Caution: This is a bit of a freeform flow of information from my head…
Ultimately, all music will be free someday — ok, 99% of it. OK, maybe I’m wrong. I was thinking of TV — that’s all free to consumers. I was thinking of Newspapers and online writing (blogs) — that’s all free. Those are all subsidized by advertising revenues (including paid classified listings in newspapers, which is advertising essentially).
But then I started thinking about Books — that’s writing, but they charge money for them. Or Movies — that’s a more packaged/produced piece of video (typically) — and those cost money.
Music has radio — radio is free. Although you have to listen to whatever radio broadcasts out to you — just like TV — just like online newspapers & blogs. So the CD is the DVD is the Book is the Video Game.
Video Games don’t really have a “free” equivalent. (I can’t think of a free equivalent to Halo 3 — I guess the free online games offered at like Yahoo! Games and Pogo?)
And the concert is the movie theater — both are experiences; you pay for the experience of the big screen, or the roar of the crowd that’s familiar with a music band/artist. T-Shirts and stickers — along with all sorts of other branded crap by a band/artist or movie — is the ancillary stuff that sells and makes those industries more extra money. For newspapers, the equivalent are the paid classified ads I’d say.
Time is money and the only resource we all lack — and which we all value the most. If a consumer spends time listening to your music, and telling their friends all about it, which results in selling out your shows — that’s the “virtual currency” (or labor cost) they are putting up, rather than spending their valuable free time watching TV, or watching YouTube, or watching a movie, or playing outside, or playing video games, or brushing their teeth, or listening to another band. If a consumer spends the time to listen to your music (out of the millions of artists and albums that exist out there — and likely billions of songs), then consider yourself talented — and the money will follow.