RIAA Revenue Dwindles As Labels Cut Back

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The latest RIAA tax filing shows that the revenue generated by the anti-piracy group has reached a new low. In just two years the membership dues from music labels have been cut in half and have now sunk to below $30 million a year. While the group has 72 employees, payouts to the top two executives including CEO Cary Sherman amount to more than $3 million, some 25% of the total wage bill.

riaaThe RIAA has submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

Despite the long reporting delay, the figures are well worth a look as they show a massive decline in revenue for the music group. In just two years the RIAA’s entire budget was almost cut in half.

The total revenue in the latest filing is $29.1 million, down from $51.35 million two years earlier. This drop in revenue is a direct result of the dwindling membership dues paid by music labels, from $49.76 million to $27.88 million in the same period.

The effects of the decline in revenue are also visible in the massive cuts in personnel.

In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 72 people on the payroll compared to 117 two years earlier. In total these employees earned $12.7 million of which nearly 25% went into the pockets of the top two executives.

The top earner in the year ending March 2011 was Mitch Bainwol (CEO) with $1.75 million a year with a working week of 50 hours. Current CEO Cary Sherman (then President) came in second with $1.37 million.

Other high income employees were Neil Turkewitz (EVP International), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Mitch Glazier (Public Policy & Industry Relations) with $696,036, $675,528 and $599,661 respectively.

Looking at other expenses we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over the years.

The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $2.34 million in just two years. The latter is the area where the RIAA cut back the most, in part by stopping their lawsuits against individual file-sharers.

All in all the downward income trend clearly signals that there’s less support from the major music labels. While the RIAA is by no means defunct yet, the organization isn’t getting any stronger either.

The full 2010/2011 filing is available here.


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