Major Labels

The Financial Rise And Fall Of RIAA & Major Labels

(Update 2) Revenue reports from RIAA member labels and edited notes compiled by Ccomp5950 via Techdirt. Be sure to read @billboardglenn's corrections and clarifications in the comments section.

Year: $ In Millions (revenue)
  • image from 1992: 9024
  • 1993: 10046.6 (price of CD players drop)
  • 1994: 12068
  • 1995: 12320.3
  • 1996: 12533.8
  • 1997: 12236.8
  • 1998: 13723.4 (Napster sued into bankruptcy)
  • 1999: 14651 (Work for hire controversy)
  • 2000: 14404
  • 2001: 13700 (iPod released in October)

  • 2002: 12,614.2 (Price Fixing lawsuit hits RIAA)
  • 2003: 11,854.4 (Grokster lawsuit, Mass lawsuits by RIAA )
  • 2004: 12,345.0 [Revenue Digital / Physical, BMG sells to Sony)
  • 2005: 12,296.9 [9%/91%]
  • 2006: 11,758.2 [83.9%/16.1%]
  • 2007: 10,370.0 [77%/23%]
  • 2008: 8,768.4 [66%/34%] (mass lawsuits end, EMI struggles)
  • 2009: 7,690.0 [59%/41%] (Layoffs hit RIAA)

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  1. The second biggest revenue increase between two consequent years was from 1997 to 1998, when Napster was sued into bankruptcy….
    clearly napster was killed the music business.

  2. Lots of errors in that time line. Obvious ones, too.
    The RIAA sued Napster in late 1999. (Shawn Fanning didn’t finish the code until June 1999, so the RIAA could not have sued it in 1998.) Label lawsuits followed in 2000.
    Napster filed for bankruptcy in 2002.
    The price-fixing lawsuits were *settled* in 2002. Those arose in 1999. Labels settled with the FTC over Minimum Advertised Pricing (aka price fixing) in 2000. Also, those lawsuits were against major labels, not the RIAA.
    Sony and BMG *merged* in 2004. (Sony bought BMG’s half of the joint venture in 2008.)

  3. Glenn,
    Thx for the corrections. Some days I think we should leave journalism to you pros. Others I’m glad there are so many alternatives. Be well.

  4. Why not correct the mistakes, obvious BIG errors, in the body of the post?
    Most bloggers want to be treated as journalists. Does Hypebot get press passes to events? If so, I imagine you do to so exercise some journalistic professionalism and fact check.

  5. To be clear: the Napster mistake was a slip up that we fixed early on on Friday (about an hour after the post went up, and we apologized for it). Not sure why you reposted the error days later…
    The other mistakes are mainly minor points used to be able to fit the points into the graph (i.e., we noted when Napster was sued, not when it went bankrupt).

  6. Also check the physical/digital %ages as they appear reversed on a couple of line. To the point made above, this is clearly blogging and not journalism.

  7. These are not minor factual errors. I can only assume the events on the time line were given to show a correlation to declines in revenue. If that was the case, it’s important to know when actual events actually happened.
    For example, price fixing settlements came a few years *after* labels had stopped their Minimum Advertised Pricing policies. Price fixing appears to be pointed out to show it had a role in declining revenues. Again, if that’s the case it would help to understand what really happened and when it happened.
    Also, the difference between a merger (Sony BMG) and an acquisition (the creation of Sony Entertainment) is hardly a small one. The Techdirt chart did point out the important part — the five majors were reduced to four as a result of the Sony BMG merger.
    On a side note, I’m surprised Sony BMG’s rootkit problem didn’t make the list. The launch of iTunes and Tower Records’ bankruptcy would also make good additions. On the other hand, the “work for hire” issue likely didn’t have an impact on sales and should not be on the list.

  8. The correlation of data to events can provide interesting insight. It can also lead to bad conclusions depending on whether or not the right events are chosen. All of the above are music related. It would be great if it was really that simple.

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