I think it greatly depends on the type of music you’re creating/promoting/teaching etc.
There is music that is made with greedy, egoistic intentions like Marylin Manson, and there is something I call “music of the heart”. For example ambient spiritual meditative music like this:
To me it is amazing an d beautiful, because this music is neither “catchy” nor negative nor disturbing. Quite the opposite, when I feel very anxious sometimes, putting it on my closed headphones (good isolation) and closing my eyes is the easiest way to do samatha meditation for me. Also when I stop listening, it is easy to let go of this music, it doesn’t stay with you later like some pop melody. I would never consider life of this artist as wrong livelyhood, quite the opposite.
Bhante Sujato said on the retreat that samatha meditation is like letting the object soothe you. Be it breath, ocean or just wind in the tress - if it soothes you and you let it do its job, it is samatha. I find meditation music to be most calming thing in the world for me, except for total silence, which sadly is very rare in many places.
Another type of music, evoking emotions related to metta and compassion, example:
It really helped me with metta meditation at the begining of my path. The flute part is like expression of true love and forgiveness for me and it helped me feel this in my heart at the beginning stages of my practice and sometimes help me still.
Also, some energetic music can be very helpful when one is in depressive mood. Music can be very energising and is much less invasive than for example stimulants like coffee. To get energy from coffee you have to change your biochemistry for hours. Music can give you this spike energy for shorter period of time without feeling drained afterwards, and you can just turn it off anytime. It helps me to keep my dynamic vinyasa yoga practice on weaker days, when I lack energy to practice, I just turn on some music, get my yoga done and feel much better afterwards that I’ve done it. And energetic music can really give this spike of energy needed to start practice or work on bad days.
Also there is something called “therapeuthic music”. For example gongs or tibetan bowls when played can make people start feeling piti and even experience very soft light in the mind. I use them to aid people in getting into meditation and it works wonders. In yoga there is practice called nada yoga, which also sometimes uses specific types of music to support sadhakas in on their journey to higher states of consciousness (especially gongs, bowls). This is great example of such music used for meditative/therapheutic effect:
At the same time I consider most of music in the world as unwholesome and egodriven, especially pop, rap and various kinds of metal music. But there are genres that are very deep sounding, not designed to addict from it, without any words or strong emotions so don’t influence your mood expect from calming or stimulating or heartwarming. Music can also cut off various really annoying noises when travelling etc, which can be helpful for people with strong anxieties. The fact that we have so much genres today can make people choose whatever music suits them to help them in their life.
I consider such types of music to be very wholesome. Egodriven music just to evoke “samsaric” emotions and make people just worship the musician - unwholesome.
Speaking in language of yoga, I would say music can be made of sattva (spiritual energy aimed at liberation), rajas (wordly energy aimed at sensual pleasures), and tamas (destructive and unprogressive energy). More or less these intentions can drive music and I think it more depends on whether music is sattvic or not, rather than saying that all music is bad, period. Even monks are chanting suttas which in a way is sacral music, just like christian choirs, tibetan or hindu mantras etc. I think every or almost every religion considered some form of music to be sacred and evoking feelings conductive to spiritual practice.
Right now I’m almost on 8 precepts, but the only thing I don’t want to let go of is such music. I envy people who can get all calmness and motivation in life without music, but for people with some weaknesses of character like me, wholesome music can be very helpful in life. From my experience gong is very helpful to get people into meditation at the beginning so I also think it is wholesome and it is part of my livelyhood and I consider it very good.
I’m moving slowly towards not needing music at all, but it is a gradual path. Buddha was also speaking of gradual path. Sattvic music can be very helpful for people less advanced on the path, and it is much more healthy and wholesome than many other ways of “helping ourselves”, like drugs, sweets, dwelling on toxic emotions or getting entangled into hurtful relationships. And as it is difficult to let go of everything at once, having sattvic music even as some sensual entertainment, in comparison to other types of sensuality seems like no big “sin” to me.
Thing is some music can be exatly the exprression of loving kindness, designed to help people in various ways. in germany and UK gongs and bowls are normal as aids in healing in some hospitals.
There is even something called “Peter Hess Academy” that is studying effects of sound on healing.
One of many articles on the subject of sound healing:
I hope you don’t mind me posting some examples of music I was speaking about. I also hope my post is somehow conductive to the discussion.