Well, allow me to retort!
Steve, you said:
'That nobody used to be so vocal or so numerous in their complaining that music was overpriced in the days before digital copying and the internet.'
Really? I seem to recall a class action suit against the RIAA Big Boys that resulted in a crappy check coming to me in the mail, as a settlement for the price fixing they'd engaged in.
I also recall the RIAA and MPAA whining and trying to stop the sale of VCRs and cassette recorders. Then screaming about lost revenue.
IAs an anecdote that I'm sure is most likely common, I never spent a lot of money on music. Why? Let me give you several examples: Butthole Surfers - ElectricLarryLand; Blur - Blur; Better Than Ezra - Deluxe; Metallica - St. Anger. What do these all have in common? Each one was a full album I paid roughly $16 (~£8) for, and each one had exactly 1 song worth listening to. These bands, with the exception of Metallica, are commonly and jokingly referred to as "one-hit wonders". But there went $48 (~£24) of my hard-earned(being a broke teenager and then a poorly paid Private) money, for basically 4 lousy songs.
Now I have an iPod. And an Alltunes account. And I've purchased more music in the last 2 years thn then entire rest of my life. Why? Because I sit here on a Saturday night, after a depressing viewing of SNL, and turn on Vh1's 'Metal Mania', and suddenly get caught up in a wave of nostalgia. I usually find myself downloading at least 5 songs every time I watch. Or I turn on the radio, and here one decent song out of the miserable manure pile that passes for Top 40 nowadays, go home, and pull it up on Alltunes. It doesn't feel like I blowing my cash when it's only 13 cents, as opposed to buying an entire, likely 95% shitty, album.
If 2 cents from every 13 cent song I downloaded would be accepted by the RIAA, if they would just give up their losing battle, and accept their small cut that ROM is offering, I'd bet my left nut they'd find themselves making more money than they are now; if they'd stop wasting their money on corporate lawyers to use scare tactics against grandmothers, small children, and the kin of the recently deceased, they'd be able to stay in business.
They need to wake up and realize that they live in a country when sweet, sweet capitalism has always been the rule. By sticking to their archaic business model, bravely denying the changes all around them, they're losing money. And as for the artists? Well, the Recording Industry has been giving it to them up the ass since the Edison invented the phonograph.
I like going to shows in small venues, where the artists and their friends set up a table to sell T-shirts and CDs, where I can buy a CD, get it autographed by one or more band members, and get a (however insincere) 'Thank You' from the people I'm giving my money to. That's how small-time(read:most) punk bands survive. I'm not a music purist, I don't masturbate over bands that only myself and 3 other people have ever heard of, but it's nice to have a personal touch. It's nice to know that most of the money I'm spending goes to the people who earned it, not the leeches exploiting young, unsigned talent. Of course this model would never work with the hugely popular bands like Metallica, but I would expect that any album with their name on it would have more than one decent song on it (St. Anger, sigh).
I still buy CDs. I buy from CD Baby. Occasionally, when it's a band I really like, such as the Offspring, I buy every new album faithfully. But I'm not going to drop $16-$18 bucks on the new Fallout Boy album for one lousy track.
And for the rest of you folks across the pond, yep, I'm an American, if you can't tell. And I like Russian music. Which would be wonderful if Alltunes actually carried ТАЯНА albums. I also like Christy Moore, Luka Bloom, and Shane McGowan. Good luck finding "Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash" at Sam Goody.
We're not all fat, loud, guntoting, mouthbreathing rednecks over here. Some of us are thin, quiet, guntoting IT workers.