From a comment in this Slashdot story on the RIAA settlement announced this week (followup): RIAA Forgets to Make Royalty Payments
Compared to cd sales decline (Score:5, Insightful)
by nuffle (540687) <mike &sycamore,us> on Thursday May 06, @09:24AM (#9072563)
According to CNN, sales dropped about 7.5% [slashdot.org] from 2002 levels of 32.2 billion to 2003 sales of 32.0 billion. RIAA blames “rampant piracy” for this.
Therefore, according to RIAA, piracy accounted for 200 million in sales loss. Therefore (unless artists get 25% or more of retail) with this announcement of withholding 50m in royalties from artists, the RIAA itself is personally responsible for more monetary loss to artists than piracy.
Yes, the RIAA sales loss is an annual number, and it’s being compared with a number of uncertain time, but it’s an interesting way to look at it.
Update: The Rolling Stone article on the subject puts a different spin on the whole thing, though - Bowie, DMB Rescue Royalties
The deal caps a two-year investigation sparked by music industry attorney Bob Donnelly, who brought the issue of labels failing to keep contact with performers and making proper royalty payments. More than $25 million has been paid out so far, with another $25 still expected to be distributed.
[...] The investigation also found that outstanding royalties were also due to artists who didn’t necessarily make vast sums of money, and the likes of Texas singer-songwriter Guy Clark or avant garde jazz pianist Cecil Taylor might benefit from the windfall of a few thousand dollars. “[Some] artists struggle,” Spitzer said at a press conference announcing the deal in New York City today. “They depend on the stream of royalties.”
Spitzer praised the record companies for their willingness to reach the agreement and suggested that the unpaid monies were an oversight. “It’s not like there was a grand conspiracy to cheat them out of these big sums of money,” he said. “It was just a failure to do what should have been done. That’s why we have this settlement.”