In response to:
Getting close to the death of the big record labels, or at least the significant (and overdue) downfall of its influence on the state of the music industry, which they have abused for the past ten years or so, but not put more long-term commitment into bands that don't become megastars with their debut album, and other problems like that. If debut album sales were the only factor in label support historically, we would not have seen the rise of great bands like R.E.M. and U2, for example.
Downloads are more environmentally friendly too, though the physical product issue could be partially solved if they committed to using recycled or sustainable materials in their packaging. There would still be the carbon-releasing problems associated with shipping, of course, but I don't know how significant that really is, since the mail is being delivered regardless.
Putting those environmental issues aside, I consider this to be fair pay-back to these companies, which frankly earned their downfall. I'd like to see (ideally) the "illegal" downloads calm down and purchases increase, but maybe music shouldn't be about making millions in profits anyway. Great music is more accessible than ever because of the internet. One can discover new artists by following links in blogs, Youtube pages, Myspace, and elsewhere. The relevance of the big mega-labels is dissipating, and this is a good thing. Let them be the suppliers of the overproduced emotionless autotuned forgettable pop American Idol offshoots and copycats. But let us refrain from mourning that they are beginning to lose their ability to speak for the masses, let alone the music connoisseurs. They have their niche, and don't deserve our attention any longer.