That said, how can we guarantee that the content-producers are going to be reimbursed for thier product? My suggestion is multitiered.
The first step is the pre-production user contract. I'm a record company and I've just signed a famous pop star for a new album. Now, before I get them in a studio, or lock myself into giving them any money, I instead do this: I announce publicly that I've got this artist, want to make this album- but I won't unless I can get ten million users signed into a user-contract. The user contract stipulates this: the user is responsible for paying the company a fee with the understanding that the user is going to recieve the product- if the product is produced. If the production stipulations (# of users in contract, total income from user contracts, etc) are met. If not, the users get total refunds.
The second tier is normal distribution channels and online distribution. This works like normal, gleaning whatever profits they can from these modes.
Now, this terraces profit from albums, but it also guarantees said albums generating profit. If no one is willing to front cash for the album, it doesn't get made. If they are, and it stinks, well the company already made base profit anyway. But it also means that the company will have a much harder time drumming up funds for the next album.
Either way, for a single album, the initial profit- the user-contract income- is flat. That much is "a sure thing". However, if the album is very good, if the artist really takes off, then you're looking at second-tier profits from traditional distribution, merchandising, etc.
Everyone wins in this layout, without DRM.