Lots of interesting thoughts and ideas....
I do my own music and where possible art - though sometimes it needs adjusting as in fitting into a label artistic profile. I have always found the context of the music is as important to me as the sound and that can be well conveyed by great art.
I don't churn stuff out and try to make it as solid and interesting as possible on both grounds. I know I have been lucky in that everything i have done has so far been put out on a label so not had much room for releasing music myself (though one of the collabs i am working on will be self released as CDR).
I find it is a fine balance between working hard to get the sounds just right (in the midst of all the other demands a life puts on me) and releasing enough music to keep people interested. I notice in the now playing thread that some artists do manage to get listened to all year round but many of us tend to go in peaks and troughs - often associated with releases. I think it is hard to gauge how much our music is enjoyed by everyone who listens in that context.
also I find the internet does make things easier in some ways, but perhaps less personal in others. I don't invest the time in sites like myspace in order to build up a 'following' and have been surprised at how many people who say they like the music seem to recoil from personal contact via email (unless my gruff invective and lewd personal comments scares them off
) - but have enjoyed the contact with those who seem to value it.
I would like something that helps develop the relationships between musicians and listeners more personally.
before i got back into making music i did some reviewing and was totally inspired by the (can't remember the name of the magazine) that did a whole, many page exploration of the Electric Ladyland LP, including interviews, stories and anecdotes - it was great and the sort of deeply in depth stuff that to me is generally missing in the web reviews.