Well, I finally brought the whole album today. As Temple Stark helpfully notes, I could've bought the thing on iTunes. Someday, when I get off my lazy butt and upgrade to DSL/cable, I will be able to download whole albums relatively quickly. And someday, I'll be able to go without album covers, credits, and neat album packaging. Until then, I still have a soft spot for CDs. Especially considering how many records are really obscure and hard to find and probably nowhere to be found online.
That said, I still download MP3 files from iTunes and my personal favorite download site: eMusic. eMusic offers downloads from independent labels only. And, of course, the selection is phenomenal. Classic soul? British folk? Old school punk? New indie bands? They're all on eMusic.
Meanwhile the majors continue their descent into obsolescence. Glen Gamboa notes that Feist and Ingrid Michaelson found exposure via TV commercials for iPods and Old Navy, respectively. Twenty years ago, they would've branded as sellouts by assorted cranks like critic like Dave Marsh. But since radio sucks and music video channels are more interested in reality TV programming, artists have to look elsewhere for their songs to be heard.
These days, when I think of Britney Spears, she seems more and more like an artifact--the music-industry equivalent of an actress from in Old Hollywood. Along with the boy bands, she was a classic example of top-down success. Contrast to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and Feist, who started with grassroots support and worked their way up. In that way, the Internet has become the great equalizer in the music industry. Perhaps, more and more artists will bypass American Idol and take their careers into their own hands. It would certainly be preferable to facing a snarling Brit and a onetime Laker girl with no singing talent.