become worthless." Turning music into a commodity has far reaching implications that go well beyond the destruction of the record industry. One of the results is the overall devaluation of the music experience.

I have a hypothesis (sans empirical research) that Grunge really started the music industry's demise. Not the music per se, but the attitude that musicians were no different than their fans.

While this is true to the extent that no single person is greater or lesser than the next, what made the music industry great was that musicians like Hendrix, Page, Joplin, Mozart, etc, had abilities far greater than their fans.

But when musicians start saying they're no different to the fans, we have a problem. Which is simply because as a species humans want what we don't have and don't value what we do.

As Chuck D says:

If the crowd feels they can do better than you why would they take the time & $ to be bothered?

For a very long time the crowd has felt they can do what musicians do, and if that's the view then what musicians do has very little comparative value. It doesn't matter whether that's true or not: perception is reality.