While I tend to agree that music is a product, it is now largely being viewed as a service, and given the sheer volume of options we have as a consumer base to acquire music digitally, whether on a permanent basis through iTunes, Amazon, or artist’s websites, or as a streaming service such as Grooveshark, Pandora, or LastFM, we have moved away from supporting the record industry as a whole through the traditional brick and mortar store.

I personally still purchase albums on CD, though not as frequently as I once did that is for me, a matter of my general dissatisfaction with the resultant quality of the product and is also influenced by the availability of these streaming services that provide me the music I want with little effort, and little/no monetary commitment.

Artists such as Jonathan Coulton, MC Frontalot, MC Lars, The Offspring, Nine Inch Nails, and many others have spoken out in favor of file sharing, some releasing songs or whole albums for free through their websites and others writing songs lambasting the record industry for their slow to change nature.

Generally what we’re seeing at this point is that a song is a product, but music is a service. Most artists are moving to make more of their money from concerts and from merchandising. They still press CDs, but the allure isn’t just the music now. Musicians have taken to selling the art, the prestige of owning the album as much as its contents.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that many pop artists releasing albums with only three or four quality tracks and under 45 minutes of running time helped to spur the growth of piracy, and to help justify it to many early adopters, not believing that the artist has “earned” the money helps justify people stealing the music. After being burned by an artist on an album or two, I most certainly stream the entire next album before deciding to buy it now.