Being a sound engineer, I can tell you straight away that the recording industry is changing, and drastically. Techno-fetishism and newer cheaper equipment is making recording more available and more appealing to musicians, pro and amateur. It's kind of depressing that the value of our skills go along so much with the value of our equipment. Long long ago, to be a recording engineer, you had to be an electrical engineer, and $100,000+ of gear. Now just about everyone with garageband is a "producer."
Back to techno-fetishism- technology has become so appealing and it integrates far too closely with society these days. Everything is connected... from the bluetooth headset in your ear to your iphone to your dock to your mixer and out your studio monitors. We wear our technology like peacock's and their feathers. Surrounding ourselves in BMW's and plasma televisions, electronics have become sexy iconic personal accessories that define status, personality and occupation. I'll admit that when I last flew, I carried onto the airplane an apple laptop, an iphone, 2 external harddrives, an expensive pair of headphones and my custom foamed pelican microphone case. I felt so cool walking through the airport with a fancy case full of microphones. Technology is becoming a psychological addiction, a self-affirmation. Technology is also becoming more and more useful.
One thing to know about the music industry is that the majority of bands make their money by touring, not selling records. Selling records traditionally, is a long process that doesn't pay off until much later. A hit record can be horrifying for a label because they have to pay millions to press more copies, which they won't see a penny from until a year later. iTunes is great because it cuts out a lot of the process of selling records and makes international distribution readily available to anyone. It also means that bands don't have to go to proper studios and go through record labels. Technology is also working the other way too, where it's just too good. With auto-tuning and beat-mapping anyone can be a star. I feel like culturally we accept lower quality music as well. Look at modern hip-hop and rap for example. Highly repetitive, lacking content, some songs are so banal and melody-less they're copyrighted as lectures.
These days it seems one of the few ways for major studios to survive is to settle into a niche. Everyone is starting to specialize. The days of massive studios are starting to fade. Rock studios, metal studios, singer-songwriter studios... Specificity is the way to go. My company's niche is being portable. I can set up anywhere and everywhere. Portability is marketable, as we can see with the iPod.
The technological evolution and occupational devolution seems like a concept which will only become more of an issue as time goes on.
Chief Engineer/Owner of GT Mobile Productions