The sheet music industry originally started in substantial part as as way to sell musical instruments. The recording industry went one better, by offering the listener a musical experience without the need to have technical proficiency. Now the technology is giving the listener the best of sheet music and the best of the recording experience, and the market is altering again. Yet the funds available for the important pursuit of music in most peoples’ lives isn’t contracting–it’s reallocating.
I am also interested in things we don’t think of as “musical” directly, but which arise from the same instinct–“Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” and all the new computer games. Nobody totes in the rather high per-unit cost of these items in determining whether there is a music “decline”.
I hope that musical instrument sales are booming, because the creation of a music culture depends in part on citizen/practitioners.