Part of the changing nature of the Record Industry is the way that music is made.
The 'democracy' of doing everything in-house (or 'in bedroom' more typically
) naturally has positives and negatives. One area this applies to is mastering. The tools are now affordably available (I'm referring to software here primarily). Given experience and a good ear, the artist can do a good enough job themselves. I agree with Tony's points, but there's also great sounding 'bedroom creations' out there as well.
I would imagine most ambient artists can't afford to have their work externally mastered any more than they can afford a pressed CD run (and have hundreds of lovely pressed CDs in the basement for years to come)
For most people, 256/320 kbps mp3s are indistinguishable from CD quality audio. I'm not making any judgements on this, but I agree that a higher quality option would be a welcome option for the people who are more concerned with fidelity. Ian Boddy's 'Musiczeit' venture offers Flac downloads as well as mp3s.
Personally, I don't think there's any difference between a pressed CD and CDr in terms of audio quality - unless (as has been said previously) the CDr has been burned too quickly. I also believe that audiophiles should enjoy their systems as much as most people with average to good quality gear enjoy their music collections - Depeche Mode's 'Songs of Faith and Devotion' album sounds pretty lousy to me these days, but I'm not going to stop listening to one of my favourite albums for that reason alone.
The download music genie is well and truly out of the bottle, the big record labels are doomed and piracy is rife. I wonder how the indie labels will fare in time...