Making money off album sales is becoming harder and harder. Artist should realize that those days are over, or are at least coming to an end. You can't fight technology, you can't fight something that is easier and more efficient. You can shut down these downloading sites but another will always pop up.
The only thing I would say will still remain alive are vinyls because they have a nostalgic and vintage appeal to them, they are more of a collectible item, technically CDs can be too but they just don't have that appeal. But for the mass majority, I don't think the CD will ever have a future. I have run into kids who don't even know what a CD is cuz all they do is listen to digital music.
If you look at the sheer practicality of it, must of us are rockin mp3 players or listen to music on our phones. Why by a CD that you will have to rip and upload into your mp3 player/phone when you could have just got the digital version to begin with? When you release a digital album you can make more content available, such as more tracks, a PDF of a book, a short movie, all your music videos, you could never do that with hard copy music unless you and your fans are willing to pay an arm and a leg, not to mention all the physical space it will take up. Just look at the Beatles complete set CD version, the high cost of it is mostly due to manufacturing and distribution cost. I listen to a lot of music, about 175 Gigs of it in my hard drive, thats like a room full of CDs all crammed into a 4 by 6 inch external hard drive.
Sometimes I run into random rappers on the street trying to sell me their mixtape of Album and I think it's just a waste of time and money. They spent all this money on pressing an outdated delivery of music. In my opinion (and this is my opinion, i'm aware many disagree), artist should rather give their music out for free digitally, build a fan-base, then once you have a good following, sell your tunes on itunes and amazon, etc. But as I mentioned in the beginning, making money from your album is becoming harder. Now a days its all about show money, licensing your music to TV shows movies and Ads, and increasing the worth of your brand so you can cash in on some endorsement money. This is where music is going, you can either fight it and languish at the bottom, or go with the flow and capitalize off it.
Speaking of free digital music
. I encourage ya'll to download my free mixtape, 'AFTER THE JUMP', available here: http://www.jtwizmusic.com