The main difference is that even hobbyists have access to full professional tools today. This doesn't concern music only. Most amateur bands have a high end PA in the garage. Every second holiday surfer has a Jason Stevenson surfboard. High end animation software and quadcopters are mainstream as well. Consumer cameras with cinematic resolution. Nothing costs more than an average car. It's a professional hobby market.
The difference is still the time you can invest in things you want to do. That didn't change.
It's not entirely a new thing that quality sound can be had for cheap or even free.
When I started out in 1990/1991, the first music I made was done using a free sequencer with free samples.
It was a tracker called Soundtracker. Music was made on 4 tracks, all being monophonic, so if you triggered a snare and had a hihat a 16th later, the snare would be cut off. There was no round robins, no velocity layers and if you wanted chords you'd have to use several of your 4 channels - unless you had a sampled chord of course.
It was a bit limited, but still, it was free to make music.
So if we are spoiled - we've been spoiled for 30 years really.
It'll always be hard to write music. Technology breaks down the barriers to workflow allowing greater creativity, but technology does not allow people who wouldn't be able to write to suddenly understand music theory.
After taking the time last weekend to listen through the different libraries I have now, especially in the area of strings, I realize that there is nothing special missing.
It's always worth comparing the components of the library you own, because I notice that I don't know anything as well as I thought.
Suddenly sounds that I didn't do anymore and rarely used sound really good again and they get more into my focus.
I have fallen into a sale madness and have bought things that I, after closer examination, more or less already had. Or at least so similar that it is irrelevant in use.
I often hear the nuances individually, in interaction they disappear more and more.
Again and again I read here contributions from people who, for example, hear the Hollywood strings and then say, oh, but they sound good even though they are so old.
The good effect for me to compare all those is that I now ask myself more often, do I really need that? And more and more my answer is, no.
I've bought a lot this month on sale and I'm fine with it, but somehow I have the feeling I have to put an end to this insanity and just live and work with what I have now.
A feeling of supersaturation begins to set in and slowly it seems to hinder me more than it takes me forward.
The time a tool takes to get to know it fully is getting shorter because the next great toy there is just arousing more interest.
Exactly that was completely different before, every millimeter of a filter was tested, and the sight of buttons and faders in the dark created a very special atmosphere.