RIAA’s revenue declines by nearly half, tax records show
Between 2009 and 2011, the controversial music industry group saw a decline in revenue of over 40 percent.
Is a key music industry association losing influence among its members?
The Recording Industry Association of America, which has spent much of the past decade in an ongoing fight against online piracy, saw its revenues fall from by 44 percent in a two year period, primarily due to a decline in member dues, according to a report by file-sharing news blog TorrentFreak.
The group reported $51.35 in revenue in 2009, on member dues that Digital Music News reports at $49.76 million. In a report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011, the group reported revenues of $29.1 million, with member dues totaling $27.88 million.
The report was only released recently after a long delay, but includes a period — the first half of 2011 — in which the the music industry was on an upswing, with a 1 percent total increase in revenue.
As a result of the declining revenue, the group has had to cut back in a number of places. For example, its staff has declined from 117 to 72 during the period, though top executive salaries — including for former CEO Mitch Bainwol (who made $1.75 million) and current CEO Cary Sherman (who made $1.37 million) remained high.
The group’s legal fees declined precipitously, from $16.5 million to $2.34 million, corresponding with the ending of the group’s lawsuits against file-sharers. The lawsuit campaign, which led to an overall increase in U.S. copyright lawsuits between the years 2003 and 2008, targeted individual consumers rather than networks.
Despite the decline in the RIAA’s revenue, the music industry at large is increasing its spending on lobbying efforts.