Tag Archives: RIAA

Recorded music revenue settling back into pre-90s levels

It certainly seems like the recorded music industry has been in decline. And compared to the peak in 1999 it has been. But if you take a longer view of history you can see that the 1990s were a weird blip, fueled by shiny new compact disc sales.

This short-term memory is understandable because Soundscan only began gathering real sales data in 1991. The RIAA, on the other hand, has collected shipment data since the early 1970s.

Throughout most of the 1980s, annual recorded music revenue hovered around $5 billion, and most of the seventies had revenue less than $4 billion, as you can see in the interactive chart below. Adjusted for inflation, that’s right around where we’ve been for the past ten years or so. The 90s were an anomaly.

Today the RIAA announced that the 2016 U.S. recorded music shipments were valued at $7.65 billion, which is up 11.4% over 2015. So good news. But if the industry thinks it’s ever going to reach 90s/CD-era levels again, they’re dreaming.

Continue reading Recorded music revenue settling back into pre-90s levels

“Uptown Funk” is certified Diamond with 11 million units

You might have seen the news that “Uptown Funk” has been certified Diamond by the RIAA, which means that it achieved 10 million sales. Billboard says that “Uptown Funk” has sold over 12,422,016 in downloads and 938,694,569 audio streams in the U.S.” and that the video “has streamed over 1.9 billion times.”

The RIAA’s certification requirements state that units are defined as follows:
• Each permanent digital download counts as 1 Unit for certification purposes.
• 150 on-demand audio and/or video streams will count as 1 Unit for certification purposes. [Note: this contradicts Billboard saying “100 streams counting as one certifiable unit.”]

But if those numbers are accurate, that would add up to 31,346,646.46 certifiable units. And the RIAA only has 11 million units certified for “Uptown Funk.” So who knows? Math is hard.

This is only the thirteenth Diamond single since the RIAA established the certification in 1999. The first single to be certified Diamond was Elton John’s Princess Diana tribute “Candle In The Wind 1997” and it took almost 16 years for the next one: Bieber and Luda’s “Baby.” If you look at the rest of the list there’s certainly plenty of garbage, but there are also some jams.

1. Elton John – “Candle In The Wind 1997 / Something.You Look Tonight” (October 9, 1997)
2. Justin Bieber – “Baby (Feat. Ludacris)” (May 9, 2013)
3. Eminem – “Love The Way You Lie (Feat. Rihanna)” (May 9, 2013)
4. Eminem – “Not Afraid” (June 10, 2014)
5. Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance” (May 29, 2015)
6. Imagine Dragons – “Radioactive” (July 6, 2015)
7. Katy Perry – “Dark Horse” (October 29, 2015)
8. Katy Perry – “Firework” (October 29, 2015)
9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop (Feat. Wanz)” (November 19, 2015)
10. Lady Gaga – “Poker Face” (November 30, 2015)
11. Florida Georgia Line – “Cruise” (April 1, 2016)
12. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” (September 28, 2016)
13. Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk Feat. Bruno Mars” (October 18, 2016)

Continue reading “Uptown Funk” is certified Diamond with 11 million units

You think CDs are overpriced?

How would you like to be charged $1.92 million for 24 songs? That’s a lot of money. Uggh.

More.

Via Techdirt.

Continue reading You think CDs are overpriced?

Hilary Rosen, 10 Years after Napster

Hilary Rosen, in rosier timesRemember Hilary Rosen? She was the CEO of the RIAA back when Napster help peer-to-peer filesharing go mainstream. Rosen was the public face of the most hated organization on the planet, at least as far as nerdy internet people were concerned. She was our punching bag until she retired in 2003, but by then the damage was done.

On the tenth anniversary of Napster going live, Rosen shares her thoughts and memories with Billboard, and she’s very insightful:

There’s been this time period between 2002 and 2006, maybe 2007, where there just weren’t enough deals done. There were so many innovative ways to deliver music and not a lot of licensing support from the music business. That’s just not the record companies, the music publishers have been really brought kicking to the table. It’s one of the reasons the record companies gave up trying to license the whole work and said ‘we’ll just license the sound recording rights,’ because the music publishers were so difficult. The one lesson the industry did not learn after Napster was speed. When you’re talking about technology, you have to move quickly on opportunities. The constant refrain is ‘there’s no money in these opportunities. There’s no advances. We don’t see the pay off.’ But the thing you have to keep pushing back on is ‘what are you comparing it to?’ If you’re comparing it to physical sales or comparing it to an iTunes download, then you’re right, it’s going to be hard. But what you really need to compare to is how else fans are getting the music, which is free. The lessons of Napster, of rapid fire adoption, have been too quickly forgotten. The industry has moved a little too slow and have not benefited as much as they might have by the benefits of technology.

She’s right of course. But the industry is still just now starting to pay attention. Well worth the read.

Via Techdirt.

Did Obama Violate Copyright?

God Save the Queen, we mean it, manBy now, you’ve all heard that President Obama gave the Queen of England an iPod. Turns out there were 40 songs pre-loaded on it. Showtunes to accompany a coffee table book he also gave her. When I heard about this, the first thing I wondered was whether or not the RIAA was going to go after his ass. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been wondering the same thing: iPods, First Sale, President Obama, and the Queen of England.

In the digital era, however, first sale has been under siege, with copyright owners (and even the Copyright Office) arguing that it has no place in a world where “ownership” has been replaced by “licenses” and hand-to-hand exchanges have been replaced by computer-mediated exchanges that necessarily make copies. But it’s precisely because first sale is central to everyday activities like giving an iPod to a friend, selling a used CD on eBay, or borrowing a DVD from a library, that EFF and others have been fighting for it in case after case.

