If you take the long view, mass media permitted the arts to move from a patronage model to a gatekeeper model. You no longer needed Medicis in order to put on a play, Goodyear would do. So long as there was a gate through which the audience must pass, there was a place to monetize. Want in the gate? Buy a ticket. Want in the gate? Look at this advertisement. Want in the gate? Listen to this jingle. Want in the gate? Watch this Zoloft blob.
The internet, with its "information wants to be free" model, tore down the gate. You don't need a 50,000W transmitter outside of Chicago in order to show Jack Benny to Gary, Indiana. Physical reproduction is extinct; used to be your band got big by handing out tapes at your gigs, now you plug your Soundcloud when that tweet goes viral.
So you don't have a take anymore. There is no portion of the door that belongs to you. Information is free. You still have living costs, however. You still have production costs.
We're nearing the end of a 20-year period where the indies, who were doing it for free but trying for broadcast, and the broadcasters, who were doing it for money but now need to do it for free, have slowly died off. For hundreds of years entertainment has been a handful of powerful people deciding the lives of the entertainers they deem worthy of championing. There was a period from about 1948 to about 2006 where you could make a tongue-in-cheek argument that it was a meritocracy but not even the kids believe that anymore.
Look - the guy who created Fox, who bought the home shopping network from the guy who created Comcast, pulled the plug on that thing the BustedTees guys couldn't make money with for fourteen years.
They began by posting silly photos of themselves as well as jokes, links, and other amusing material they collected from emails circulating among college students. Within three months the site was receiving over 600,000 visitors per month and $8,000 in monthly revenue. In under a year they received a buyout offer from an Internet company called eFront for $9 million, most of which would have been financed with stock shares.
Eight whole thousand dollars a month! Holy shit! By way of perspective? Eight grand buys you about 5.7 seconds of prime time advertising on a single broadcast channel in 2000. Yeah it's a couple guys stealing fart jokes off their frat's mailserv so fuckin' hell 8k is impressive but it'll also pay for approximately 90 seconds of a soap opera and nobody watches that shit anymore.
Boo hoo College Humor. But no one was ever paying for it but Barry Fucking Diller and Barry Fucking DIller made hella more money off of Gilbert Gottfried than he ever did off of Adam Ruins Everything. Meanwhile, Adam Ruins Everything destroyed the marketplace of everything else. Facebook doesn't care what it costs or what it makes because they just want your engagement and they know you aren't going to Tumblr or some shit. And now? Now they've got people posting shit for free so they don't have to pay for any of it.
It's like the patronage model, except without needing any actual artists.