Since money and the new music biz seem to be the hot topics this week on the Cream, I thought I'd chime in with something only slightly relevant, and ultimately pretty pointless.
Concerning the problem of bands losing income due to illegal downloading, there's one school of thought floating around the fringes that intends to help alleviate the problem and stick it to "the man," whose greedy, evil ways have served to justify music piracy for decades. It still involves stealing as much media as you want, but later, you repent with a few monetary Hail Marys, sending your money (usually significantly less than you would have spent being legal) directly to the bands and artists themselves.
One such proponent of this philosophy is a blog titled www.dearrockers.org. Dear Rockers encourages fans who've stolen music or snuck into shows to write one of these bands a letter, mail it along with five bucks, and take a picture of it that can be posted on the blog. It's mildly entertaining to read, but they haven't posted very many examples, telling me either someone really sucks at updating the blog, or this practice really isn't catching on.
Obviously, sending a fiver to just one random band of potentially hundreds you've pirated isn't going to fix things, but as long as you're willing to believe the opposite, it seems to work pretty well at cleansing a bothersome conscience. You know, kind of like how some of us see recycling or praying. In the meantime, I don't think anyone's complaining about random strangers sporadically sending them enough cash for a six pack or a pack of smokes.