I'd tell them why music sales continue to decline.
And this is ignoring the whole matter of piracy.
It's simple. In the old days, I'd have to buy the entire CD, even if I wanted to listen to three songs. At $17.99 a pop. Remember those days? 60 to 70 minutes of music, some of which was just ... meh?
Flash forward a few years. You got an MP3 player. It was time to rip your CDs. How many songs did you not bother to rip?
Yeah, me too.
Flash forward to when iTunes set up shop. Now that I've realized I don't have to get the entire CD, I'm buying individual songs. And if I buy just the three songs I'm planning on listening to, I can get them for 99 cents each.
That's what I'm doing, and I'm probably not alone in this. When people replaced vinyl with CDs, they didn't have any choice. But replacing CDs with MP3 files is different. At this point it's possible to fill in the holes in my collection with some judicious and inexpensive downloading. And I don't have to pop for the entire album unless it's--well, "Spongeworthy" to use a Seinfeld-ism.
I'm guessing that in a hits-driven pop music culture, that's what a lot of people are doing. They're doing the equivalent of buying the singles and ignoring the albums.
There's nothing inherently wrong with this method of acquiring music. IMO that's the way the music business is heading. But it's a new model of music consumption, and the record executives need to figure it out.
They also need to stop all the whining. Because guys? Even the die-hard retrograde Baby Boomers aren't going back to the days of lying around on our beds listening to records, playing both sides of the album in order, reading all the lyrics, and trying to figure out the hidden references to illegal drugs.
Because we can just head over to iTunes and download "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," instead.