Also, you're really overreacting, for the record.
I have well over 250 CDs, and I enjoy almost all of them from start to finish, and my list grows larger every month. I contend that the problem isn't with music at large, but with your devouring of what the radio shovels into you.
The US is actually quite large, my state is larger than England by more than 7,000 miles, and I often find myself needing to transport more than just myself.
Don't get me wrong here, I actually like the sound of a car that gets (supposedly) 300 miles to the gallon, it's just not practical for most road trip situations, because you're usually caring yourself and and at least some stuff or other people.
At this point, I've come to the conclusion that this fanbase was not actually a hardcore group. They were a bunch of casual gamers who just played the same game (or two) a lot.
Basically, a hardcore gamer is someone who plays all kinds of games. RPGs, First Person Shooters, Plaformers, Action/Adventure, Strategy, Fighting, etc. The way Microsoft defined this "Hardcore" userbasee is inaccurate (if you ask me, anyway), as this userbase primarily just plays shooters, and not much else. This, mixed with he aging demographic of gamers, led to "hardcore" games being boiled down to gory shooters, and very little else.
So yes, casual party games may spell the end for gory shooters. But that's because casual games have a certain attraction, particularly for people like me. I used to be really into gaming, but now adays, I almost never pick up a controller without someone else being around. Part of it is a genuine lack of interest in playing most console games (because "Hardcore" became that gory first person shooter, instead of any good game with depth to it), and most of it is having a god damned life. Once you have other things to do (such has hanging out with friends and table topping, playing guitar, working, classes, etc.) gaming becomes a more boring form of entrainment. Almost all of the games directed at the "Hardcore" crowd are first person shooters that all play the same, and eventually it becomes a matter of simply ignoring such things.
The only truly satisfying game that I've experienced in a long time is Rock Band 2. It's got that difficulty, but it's also great for pick up and play by yourself and with friends. My personal opinion is that game developers need to stop trying to separate "Hardcore" from casual, because the results of interleaving the two can be pretty damn good.
You really do have to start somewhere.
I'm also saying to people who believe that CDs and other physical media are valueless, that they are essentially mistaken.
Granted, it's still not the best deal in the world, but it makes life a lot easier.
When it's 1:00am the morning, the band is done playing, and the bartender shouts "last call," I don't really care what the band's website is. Just give me and my friends the standard deal: shirt+CD for $20. That'll get you the gas money to get to the next town. If CDs go away, you're fucked. What are you going to do, give me a piece of paper with your website address on it?
Quoted for truth. This is another part of why I feel that CDs are still an important medium for musicians, and believe that they will continue to be important.
The problem with your line of thought is that you're not taking into account the fact that Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails and Saul Williams already have or had fanbases, and if they didn't, they were supported by someone who did (aka Trent Reznor).
Basically, from my perspective, digital distribution could lead to the end of music as we know it. So that's a bit extreme, it's really more like music will become harder to make and tour with.
Record labels are something to be satiated and dealt with, in the eyes of an upstart musician who is still trying to get his first band started. They foot the start up bill for tours, which can often be too pricey to deal with, and they also pay for time in the recording studio. Studio time can be really expensive, and there's just not a lot anyone can do about that. There's always the option of at home recording, however, I don't know if any of you guys have ever tried to record at home, but without at least a few hundred dollars of equipment, you're going to have a hard time getting anywhere. Especially if you want it to actually sound good.
You do have to have music available before you can put it up for download, and you have to money to record it before it can become available.
Then there's also a certain factor of presentation. As a fan of progressive rock and heavy metal, I often find myself listening to albums as a singular entity, and when digital distribution has its way, there's no real uniformity to hold that experience together. The idea of the record as a whole rather than the single song is severely damaged by downloading just one song and not getting the rest of the pieces. I plan on writing a few concept albums before I die, and I know that I damn sure want them to be listened to as a whole. To me, the problem is that this artform of storytelling in music is going to die out because of a distribution method. That seems like a gigantic waste, doesn't it?
Something else that's nice about physical media is that feeling of actually having something. I dislike paying for downloads because you literally have nothing to show for it in the long run, as hard drives get wiped and passwords get lost, not to mention that you usually end up paying for a low quality mp3 or a proprietary equivalent thereof. In closing, digital distribution could literally kill off certain parts of the music listening experience (if internet induced ADD hasn't already).