As a companion to David Byrne and Thom Yorke's conversation about the music biz, Wired's published "David Byrne's Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – and Megastars," a long piece with many illustrative slides and anaecdotes that lays out some surprising, smart and useful visionary material about the way to earn your living with music in the 21st century. Don't miss the audio of David Byrne and Brian Eno and other lumniaries chatting about the subject!
Many who take the cash up front will never know that long-range thinking might have been wiser. Mega pop artists will still need that mighty push and marketing effort for a new release that only traditional record companies can provide. For others, what we now call a record label could be replaced by a small company that funnels income and invoices from the various entities and keeps the accounts in order. A consortium of midlevel artists could make this model work. United Musicians, the company that Hausman founded, is one such example.
I would personally advise artists to hold on to their publishing rights (well, as much of them as they can). Publishing royalties are how you get paid if someone covers, samples, or licenses your song for a movie or commercial. This, for a songwriter, is your pension plan.
Increasingly, it's possible for artists to hold on to the copyrights for their recordings as well. This guarantees them another lucrative piece of the licensing pie and also gives them the right to exploit their work in mediums to be invented in the future – musical brain implants and the like.