Despite A Huge Drop In Revenue, RIAA Execs Still See Large Payouts

Riaa-logoThe Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) recently submitted its latest tax filling to the IRS, which covers the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011. Strikingly noticeable is a huge drop in revenue for the anti-piracy organization. In two years time, membership dues from music labels have been reduced by 50% and have dropped to below $30 million per year, due in large part to consolidation from the majors. Despite this, the group’s top executives continue to earn huge salaries that easily place them among the top 1% of earners.

As reported by TorrentFreak, the total RIAA revenue in this latest filing is down from $51.35 million to $29.1 million in just two years. Membership dues paid by music labels have dropped from $49.76 million to $27.88 million in the same period, and clearly have a lot to do with the decrease in revenue. The RIAA is now an organization of 72 employees, down from 117 just two years ago.

The total amount paid out to these employees was $12.7 million, but a large chunk of that went to the organization’s top two executives, CEO Cary Sherman and senior executive vice president Mitch Bainwol – each earning well over $1 million (Bainwol earned $1.75 million and Sherman earned $1.37 million). Other top earners included Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $696,036, Steve Marks (General Counsel) with $675,528, and Mitch Glazier (Public Policy & Industry Relations) with $599,661.

Spending figures are also worth taking a look at it. One that has remained consistent over the years is the RIAA's lobbying budget at $2.3 million. However, the group’s legal fees have dropped drastically from $16.50 million to $2.34 million in just two years. This huge drop  is the RIAA’s biggest cut in spending, and has a lot to do with the fact that they are no longer pursuing lawsuits of individual file-sharers.

The RIAA’s goals since inception have been to protect the intellectual property rights and the First Amendment rights of artists, to “perform research” about the music industry, and to monitor and review relevant laws, regulations and policies. But could these latest numbers perhaps be a sign that the RIAA is losing strength? Clearly the organization is getting much less support from major labels, and considering that times have changed so heavily in the past decade alone, the 60 year old organization’s influence isn’t perhaps as widely felt anymore. Moreover, considering how much money they’re paying their employees, one would hope that those dwindling resources would be more wisely spent in the future.

Hisham Dahud is a Senior Analyst for Hypebot.com. Additionally, he is the head of Business Development for Fame House and an independent musician. Follow him on Twitter: @HishamDahud

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