Technologist, musician and author Jaron Lanier told a Canadian Music Week breakfast this morning (March 12) that touring and selling merchandise is not a long-term solution for the decline in the sale of recorded music.

Lanier, a larger than life figure with long dreadlocks, is often called the 'father of virtual reality,' and is the author of a recently released book, "You Are Not A Gadget."

He spoke to several hundred attendees, including numerous senior Canadian music industry executives, including Warner Music Canada president Steve Kane and Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride, putting forth a message that file-sharing has destroyed more music careers than it has helped. He said critics who suggest musicians should rely on money from touring and merchandise sales will be proved wrong over time.

"Whatever it is that is rarefied that you sell instead of music is going away," he told the audience. He added that "free" cultural supporters, who suggest musicians should give away their recorded output, are short sighted, with very few examples of successful careers built on offering material without payment.

"Every single example of these musicians who did really well by giving stuff away... they don't exist," Lanier says. "There are a lot of people who pretend ... and it is fake."

Lanier adds that artists making a career off music in the digital age are still having success thanks to the traditional models.

"Anyone who is making it now is making it off the little shreds of the old system that is still working," he says.

He says a solution to the music solution could be devised in Canada, given its left-leaning culture and free market ideals.

"The solution could come in Canada because it is maxed out on the government angle and the free market," he says. "There's a shot at Canada being the leader."

Lanier has also had a second career as a musician, having worked with the likes of Phillip Glass and Yoko Ono.