The music industry has changed more in the past 10 years, than ever in history. So while Artist's, labels, and record exec's have been forced to adapt to a new climate, the fan has been able to put forth less effort than each generation prior to get the music they want. For instance, I come from a generation that would stay up all night listening to the radio so we could record our favorite song on casette tape.
Now everything is a point and click away, downloadable or streaming. It's changed the way listeners interact with their music. Everything is at their fingertips. What it's also changed is the value the industry places on those interactions. Each click, like, share, tweet, +1, or whatever icon is found beside an article or media file have a value. Comments are worth more. These interactions determines how close to the top an Artist comes on a search engine, which brings more hits, which will inspire more interactions.
Interactions mean people are paying close enough attention to get involved- attracting sponsors to the Artist's content. Ideally the listener is engaged enough to purchase music or merchandise from the Artist. But to a lesser extent if their engaged enough to leave a comment, or hit the like button, and share, their attracting more attention to their Artist... in turn attracting sponsors.
To the Artist, EVERY click, like, or whatever the case may be is INVALUABLE. They appreciate every one and for a second feel like they reached someone that may lead to more.
To the listener... it cost's you nothing. It's simply a matter of recognising how much influence you have over an independent Artist's career and placing your support where you see fit. But choose wisely, you're responsible for what will eventually end up on the radio.
for instance... feel free to do all four on this post.