Music sales happens to be a subject that fascinates me, not so much as a Net person, but as a one-time record store person who had to worry about sales targets & such. I've been wondering what exactly the story is myself, because it's like a mystery that hasn't really been solved yet.
Being one of the vexed, I see where the industry has alienated most of us customers. Back in my day, the industry wrung its hands over blank cassettes with the same sort of stridency -- it's funny now. This is before root kits, bullshit copy protection, crappy sound quality on iTunes, crappy crap we get with physical CDs (compared to vinyl), remastering remastered remasters, and all the other scams. I don't believe a word out of the industry's collective mouth anymore.
But... I can't believe file sharing hasn't taken a bite into artist sales, I just can't. How much? I don't know. Is it the same chunk it might have been years ago? Would a lot of people pass on buying their favourite CDs from their fav artists because they can DL them? Would the Net really alter their buying patterns, or would the stuff they DL without buying be stuff they would never have bought anyway? Looking at the top 100 sales is a bit strange: kiddie pop sells, the adult music is so/so. That's a little strange since kids are more adept with the Net & DLing now (right?): you'd think they'd be DLing Britny Spears, not buying her albums.
No matter how outrageous their hypocrisy, I do think the artists have a right to their $$, but that right should not trump common sense, and they should do their homework on quick fix-its they think will address their concerns.