So, how does President Obama fare in this? It’s nearly impossible to figure out. If he’d simply purchased a “greatest hits” CD of show tunes and given it to the Queen, the first sale doctrine would have taken care of it. But because digital technology is involved here, suddenly it’s a legal quagmire.

The fact that this is such a convoluted issue kinda proves we need to reform copyright law, doesn’t it?

RIAA Suing Fans: Five Years Later

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an in-depth report on the first five years of the RIAA’s lawsuits against file sharers:

On September 8, 2003, the recording industry sued 261 American music fans for sharing songs on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks, kicking off an unprecedented legal campaign against the people that should be the recording industry’s best customers: music fans. Five years later, the recording industry has filed, settled, or threatened legal actions against at least 30,000 individuals. These individuals have included children, grandparents, unemployed single mothers, college professors—a random selection from the millions of Americans who have used P2P networks. And there’s no end in sight; new lawsuits are filed monthly, and now they are supplemented by a flood of “pre-litigation” settlement letters designed to extract settlements without any need to enter a courtroom.

But suing music fans has proven to be an ineffective response to unauthorized P2P file-sharing. Downloading from P2P networks is more popular than ever, despite the widespread public awareness of lawsuits.4 And the lawsuit campaign has not resulted in any royalties to artists. One thing has become clear: suing music fans is no answer to the P2P dilemma.

We first alerted you to this ongoing legal campaign back in June of 2003, when the RIAA first began “gathering evidence and preparing lawsuits.” Five years later, every single thing the RIAA has done in this process has backfired. The EFF advocates “a voluntary collective licensing regime as a mechanism that would fairly compensate artists and rightsholders for P2P file sharing.” Fans could opt in for something like $5/month and the RIAA would agree not to sue them.

What do you think? How much would you be willing to pay?

Via Techdirt.

RIAA Loses Another Filesharing Trial

Well, the RIAA didn’t technically lose the trial, but a federal judge declared a mistrial and threw out the verdict against a Kazaa user who had been ordered to pay the recording industry $222,000 for allegedly sharing music online:

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minn., declared a mistrial in the case against Thomas, who was charged in October with violating copyright law by making 24 songs available for others to download on the Kazaa network.

Davis set aside the verdict on the grounds that he misguided the jury, telling jurors that simply the act of making a copyrighted song available for sharing amounts to infringement.

Looks like that “Making Available” case that the RIAA lost back in April is setting a precedent. Just because someone made files available doesn’t prove that anybody actually downloaded them.

Via Idolator.

RIAA Loses "Making Available" Case

So remember that court case we talked about a couple months ago, the one where the RIAA was saying that just making the files available equals infringement even if nobody downloaded them from you? Well, the RIAA lost. Big Victory in Atlantic v. Howell: Court Rejects RIAA "Making Available" Theory:

In its order (pdf), the court delivers the most decisive rejection yet of the recording industry’s “making available” theory of infringement (i.e., if someone could have downloaded it from you, you’ve violated copyright, even if no one ever did)…. [T]he court concludes that “[t]he general rule, supported by the great weight of authority, is that infringement of the distribution right requires an actual dissemination of either copies or phonorecords.” The court goes on to conclude that downloads by the recording industry’s own investigator, MediaSentry, are not enough to establish distribution, at least based on the facts of this case (Mr. Howell maintains that, unbeknowst to him, the Kazaa software was sharing his entire hard drive). Finally, the court also suggests that P2P file-sharing may not implicate the distribution right at all, reasoning that what is really going on is a series of reproductions.

This, of course, is going to be much harder, if not impossible, for the RIAA to prove.

Winning the War Against the RIAA

Business Week looks into a single mom’s private war with the recording industry: Does She Look Like a Music Pirate?

After being sued by the music industry for stealing songs and winning the case’s dismissal, Andersen is now taking the record industry to court. Her case is aimed at exposing investigative practices that are controversial and may be illegal, according to the lawsuit. One company hired by the record industry, she claims, snoops through people’s computers, uncovering private files and photos, even though it has no legal right to do so. A different industry-backed company uses tactics similar to those of debt collectors, pressuring people to pay thousands of dollars in settlements even before any wrongdoing is proven. In Andersen’s case, the industry’s Settlement Support Center said that unless she paid $4,000 to $5,000 immediately, it would “ruin her financially,” the suit alleges.

This is the same case we covered last year when Ms. Anderson charged the RIAA with fraud and racketeering. She’s planning on dropping the RICO charges now, because the judge thought they’d be hard to prove. But her case “is very much alive.” Sock it to the Man!

Via techdirt.

UMG Says Throwing Away Promo CDs is Illegal

They say everybody’s a critic nowadays, so I’m guessing we all get our fair share of crummy promo CDs from desperate labels. Well, you better not dump them just yet, because it might be illegal to get rid of them.

In a brief filed in federal court yesterday [pdf], Universal Music Group (UMG) states that, when it comes to the millions of promotional CDs (“promo CDs”) that it has sent out to music reviewers, radio stations, DJs, and other music industry insiders, throwing them away is “an unauthorized distribution” that violates copyright law. Yes, you read that right — if you’ve ever received a promo CD from UMG, and you don’t still have it, UMG thinks you’re a pirate.

UMG apparently believes it has “eternal ownership” over promo CDs. Our friends at EFF are fighting this, correctly pointing out that this crazy idea totally goes in the face of the “first sale doctrine” under the U.S. Copyright Act, which states that “once a copyright owner has parted with ownership of a CD, book, or DVD, whether by sale, gift, or other disposition, they may not control further dispositions of that particular copy (including throwing it away).”

So now what the fuck are we supposed to do with that Will.i.am album? Return to sender? Hey, how about this: don’t send us shit unless it’s good? How about that?