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Question: supposing that you were a very nice person who wants to buy music, what is the "best" way to obtain that music with regards to supporting the artist?  (without, of course, going totally overboard.)

Knowing very little about this (but speculating anyway), I would have to say the best way is to either attend a concert and buy CDs there, or (the next best thing) buy CDs via the label or the label's web site.  I have done this once before, with somewhat satisfying results, and I see no reason not to do it again.  In fact, I'm going to with these 2 CDs.

I've noticed there is a severe lack of links to labels in favor of linking to cdnow or amazon.  Why this is, I'm not entirely sure yet.  (But I have a hunch or two.)  I'm having grand thoughts about making a web site that links albums to the "best" ways to buy them (i.e. the labels).  I'm not entirely sure what the best way to go about that is, but I think I might try something like this soon.  (input welcome.)
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