A few years ago people with MP3 players had very little choice for where to get their music, and the downloads available were far too expensive. The last year has seen more online music stores open, and a variety of other methods starting to emerge, though none appear to have fully stemmed the appeal of using file-sharing networks to get tracks for free.
The entertainment section of the BBC News website states that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is to no longer sue suspected file-shares. This seems to reflect a wider acceptance by the music industry that things are not what they used to be, and the fragility of the physical media distribution system has been demonstrated by the problems Zavvi has had.
Some are backing a subscription model for music, with Sky expected to be the first to launch one for its broadband subscribers in the UK. Whether people will be willing to pay enough to make this viable at a time when stores are reporting a widespread reining in of spending is open to question. Some artists appear to have embraced the online model, to make their websites an extension of playing live gigs which are still proving popular.
Which model will work for the music industry is anyone's guess, but it may just find that the days of new releases proving a hit simply because of some clever promotion work are over, and that includes paying people to write blogs on behalf of artists. Making money from music has never been easy. For all the successful artists there are many more struggling along. The difference now is that the big record companies are perhaps finally seeing the writing on the wall for the industry model that has succeeded for the last few decades.