@mgriffin Nobody should blame an artist for a limited edition selling out if it was the label's decision to release a quantity too small to satisfy immediate demand.
Also, listeners/customers should realize that it's much easier for artists like Steve Roach and Robert Rich to keep everything in print, because they sell a lot more copies, thus a repressing of 500 or 1,000 CDs is much easier decision to make.
I think the best thing for the artist, the label and the customer is when editions are made available that "fit" with the artist and label's ability to sell a given quantity over a reasonable period of time. Most people understand that sometimes there isn't sufficient demand to justify a re-pressing of something that's out of print... at least not immediately.
The problem comes up when labels make the decision to press a too-small quantity in order to generate a frenzy of short-term buying, and everyone who missed out on that initial window of availability is screwed. This harms the artist too, because there are people who want to hear the music and can't, and I would argue it even harms the label itself -- because if they had planned better, they could have sold more copies and made more money. Clearly it hurts the listener, unless they're poised to buy the moment the release comes out.
I don't know that I agree that a download-only release is better than a CDR release.
Just for me personally a CDR (sometimes) is better than a download. For me, downloads, while they good for archival and for keeping a permanent copy of something to listen to, I don't feel any attachment to it. Having some kind of physical object is almost always better.
Unfortunately though, most CDRs come in packages that are cheap too.. so I don't know if it's really better or not.
@APK A CDR sounds the same
Yes, of course. But a high-quality download sounds the same, too. I agree that it can empower artists, but only on a certain scale. For example, CDRs are great, because it allows anyone to create small editions of their music at home to share with others. It isn't possible for just anyone to press 500 or even 300 CDs, so for that is is good. What is bad is when labels or artists are purposefully cheap, when they could (or should) be pressing CDs, and instead press CDRs, with cheap packaging.
Another benefit about home-making CDRs, is that you can be creative with packaging as well. I see a lot of CDR releases that have really uncreative packaging. Maybe digipaks and jewel cases that come with regular CDs aren't always interesting (design-wise), but at least the quality of the printing is even.
@ffcal I agree with this too. Special/odd packaging and for more creative homemade designs, this is okay for CDRs. For example you mentioned my release Sieline, which would have been impossible in any other way. Firstly the actual package itself would only fit a 3" CDR, and 3" CDRs at the time were not available (to my knowledge) as silver CDs, or there would have been a quantity minimum. So for 4 of them that would be a ridiculous price.. obviously the only way for that. And the package, custom with a die-cut and painted, for me it was much more special being able to make something unique like that.
Also a good example is American Tapes. Their releases are always limited, and rather obscure, sometimes even very cheaply made, but there is character in that garage-made crusty style. It's one of the few CDR-prone labels I still buy from.
What is bad about CDRs and packaging, is when labels stamp the band name on a Verbatim CDR, use a cardboard package with no original design or unique character, and label it as an album release, selling it as the same price of a normal, factory pressed CD.