Oh there are definitely gray areas. I think the emergence of the creative commons license is a very big step in getting a handle on the whole piracy issue.
I was thinking about how neat it’d be if somebody started selling FLAC or similar high-bitrate discographies on external hard drives. It would reduce cost, as hard-copies of rare recordings are few and far between and the costs of obtaining them are enormous. Take for example a Bob Dylan or Bob Marley discography, upload it to the the hard drive and price it according to some established guideline (per song, per album,etc.) rather then on the rarity of a particular album and tack on the cost of the hard drive. Sure it’d be priced at a couple of hundred dollars for the larger discographies out there (could even be used for a label’s entire catalogue) but it’d still be cheaper then paying 10,20,30 and up for an album.
As far as implementation, I figured proceeds made minus the hard drives and acquiring full discogs would be simply donated to charity of the artist’s choosing. Like it doesn’t make any sense to me that people, families, are profiting from a dead man’s glory. I would rather pay for an album knowing it wasn’t going to simply add to a relatives coffers and I’m sure a lot of the established artists have some connection to charity, even if it’s only for tax purposes. For label catalogues, it could simply be used to pay for recording costs and wages of bands/groups represented under the labels.
It’s still just an idea, but it definitely is something that, given enough guidance, could work. I don’t know all of the legal aspects of it, most of the problems would be related to getting the distribution companies to sign off on it, but that could….maybe be offset by a slow project development until it caught on and they’d only be forced to adopt it as part of their distribution options.
I’d like to see the numbers for show turnouts over the last decade, to see if they’ve gone up or gone down.
The whole piracy issue comes down to big recording companies investing hundreds of thousands of dollars into relatively unknown acts that don’t, as a result, have very strong followings. They’re basically banks for musicians, and the musicians have to pay it back by selling records. When that fails cause people realize the rest of the album stinks through piracy and the bands are basically glorified one-hit wonders, then the companies lose money. If the quality of commercially-backed music was re-established through sensible backing of artists, not the lump-sum loans and high recording costs associated with new artists. If a group is capable of putting on good live shows and they’ve become recognized for the performance, rather than the current standard of “sound”, the industry would bounce back because people, for the most part, can show their appreciation by attending shows and buying records.