Janis Ian wrote two very interesting articles about the music industry and the "Internet Debacle" they "face":
What makes them so interesting is they're coming from what I guess you'd call the "blue collar" portion of the music industry: someone who is a known, successful artist who makes a good (but not wonderful) living working hard entertaining people because that's what they love to do.
I can say for myself that I've stopped buying CDs because they're just too damned expensive. When they first came out, the prices were $17.99 and were justified because there were only two factories in the world capable of making them. Twenty years later the kind of back-shelf music I want to buy is still $17.99 (or higher), while AOL carpet-bombs the country with CDs cheaper than the bulk-rate postage they're mailed out on.
I got a CD player in 1984, a second-generation Emerson unit that was an absolute steal at $198.99 at the local Wal-Mart. As a teenager with disposable income and no rent, I ended up with the largest CD collection of anyone I knew for years. Whenever I had spare cash I'd always try to pick up at least two discs. One day my college roommate pointed out he always knew when I had spare cash because I brought home new CDs. It was then I realized that CDs were taking up all my spare cash. I think I've perhaps bought one or two a year ever since.
If I could buy four CDs and only spend $20, I'd pick up at least two a week for the rest of my life. You see, I'm one of those a**holes who can tell the difference between an MP3 and a CD, and I spent $$$ on a stereo system to prove it. The sound difference, to me at least, is huge. I'd love to pick up a copy of the Cowboy Beebop soundtrack, for example, because I downloaded a copy and really liked what I heard. But the only place I can find it wants $21.95 for it. $21.95 when I know it only cost $.05 cents to make. I just won't do it.
I once asked the rabid teenage music downloader I know (you know, one of the ones that are "crushing" a multi-billion dollar industry) if she'd be willing to pay $5 for a CD of any artist she downloaded for free. Without even blinking she said "absolutely".