I missed that you were emphasizing the free / give-away aspect of this–I was responding more to what you were saying along the lines of:
“For performers to encourage avocational musicians to learn to play the music for themselves is a sea change in publishing.”
But, I would disagree if you’re suggesting that selling (in the past) vs give-away (now) is inherently coupled to a musician not-maximizing vs maximizing their fans involvement with their music.
I’d just say that it’s a more intricate relationship, in general–and, especially if we are factoring in “cost of goods” in the past (20+ years), when there was real expense in distributing (physical) sheet music or lesson tapes.
So, as a case: imagine someone who wanted to do exactly what Stephen Merritt is doing now, except that it’s 1981. I think there were people like that in 1981, and I don’t think they were acting like an extension of the sheet music industry, even when there was some $$ exchanged.
But then again, I was in LA / Hollywood in 1981, and a major DIY revolution in music was happening–so my perspective is skewed!