I'm told that a century ago the average American could sing 300 folk songs. Not too surprising, since back then, if you wanted music, you probably had to make it yourself.
So now, as it is so easy to have music delivered to us, it seems that music as a homemade endeavor has changed a great deal. What is interesting to me is that the folk singers of a hundred years ago were amateurs.
I feel bad that the word “amateur” has become a term of derision; the word originally meant someone who does something out of love. There’s a certain purity about music that is played by someone only for the sheer joy of it.
The large number of garage bands, hip-hop collectives, and home recordings that spring each day up on SoundCloud and other websites suggests that the amateur market is doing just fine, even flourishing.
People are making their own entertainment, developing a deeper relationship with music you can't get by just listening.