A return to patronage

After reading the recent Wired report on The Pirate Bay, I had a thought: will, after everything shakes out legally, the copyright battles lead us back to a form of patronage?

Imagine a world where individuals pay artists directly, without the corporate middle man eating the artists profits. If I like a song, I can send the artist a micropayment via my computer or cellphone saying “thanks”. Music could be shared, and musicians could be rewarded by increased attendance at their live performances, sales of other merch, and the goodwill of the fans. I know that I for one would be FAR more likely to paypal $20 a couple of times a year directly to Ryan Adams or Counting Crows than I would to buy their CDs. The CD feels dirty by the time it hits shelves, and the reality is that the artists see very little of the actual cash made by their work.