Wolfgang, I posted my reply as a full blog entry, but I wanted to add one thing – I think that you’re seriously underestimating the importance of distributors.
Pandora for example is in some ways a more important brand than the acts it connects people to. People don’t feel like they’re listening to Miles Davis or whatever, they feel they’re listening to Pandora.
Distributors have personalities that can charm you or turn you off. The best can sell you a good experience based on music you’ve never heard before and will never hear again. For example Shuffler.fm delivers a good time around bands which appear and disappear almost instantly.
Consumers *think* they have a direct connection to the artist, but it is a pure illusion. By the time the fan connects to the artist very many intermediaries have been involved. The intermediaries hide their fingerprints because they don’t want to be seen. The fan is in a cloud and knows no better. But culture is heavily manufactured whether or not the machinery is visible.