Downloading music, or more specifically illegally downloading music has pretty much become the standard practice for an everyday music fan. I know I'm no saint, although if it's one of may favorite groups or artists releasing something new I'll try to but the actually record from a record store. Most people, though, find it much more convenient to just hop on a torrent and download some music. Perhaps they're really and don't have time, or what if they can't afford it. Most commonly people can't afford to spend seventeen dollars, or twelve dollars, or whatever it may be on some music they could easily get for free on the computer without even leaving there bedrooms. This is one of the big faults I think the major record companies make.
It's no secret that it's remarkably cheap to manufacture a cd. It does cost money to actually make and produce the body of work that is the album, but if the record companies weren't so greedy and made the albums cheaper I think they could sell a lot more. This is just my slightly educated opinion of course.
I don't think it would be correct for the majors to just disappear completely though. When Myspace started and bands could put their music up everyone got excited and said "Yippee, we don't need them big ol' labels no more!" (or something to that effect), but in reality we still do. How would bands make money? They could license their songs to commercials or movies sure, but how would anyone even know hear the song in the first place without the major labels marketing money.
It's a tricky dilemma that we're all in at the minute, that I don't think we'll see the end of for quite sometime.
On a lighter note here is some music for you to enjoy that you may not have heard before. It's a song written by Paul Weller and his band The Jam, called Carnation with Liam, Noel, and Whitey from Oasis, some other guy singing and playing guitar, and the man himself Paul Weller playing keys. Enjoy!