The point of a copyright is not to say "no one may copy this product unless the copyright holder has been compensated". It is to say "IF there is any money to be made from the duplication and distribution of this material, THEN the copyright holder has the sole right to make that money".
- Alexander Pensky, Comment #42 on the above-linked article.
This text is taken from the comments on the above linked article. This is *precicely* the problem I have with the current tension between media companies and consumers. Copyright wasn't about forcing consumers to pay full price for a product they're not sure they want. Make a copy, have a listen - if you like it, then buy it. If you wouldn't pay money for it, but might listen to it occasionally, why should it be illegal to copy it? You weren't going to buy it anyway. If it's got 2 good songs on it, why should you have to pay for the other 8 suckfest ones the band had to write to satisfy their contract?
Here's the model I see for artists in the future: Abandon the idea of the "albumn." It's dead, get over it. Go to work each day to write songs with your band. Release them online at prices that are simpler then trying to find a download for them. Release new tracks as you produce them. Yes, your songs will get copied and distributed elsewhere, but if it's easy to go to your site and buy a track for a buck fifty, plenty of people WILL do it. I know I would. Especially when I know the money directly goes into making more of the music I'm enjoying, rather then paying the legal fees to sue small children and grandparents. And hey - the band gets ALL the profits. Not some miniscule cut after the record company takes their share.
The above linked article is part of a series, and although I've only read this one, I'd recommend them all. Very logical well thought out discussion.