I obviously listen to an awful lot of new stuff. Much of it prior to release. Doesn't take a genius to realize that I download a fair amount of metal. Most of it from obscure bands that can't be found at the local FYE or who didn't even release their albums in the United States. That said, I also download albums by artists who aren't terribly hard to find, buying the albums I like. Above all, I like having something tangible in my hands; I may be a dinosaur in that respect but I like holding the CD or vinyl in my hands, reading the lyrics and thank-you's, staring at the artwork. I get extra excited when the album comes with a bonus DVD or some other freebie. My take on downloading is that it's generally a good thing; I have been able to listen to a ton of obscure and out of print albums by artists though downloading. I've also purchased many albums because I enjoyed them after downloading then; anyone who runs into me at MDF is most likely to see me at a CD table with my Zune and a handful of CDs in hand, comparing the wares of venders to what I've digitally acquired. What's important is that if you're downloading the music and you enjoy it, that you support the artist by purchasing a t-shirt, going to a show, buying a CD, etc. I don't think any artist should perform metal to make money, and in fact I expect for most bands it is a money losing proposition. Metal is performed because the musicians playing it NEED to play it and they feel so utterly compelled to create this specific form of art. Metal isn't about rock-stardom; metal is for the people who weren't "cool" enough to be rock n' roll. That said, when an artist puts their sweat and creativity and effort into creating art, they deserve appreciation and that's where buying merch and music and going to shows comes in.
So today I read this article about how a company in Panama called World Digital purchased the rights to the album "This is Where it Ends" by the band All Shall Perish, and are suing downloaders of this album AGAINST the wishes of the band themselves. It's pretty fucked up that the band's label, Nuclear Blast (which is basically the European office for Century Media) sold off the rights to ASP's music, without the band's consent, to a copyright troll who purchased it for the sole reason of suing file-sharers for illegal distribution despite the band's public demands that such action not take place. It particularly bothers me because this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen in underground metal (and yes, ASP still qualifies as an underground band). I know from my brief time in radio that promo albums can be sent to stations in such a way as to prevent DJ's, station employees, and other privileged people from leaking them online (the most common way is to divide one song into 10 tracks on a CD so you end up with a 10 song, 99 track album which makes ripping and forming single songs a hassle most people are too lazy to bother with); metal labels don't copy-protect promos because they WANT the word of mouth to get around (because let's be real, metal radio airs on college stations at 1am on a Tuesday...). So I find it a bit hypocritical for metal labels to essentially be responsible for the leaking of albums themselves to then sell the rights to the music to a copyright troll such as World Digital so metal fans can be sued for the crimes of curiosity and impatience.
Having said that, I guess I can provide the following advice for seeking out new albums and new artists: Don't use BitTorrent programs. And please, support the artists you enjoy, and delete the ones you don't, but do not re-upload and redistribute them.
And as far as All Shall Perish and "This is Where it Ends" goes; I downloaded and then bought it. It's more death-core than death metal, but I thought it was an alright album. The fact that the band is fighting this lawsuit on behalf of their fans, including downloaders, makes me a bigger fan.