Musicians are Poor (and Dirty)
Here's a thread from Ask Metafilter discussing the gap between perceived success as a musician and actual financial success. It's mostly anecdotes about famous or semi-famous musicians that have day jobs. It's strange to me that this fact is still a mind blower. Sometimes I wonder if artists being more up front about their earnings would impact file sharing. Something I've noticed is that many people exaggerate what they think musicians earn, which makes it easier to dismiss buying their albums after they download them. What's $15 to an artist who's riding around in a limosine, right? What if you knew he took the bus? To work? Where he gets paid less than you?
Major label culture does a lot to encourage the belief that once you're on the radio or on MTV you're rich and a complete success. It can be good for business, sell albums and attract more fans. And the artists happily go along with it for the same reasons and because it makes them feel good -- nobody wants to be a failure. But it can also trigger a backlash where fans (especially Internet fans) don't want to support you because they've been convinced that you don't need their support.
It makes me think about alternative/industrial bands that I dissed when I was a teenager because I thought they "sold out" when it's pretty clear in retrospect that they were probably just barely scraping by.
I'm guessing that as the label and star system flattens and spreads out (which is already happening gradually) the disparity between fame and big bank accounts will become more obvious.