My observation is based on a lot of trying and failing, as well as being a moderate user of filesharing myself — mainly to check out stuff I read about but cannot get my hands on in the local store back here in Norway.
My concern is about this argument, which has been seen in most any debate about this subject for the last 10 years, usually formulated roughly as below:
"Filesharing will provide massive marketing to new artists, and drive forward a new and more dynamic music market."
I beg to differ.
One thing that has become more and more obvious to me is that the power of the market more than ever is still safely held by the biggest corporations in the music biz. I will try to explain why.
If we use TPB as an example, they have about 10M visitors per day, which gives us a good base for pulling out stats. If you look at their Top100 list at any given time, you will find exactly 0.00% artists that are not (major) label signed. This might not be very surprising, as TPB naturally would reflect the music market in general.
But if one starts thinking about it, it has the ironic effect that TPB is a driving force of consolidating the market power of the major labels rather than driving forward any new music. The conclusion has to be that "pirates" are just as little resistant to the major label marketing as any other person. Even though there are thousands and thousands of artists out there that want their music to be shared and listened to, they are widely and effectively ignored by the masses. In fact, one might say that TPB and the likes are countering the development of new markets, simply because the gap between the heavily marketed music and 'the others' is wider than ever, when the bare naked truth about peoples taste in music is put into such a system.
This puts a heavy responsibility on the pirates, one that I don't think they are aware of nor able to handle. The day we find the top crop of the aforementioned artists that are actually free to share on the top 100 list, we have a winner. Until then the only thing that we will see "die" is the small indies that cannot benefit from heavy marketing. Thus, more market power is given to the major labels, and all of us reading this will be dead and buried long before they stop making a reasonable income from selling oldies and goldies, radio play, publishing, etc.
The actual 'mystery' is why the major labels don't see this themselves, and continues to take services like TPB to court. They are, and I'm pretty sure about this, the actual winners in the ongoing war. The price paid is extending the status quo when it comes to growing new markets.
So, ladies and gentlenerds: Are we really driving forth the music scene of the future? Or are we actually turning into useful idiots keeping the arch-enemy strong and healthy while the suppliers of correctives (indies, free music) are effectively kept out of the loop? What could possibly be done (technically or socially) to provoke changes to this and hit the major labels where it actually hurts?"