It's amazing to me how fast sentiments have changed. Many CD labels have disappeared not over the 10 years past, but specifically as recent as the last two years. I wasn't thinking about downloads two years ago either, but I sure do like the convenience of a digital player and it's storage, though refuse to use anything that is not lossless. The convenience eliminates the question of quality all together.
Convenience is dangerous as downloading is easy and easy quickly becomes the norm. Once used to the norm, it is hard to still make an effort. Who would ever want to get up again to change channels on a television? The "clicker" though, has created a culture of programming that is shallow, bite size, less involved. Sorry, I am going slightly all over the place with this ; )
I love the CD and I think I finally truly understand what those old vinyl lovers hated about it when it became obvious it would replace vinyl. Same for Laserdiscs, same for video 2000... it's progress isn't it. Those where incremental steps, the medium was always still physical. What makes this so hard to accept is that there is nothing any more that contains the work. The work itself doesn't change, but does that also hold true for the way it is consumed? The process of opening a CD, placing it in a player; even waiting for it to arrive once ordered. It builds a certain tension. I'm repeating what has been said before me in this thread, I agree.
SunDummy, the "perceived value" is a very "actual" topic in games. Microsoft put it as creating an "economy of value" and the iTunes game business imploded in a single month around this time last year, when app builders noticed that the best way to sell was having a game in the top 15/30 list. Within a few weeks, apps where 99c. This meant that people bought both expensive games and bad ones for 99c. Now, a year onwards even I consider anything above 99c to be expensive. The reasoning is not that 99c is impossibly cheap for a product that was made by a company of say five creative artists, working for 3 months on something.
Does quality work in the same way? If there a sort of "maximum" enjoyment one can receive from a download as opposed to a physical medium, simply because the later takes more effort. It makes sense that there would be some truth in that. A new generation is growing up and they will hit their teens, when their music involvement and musical-"forming" reaches its peak. They might cherish their download as much as I did my CD's back in the day, as did the generation before me the record.
A good release is a good release, but to be able to release it physically; that requires money. Money to get it made, designed and distributed, all equally expensive. Digital distribution takes away a lot of the up-front money and hassle too. 10 years ago, when the studio became more and more obsolete and people where able to record from their home, the quantity went up and the quality went down. When it costs a lot of money to record something, the effort to do it well is greater. Similar, the public (listeners) are less attracted to pay for quality unless a huge marketing investment teaches them that the product is worth the money, talk about your catch 22.
Perhaps it's simply us old folk refusing to accept the winds of change (sorry), exclaiming how much better it used to be.