I am torn by this issue.
Unfortunately, the actions of the "music industry" have sabotaged the artists' interests, IMHO. They have lectured me about morality while installing viruses on their customers' computers. They pick and choose people of limited means to sue for huge sums of money for illegally copying music files, while simultaneously providing advance copies of music for bloggers to disseminate in order to build "buzz." Payola (bribery, financed by their paying customers) is still a problem in the broadcasting industry. They have deliberately tried to pervert existing copyright laws into something they are not, and were never intended to be. I don't believe that home taping ever seriously threatened the record business, in spite of the industry's claims and lawsuits. I do believe that the home CD recording market was sabotaged by the industry and their needless distinction between "Music" and "Data" CD-Rs. I believe I have the right to record music for which broadcast fees have been paid. Etc., etc.
They also manipulate the market. For example, you can legally pay for and download the album Evergreen Vol. 2, by the Stone Poneys -- If you live in Europe. If you live in America, even if you want to pay for it they won't sell it to you. (You can now buy an Australian import CD, but shouldn't I have the legal choice?) Etc., etc.
It's easy to feel "ripped off" by the music industry, and that turnabout is fair game.
But that isn't fair to the artists.
All people deserve to be compensated fairly for their work. Very talented people should be able to earn enough from their music to quit their day jobs -- this benefits us because it frees them up to create more music.
The "Music Industry" is changing. The ease of distribution over the internet -- legitimate as well as illegitimate -- means that we don't need the kind of music distribution infrastructure that grew up over the last century. This was the sector of the business that was pretty much viewed as a license to print money -- no one involved wants to see it go. It also means that a lot of lawyers, sales reps, managers, etc., will likely lose their jobs. They are trying any tactic they can find to prolong the "good old days." As someone who was an employee of the old "Bell System," and who went through the divestitures of the 80s and 90s, I sympathize with them. That was a bad time to work at AT&T or an operating company -- but it had to happen. Life as I knew it back then was very good, and the world is a better place for it, but those days are gone.
Today, even though the market is dwindling, I still prefer real CDs. I believe that they provide the most permanent form of music storage available. Besides, even if I download music I immediately burn it to a CD-R for archival purposes -- I've had a hard disk fail, and last year suffered a dramatic virus attack. That means I still need some kind of music company (in addition to the artists) -- but I don't need a behemoth like Sony-BMG. I think fewer and fewer people do.
Most of the CDs I've bought in the past year have come from Hypnos, Spotted Peccary, and other small outfits. I'll still be buying CDs as long as I can.
I would also like to buy (legally buy) David Wright's latest, Dreams and Distant Moonlight, on CD. I can't find anyplace in the US that has it, and overseas S&H is expensive, so I might wind up (legally paying for and) downloading it from someplace like Musiczeit. Either way, I want artists to keep making music and I'm willing to pay a reasonable amount in a fair transaction for the privilege.
EDIT: And while I was typing that I was notified of seven new replies. It's a "hot button!"