Here are a few facts:
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to instantly access music they want to listen to (thanks to recordings and computers).But there are things that aren't easy these days for professional musicians, and because of the very things that make our musical lives easier, I fear that the profession of music (at least the classical kind) will continue to atrophy from its 150-year heyday that lasted from the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th century. But because of these technologies there is a great deal of room for amateur music making (and amateur music making at its highest level) to grow and continue to enhance our lives. It's just that because of technology it is becoming increasing difficult to make the kind of living where a person can own a house, raise children, own a car, and retire in old age by depending on music making as his or her livelihood.
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to acquire musical skills (thanks to instructional videos and a large number of well-taught teachers who live outside of major cities).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to acquire sheet music (thanks to the IMSLP and interlibrary loan).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to learn about composers who could have been forgotten (thanks to the blogosphere and Wikipedia).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people anywhere to buy high-quality instruments (and some made by living makers are affordable).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to buy good quality instruments for students of all ages and sizes.
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for people to evaluate themselves and their playing (thanks to recording technology).
It has never in the history of the world for people to present themselves in a way that makes them seem musically more competent than they are (thanks to free computer editing programs and auto-tune).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy to find like-minded musicians and communicate with them.
It has never in the history of the world been so easy for composers to hear a good approximation of what their notated music sounds like (thanks to Finale and Sibelius).
It has never in the history of the world been so easy to listen to traditional music from every corner of the world.
It has never in the history of the world been so easy to acquire affordable replicas of instruments from previous centuries and to learn how to play them from people who are expert players.
It has never in the history of the world been so easy to distribute music (thanks to PDF files and computers).
When I was growing up I thought of paying money to study with someone as an investment in gaining enough technique and musical insight to do well in the profession of music. Now it seems that the money exchanged between student and teacher in a lesson has more to do with gaining inspiration, gaining a sense of confidence on an instrument, finding a sense of purpose in life, and acquiring the ability to express emotion through music than making an investment in succeeding in the profession.
I believe that the profession of teaching music will continue, and even thrive in some cases and in some communities. But people fortunate enough to be tenure-track members of a university faculty are finding that more and more people using their college "dollar" to pursue professions other than musical ones. This eventually causes music departments to shrink substantially or be eliminated altogether.
Perhaps we are entering a new age concerning the profession of music. At first professional musicians were supported mainly through the church, and then by various monarchs (who also subsidized church musicians). Publishing music was also a big business from the 16th century through the 20th century.
And there were concerts. Some people went to concerts because they were an enjoyable form of entertainment. Some people went to concerts because they wanted to hear music (much like the way people go to art museums because they want to enjoy looking at art). Local businesses advertised in concert programs, and wealthy people in communities gave money to keep orchestras going (much like the way wealthy people give money to art museums).
Around the middle of the 20th century, particularly in America, universities were the places to find music. Colleges and universities, often funded by industrial moguls like Eastman, started having faculty string quartets, concert series, artists in residence, and composers in residence (some well-endowed schools still do). Serious portable automation along with cultural shifts have caused the general college-age population (with the exception of students who were either exposed to classical music during childhood or participate in musical activities themselves) have changed the entertainment priorities of many campuses. A lot of non-musical faculty members in their 30s and 40s don't take advantage of musical activities on college campuses. From where I sit it seems that most of the people who attend university concerts are either retired (or older) faculty members, young people who are taking music appreciation classes, or friends of the people performing.
Wouldn't it be nice if our next musical age could involve communities themselves as centers of musical activity rather than evangelical institutions or institutions of higher learning? Wouldn't it be nice if wealthy people could consider giving money to musical organizations that continue to promote community music and if there could be music-related jobs created so that musicians could subsidize their musical "habits" by getting paid to work for the cause of community music? Wouldn't it be nice if people from all walks of life understood (from experience) about the life-enhancing value of listening to music played by human beings rather than by mechanical reproduction? Wouldn't it be nice if people in positions of influence in city governments could place well-deserved value on what a community has to offer musically to its members and do its best (through all the media) to get the message out that classical musicians are an asset to a community?