MP3's have helped so many heavy metal bands gain exposure and allow them to tour. Most metalheads have found new bands by talking with friends and then downloading albums. This in turn gives the band enough exposure to allow them to tour. On tour they actually don't make much per concert, most make about 100-200 which would be losing money. However, at these shows they are able to sell album and merchandise. Can anyone think of another genre that people are so willing to advertise for? There are so many people walking around with metal band t-shirts and hoodies, and, like me, all they own are band t-shirts.
In talking to most of these bands, they are happy you hear of them through downloading MP3's. Most of these bands can't do it for a living, they have regular jobs so they just want their music out there. And every once in a while a band gets enough exposure that can do it for a living. But the only way to get that exposure in through the internet. Hell, you ask any metal band how they found their musical influences and how they find new bands, they'll all tell you they downloaded the music.