If I am enjoying some music, do I owe the artist for that enjoyment? (Owe in the sense of "some money or obligation is due" rather then the sense of "resulting from".)
Here's a principle to live by:
Value given for value received.
If you stand and listen to a busker, toss a few coins into the hat or case.
If you listen to a song on the radio, remember that it's been paid for by advertising (generally). If the commercial isn't actively annoying or stupid, let it play -- you're the product, the music is the lure, and the customer is the advertiser, and if you like the music, you want the customer to keep paying, right?
If you buy the CD or pay for a download from iTunes, you've purchased _a_ product. Treat it like a book -- you might loan it to friends, you might copy small portions of it to use in your journal or other personal work -- but remember that it isn't yours to distribute widely (yet).
Here's where things start to get tricky... there's a lot of crap out there. A lot of the music is utter drek, and you deserve the three minutes of your life back after listening to something that purports to be "culture", much less paying $18 for a CD or $10 for an album.
That's not good value.
With the advent of cassette recorders, we had a try-before-you-buy model: friends would make friends mix-tapes as a way of informing them about artists they liked. If the friend liked that artist, he'd be inclined to go out and buy that artist's work. This was a good thing, and while technically stealing, it was more like grassroots advertising.
The advent of anonymous file-sharing broke the try-before-you-buy model -- broke it hard. People amassed music collections they'd never be able to listen to, solely as virtual currency in the the file-sharing systems. They're receiving value without giving it in one frame of reference, and engaged in some quite serious value exchanges in another frame of reference.
Others announced that they'd no longer be wasting money actually *buying* music, when all this "free" music was available. What's amazing is that these sorts of people tend to hold very dim views of "leeches" -- those who only take shared music, and never share their own. This is the whole purpose of technologies like BitTorrent -- to MAKE people share, rather than to simply consume at the edges. The hypocrisy is rather stunning.
And now we have the new generation that has never bothered with trying to own music. It's just there, freely available, practically an entitlement -- modulo some jerk whining about how it's theft. The implicit agreement has changed: artists are now supposed to create content for all to share -- and some artists are unhappy about this.
The artists and their representatives changed the agreement first. Thank you Sonny Bono.
Copyrights used to be quite limited. And now they look to be effectively forever. That's not the agreement! And when one side unilaterally changes a contract, surely it's fair for the other side to do the same thing.
And that, I think, is where we're at. We had a sort of value-given-for-value-received arrangement, and then one side broke it, and now we have the backlash. A new arrangement is needed, a new agreement between artists, infrastructure, and consumers. We've broken the old one beyond repair.
We need a new arrangement. A new agreement. And it needs to have buy-in from all players, not just the one with the upper hand at the moment. Dictating unreasonable terms never results in a lasting solution.
 If it is actively annoying or stupid, switch stations. Don't reward advertisers for producing crap advertisements. Their product needs to be entertaining as well. That's part of the game, after all; paying for the music is only half the bargain. They buy a spot, not your actual attention.
 Or iTunes-like service, of course.
 Cost of production and distribution keep going down, and yet the retail prices don't really change. Costs of distribution from an iTunes-style store is pretty cheap, and yet the 'album price' is still more than half. Someone's getting ripped off, and it's clear that value isn't being given. But that's a separate issue.
 Or did so quietly, but then, we wouldn't know about such folks.
 I suppose artists can call the bluff of the consumers, and go on strike for a generation. Let the talented people go get jobs, and leave the field to the talentless hacks.
 And now we can't have anything nice.