Many more people listen to classical music on streaming services than attend live concerts. Streaming is forcing important changes on recorded classical music, and these changes are little understood, or, in some notable cases, not understood at all. As an example, on the music industry-endorsed Slipped Disc classical influencer Norman Lebrecht gives an enthusiastic welcome to Apple Classical , saying: 'In a Shostakovich tenth symphony from Berlin, the internal definition seemed to me clearer than the orchestra’s own-label recording and, weirdly, than my aural memory of hearing it in the hall. If this is to be the future quality of sound, bring it on'. In his linked article for The Critic headlined Apple of My Ear Lebrecht explains that he auditioned Apple Classical using the Dolby Atmos/Apple Spatial Audio format. So we need to dig down into the use of PR-speak such as "the sound on Apple is as good as it gets, actually better" by a prominent music critic
There are an awful lot of works that would fall apart if not for a traffic cop on the podium (excluding operatic works. They really need a benevolent dictator to keep things going!)
Most, however, were composed after 1890 and require humungous resources. That alone makes these performances costly. So, maybe, the clue to financial stability is for orchestras to pair-down, perform older (and newer!) works that don’t require so many musicians, and occasionally get someone to conduct the bigger works. The late 19th /early 20th century orchestra is truly a product of the end of the Industrial Age and the central focus of the Consumer Age. We are, I believe, in the post-ages for both. And small is good again.
Whether or not they're overpaid is a different matter entirely (one could say the same thing about software program managers compared to the developers who actually build the darn things), but if a conductor "doesn't make a difference" to the music, then classical music, recording-wise, might as well be like rock music (or film scores), where only the first recording of a work is necessary or "valid".
Obviously it is not. The Guardian article speaks from a position of sheer ignorance and self-righteousness.