But the situation's been around like forever. I have to say, if someone's looking at making a living off recording their music and they've not heard about this yet, they're terminally thick and deserve all they get. And if they sign up for it knowing that's the way it works - well, if you stick your arm in the lion's mouth, don't complain if you get bitten. If artists didn't sign these kind of deals, then the record companies wouldn't be able to keep going with those conditions, but if they've got a steady stream of suckers ready to sign over their souls in exchange for airplay, then why should they change their methods?
Sorry Courtney, I admit the situation sucks, but you got yourself in there in the first place. If you don't like it then set up your own indie label, or join an existing indie label. As Frank says, if you don't play the game then they can't hold this over you.
Incidentally, what previously kept most bands going was fees from performing - money from recordings is a relatively new concept. Profits from tours organised by the artists go to the artists, not to the record company, so the answer is to PLAY MORE LIVE MUSIC. If they can't be bothered to (or just plain can't) play live, then my sympathy runs very thin.