Very good musicians are very rare.
You can go to any professional "art" music (read: symphony, chamber music, contemporary) performance and hear some "very good musicians". Most of these people won't be making a ton of money (if that's your metric of talent), but they're still great performers. I should know, I play in an orchestra full of these people.
[Musicians] are not productive
Since your definitions seem to be oriented financially, let me explain how musicians can be productive. Every time my orchestra performs a concert, we have to have our concert hall prepared by someone, giving them something "productive" to do. Before the concert and during intermission, a large number of people are required to handle tickets, refreshments (which have to be manufactured somewhere), programs (which have to be created and printed somewhere) - all of which are "productive" activities. When people come to the concert, they drive, consuming gasoline in their automobiles, and a majority go out to dinner, contributing monetarily in some way to the local economy prior to arriving to the concert hall (this was confirmed in a survey given to audience members last season). These all have a financial impact on my community. Not to mention the fact that the musicians have an income that will impact the economy as well.
Now, remind me again how we're not productive?
Also, fully 80% of the members of our orchestra teach lessons privately or are teachers at an educational institution. Learning to play an instrument requires that the student develop mental and physical skills that no other activity can provide, as well as learn how to improve themselves through practice and dedication. Do you honestly think that music students aren't more productive adults because of their experience as a dedicated student? Does this not help in the overall productivity in society?
I haven't even delved into the "human" side of what we do since you have no interest in it, which is your perogative. However, from interacting with my audiences over the years I've found that people need art, especially great art, in their lives.
So before going out there and stating that musicians are of "no real benefit to society", I'd think again. I'd bet that the professional musicians who make a living performing and teaching (not just from recording) contribute more to society than any recorded artist ever could.
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