RIAA Tells Fans To Stop Nibbling

In a post on the RIAA blog, VP of Reaserach Joshua P. Friedlander titled "Nobody Stole The Pie" argues that the decline in music sales is like the story of the same name by Sonia Levitin. In it the town of Little Digby annually bakes a giant lollyberry pie.  When one year the celebrated pie is gone, all the townsfolk who had picked away at it bit by bit claim it was “Not I who stole the pie".

image from www.ruthys.com "… the top 10 albums in 2009 sold a total of 21 million copies, and the top 10 tracks totaled 36 million paid downloads.  But the top 10 albums in 1999 totaled 55 million in sales ..top sellers fell by more than 50%. 

In the last 10 years, the major record labels’ direct employment in the United States fell from about 25,000 people in 1999 to less than 10,000 today – a drastic reduction of over 60% in people who enable the creation and development of new music."

…So if the investments dry up, and fewer new artists are able to be developed, will filesharers who stole bit by bit look at each other and say it was “Not I” who stole the pie?"

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  1. The beautiful thing about losing 15,000+ jobs in the industry is that you end up with only the smartest and best people developing music, while the others have moved on to provide value elsewhere.
    The RIAA’s clients are forced to develop objectively great artists, not artists that have a subjective expectation of being great. Investments from the major labels will likely dry up, but those investments will come from other sources (i.e. artist’s managers).
    Nice try Joshua, but misleading customers with moral guilt trips will not put more money in the pockets of your clients.

  2. “…a drastic reduction of over 60% in people who enable the creation and development of new music.”
    PSFFT! See now, that is the problem right there. That whole statement is false. I think most of the people who lost their jobs at labels had absolutely nothing to do with creation & development. I think that at a good label maybe 3% of those employed ever have anything to do with creation & development.
    Also, is the murderous irony of a fairytale analogy putting a sick little grin on anyone else’s face?
    Tick Tock Tick Tock Clarice,

  3. Major labels
    -The president of the label was always a former accountant who couldn’t keep a beat
    – The head of A&R was always the son of the woman who worked in shipping or used to play in a band that never had any success on the street
    – The sales reps were always ex-used car salesman
    “drastic reduction of over 60% in people who enable the creation and development of new music.”
    ARE YOU KIDDING – good riddence

  4. I’ve also read that, at least in the hip-hop world, a rapper only needs 1,000 loyal fans to be sittin nice. Loyal fans were considered a fan who would buy everything you put out in a year. I am like that for several artists. Look at Lil Wayne….dude puts out how much free music, yet is the most paid hip-hop artist, make many millions, so get out of here about free music killing artistic output. His management are also probably paid. He may be an outlier however, but I would bet a lot of the non-major label acts are doing well enough to keep making music, which is fine.

  5. Yay! Now there’s hope for the rest of us.
    The majors keep blaming everything on downloads, when really it was bloated payrolls, ridiculous business practices and crappy product that killed ’em.
    Don’t believe they hype. The decline of the majors is a good thing for us musicians. Celebrate the possibilities and DIY!

  6. Even the stats here are misleading:
    The top ten albums (2009) sold 21 million copies. The top ten albums (1999) totaled $55 million in sales. 21 Million copies at $9.99 = $210 in sales. That is certainly not a decrease.
    If you are going to make a point, try at least to think it through. Otherwise, you waste everyone’s time.
    Bruce, I would have expected you to point that out!

  7. … and in the town of Little Digby, musician/bakers by the tens of thousands went home and baked pies, and pretty soon there were 100,000 berry pies! 🙂
    If the lack of big-label investment was choking off the development of musicians, then we should not see the number of album releases exploding as they are. The RIAA’s tacit position is that if the music is not released on a major label, it isn’t happening.
    Glenn comment above: um, no. No way that dollar value of the Top Ten albums increased 4x from 1999 to 2009, which is what you are proposing. While I haven’t got the numbers immediately at hand, a decline in Top Ten sales from 55 million copies to 21 million copies over the decade is consistent with what has been reported in oodles of places.

  8. RobGD is the perfect example – we’ve witnessed first hand the flourishing of a bourgeois musician class – part timers and mid-lifers who are scratching out a living on the level long tail playing field that is e-commerce 2.0; if there were no BandCamp, RobGD would’ve spent his $20 bucks on 2 mass marketed, mass manufactured CD’s at Tower. We live in a different reality now – These new platforms have done for music what the steel capitalist fist of the labels never did: allow communities to develop and share music (I am not anti-capitalist, simply stating their profit motive stole the soul of music creation and community) The RIAA has it completely wrong – give people valuable, unique music and a place to purchase that music, in a way that actually supports the artist – and they will buy.

  9. RIAA, i´m one of the BILLIONS of people who is stealing your pie. and i´m god damn proud of it.
    change, or die.
    (nowadays you bring more lawsuites than criativity into the picture so if you go away i´ll be happy like a kid, suckers)

  10. This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard. The people who stay in music are people who are capable of whoring out their artists to major corporations. The little guys, who have zero access to this kind of money, have to rely on album sales, and they are closing.
    And independent artists have to fund their recording on their own increasingly, and rely on guys to market them who work 10 products at a time and will focus on the ones that will sell.
    Either way, artists lose.

  11. In 1999 ‘mp3’ was the most searched for term on google, displacing ‘sex’. yet it was not until 2007 that mp3s were available for sale, and even then only in select markets. That’s the music business in a nutshell and why they have been hemorrhaging.
    It’s the old case of telling the consumer what he/she wants instead of giving them what they want.

  12. That’s what I’m saying. Mp3 is old fashioned. The future is in lossless formats like flac because they are the real deal.

  13. There is no dollar sign in front of 55 million, not in Bruce’s quote nor in the original article. It should be pretty obvious that it refers to 55 million units sold in 1999.
    Anyway, the more important issue is that all of those numbers were based on Soundscan, which was clearly much more accurate/relevant in 1999 than in 2009. I don’t think anyone could argue with that a significant percentage of music sales occur off of the ‘radar’…

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