You know you're an iN when a quick response turns into a lost hour of sleep and something to this extent...
Record companies existed and exist because poor guitar-playing song writers from Nebraska and junkie saxophone virtuosos in New York didn't have the means to record and distribute their art. So they get a contract and a Producer gives them thousands of dollars, and a bunch of engineers who worked their asses off to get degrees and get this job are hired to manage all the expensive equipment required to make the album. Then you've got a bunch more people who put bread on the table for their families in manufacturing and packaging. Then there are some guys with trucks who get up early and spend all day driving from the factory to the store. Then there's the record store owner- some nice, ambitious guy who worked his way from shit with the dream of owning a record store, and now he finally does. Then he probably has a few guys who help out around the store and there are millions of other stores around the country- around the world. Thousands of artists, producers, engineers, truck drivers, and so on--
-- then you, me and a few million other arrogant bastards decide they're creativity-stifiling assholes and they don't deserve to be paid. So we get on piratebay, and mediafire and whatever. The record store closes down and the owner has to get a job at McDonalds, his wife leaves him and gets the kids and he drinks himself to death after Regions forecloses on his house. The engineers' vocational skills are outdated and so they head over to Wal-Mart and ultimately tens-of-thousands of hard working people are put out of work, many of whom aren't as lucky to spend the rest of their lives in a drive-thru window.
Who gives two shits, they're creativity stifling bastards right?
Obviously, I'm drawing on extremes here, but the fact is our actions have consequences and although its easier to assume "the record companies are assholes" in truth those companies are made up of thousands of individuals who can't pay their mortgages or their kid's college tuition because people like us decided to take their products for free rather than pay them for the hours/day/months they spent working on them. You can call that stealing, pirating or voluntary file sharing. It is what it is.
Beyond that, what happens when they all go out of business? (assuming that happens) Will you suddenly say "Okay the assholes are gone, I'll pay for music now", or would you keep downloading it for free even when the artist is the producer is the engineer is the distributor? How can any artist afford to do that when their records don't generate any revenue? Before you download music, do you actually check and see what company made it or if it was released independently? or do you just assume they're assholes who don't deserve your money?
Well that's my 2 shits.
PS. You say they're creativity stifling assholes, but they allow people the tools to make and record music. They have to make it commercial because if they didn't it would flop and someone else would commercialize their music, out competing them, so they stifle creativity and make the artists appeal to popular tastes. If they didn't they would go out of business, and the music wouldn't be made in the first place. Is the producer to blame or the consumer? Or the system? It doesn't matter, because of you and me they're going out of business anyway.