RIAA Pulling Out All The Stops To Keep Its Wholesale Digital Download Prices Quiet

from the can't-let-that-get-out-now,-can-we? dept

For all the talk about how iTunes is something of a loss leader for Apple, it’s still never been clearly stated just how much the recording industry charges Apple for each downloaded song. Everyone seems to agree that it’s approximately two-thirds of the retail $0.99 price, and at various times we’ve heard numbers as low as $0.65 and as high as $0.77. The general consensus is that it’s usually in the $0.67 to $0.70 range, with $0.70 being the standard these days. However, it appears that the RIAA really just doesn’t want anyone to know about them. In one of the recent lawsuits, UMG v. Lindor, where the defendant is challenging the damages amount, the RIAA is refusing to disclose the wholesale pricing details unless they can require Lindor’s attorneys to keep the prices confidential. Her attorneys refuse to do so, on the grounds that the information really isn’t confidential, and the only reason the RIAA is hoping to keep the prices quiet is to assist them in other lawsuits. Perhaps that would be lawsuits like the one they’re facing from a bunch of musicians who feel that the labels are cheating them out of revenues owed from digital downloads.

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Comments on “RIAA Pulling Out All The Stops To Keep Its Wholesale Digital Download Prices Quiet”

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Maynard says:

riaa "racketeering incorporated a**hole associatio

The RIAA is the lucky luciano, john gotti and tony soprano of the music industry all rolled into one. The make musicians sign up to protect their work (sounds a little like the insurance plan sold by the mob to business owners) and then they take a little “tribute.” The only problem, the RIAA and the Record Companies are the same thing… the artists are the prostitutes getting pennies for the sale of each record. Don’t get me wrong, I know that many of the artists are extremely wealthy… I’m just trying to figure out who has taken more money out the artist’s pocket… the riaa or illegal downloaders. The record industry is missing its number because the record industry forget how to sell records.

DittoBox (user link) says:

Re: riaa

Most artists don’t get that much from album sales. Their wealth comes from live shows and external merchandising contracts.

This is why the RIAA is so threatened by online distribution methods! They’re easy to use. If a band or artist records their own album, then they can sell their owns CDs for $5 instead of $20 and make infinitely more money than they did when they were in bed with Recording Industry. The RIAA is *scared*.

So to keep their racket going they have to convince their artists that they’re actually working for them. They’re going after their fans and making it look like they’re doing something to protect their artists…when in fact they’re only lining their own pockets (and that of politicians).

Bloody brilliant!

jim says:

Re: Re: riaa

You’ve got that right. Many musicians see this reality too (especially after the recent news that RIAA has petitioned to cut the rate they pay songwriters for lyrics.)

It’s no wonder a bunch of independent musicians have signed up to support the Digital Freedom campaign (digitalfreedom.org — which I’m involved with). They’re beginning to realize there’s an alternative to the big labels.

Yo ho ho... says:

Serious note... for a change

Don’t ask how, but I can give you some insight on some of their pricing… at least in the mobile download business. At this point, they generally get anywhere from $.85 – $1.05 per cell phone download of a complete song.

And they get about 50% of the ringtone download.

Wonder how the artists are gonna feel about that — especially since they don’t get a cut of the ringtone revenues!

misanthropic humanist says:

identify, boycott, erase

Sorry, same old message – but it’s more important with every passing day.

Do not buy RIAA/MPAA products.

Tell your friends and family not to buy their products.

Do not pirate or share their products.

Download free music from independent artists who want you to
enjoy their music – many of them are MUCH BETTER than the dross
from the recoed companies.

Don’t be outraged by the RIAA/MPAA, just do your own little bit to help make them irrelevant.

Overcast says:

Yeah, can’t agree more. I don’t download any music, nor do I buy any music. I’d rather not listen than buy anything that the RIAA will get a profit from. I WILL not buy an iPOD for this reason specifically.

I did buy some DVD’s – but guess what MPAA – I bought USED ones 😉

So they didn’t get a cent for that. They got money from the person who bought them originally, but not from a used sale – and I bet that drives them NUTS!!!

Soon, they’ll be wanting a cut of used sales as well.

That’s ok, if they are getting a cut, I won’t buy it.

Other business should look as this as an example of how *not* to run a business.

Can anyone think of a more hated entity than the RIAA?

Not the oil companies… Not government…

It’s bad when people hate an association more than any other entity, almost… 🙂

space ramblings (user link) says:

Is there anything the RIAA has been willing to dis

Like what they ate for breakfast or what color boxers they wear?

Their usual style is to march into court with evidence they themselves collected that consists of an IP number someone supposedly used to download a supposed copyrighted file (though they can’t actually prove either of those) and bowl over some 60 year old judge who only uses the internet to feed his fetish for asian amputee porn and believes everything the RIAA experts tell him.

JohnS. says:

60 yr old judge bowled over

HAHAHAHA… yeah, I’ve been saying that for years. The Legislators and Judges making all these decisions are 50+ years old and know NOTHING about what they are ruling on.

NEW LAW: Anything that deals with technology has to be ruled on by someone 30 years or less.

I know that’s Age-ist but seriously.. something has to be done about clueless authorities

musikLover says:

Free Live Music Site

The website Archive.org has thousands of live performances all from smaller bands that are mostly grounded in roots music, jazz, blues, funk, country, bluegrass, hip-hop or as some people throw it all into one category called jambands. You can stream or download a bunch of the shows and who knows….maybe you will find a band you like and go see them live, buy a t-shirt, and give your support and love to the band. Money from CD sales also mostly goes to the record companies.


Slacker says:

The RIAA is not for Musicians

The RIAA is for the labels. The recording industry has been ripping off consumers and musicians for years.

As much as the RIAA likes to claim they are protecting musicians, they are nothing more than actually gold digging for the labels. I say share and scam all the music you like, as most musicians make the large sum of their money from concert tours and merchandise sales.

But then again the musicians are not really to intelligent. Once they realize they can offer the music themselves via the internet, they will not have any real use for label.

By the has anyone label actually thought of the benifits they could have if they offered all their artist songs for download on the own websites?

I would pay them .75 for a song I like that can be played on any format, and more than like would spend a couple hundred bucks doing it. But I will not by a CD as usually 2/3 of songs on CD usually suck and I never listen too. Besides they can cut out the middle man and just keep all profits to themselves and say give .25 for every download to the artist. Maybe they will start to put out better music + then you can really see who people like and not what MTV tells what we like.

Nick Burns says:

Re: The RIAA is not for Musicians

This was the most incoherent, rambling comment I have ever read on Techdirt. You’re worse than Carlos. Please, if you choose to post a comment, take some time to read through it before you submit and make sure that another individual may be able to understand your point of view and expound upon it. At least try and make sure you don’t leave out half of a sentence.

The RIAA is quite simply an association of major (and some not-so-major) record labels operating in the USA. Record labels represent their respective artists, so the RIAA does this as well – indirectly. Regardless of what they charge for digital music sales, there is absolutely no question that artists are being ripped off. The industry has been ripping off artists on CD, Tape, LP and 8-track sales for decades. Artists receive only pennies for a $19 CD, so what makes you think they might get more for a single song download?

If you would like to learn a little more about the price wars between artists and labels, look into Tom Petty’s story. In 1981 MCA wanted to raise his record prices by $1.00 to $9.98 and he threatened to title his newest album $8.98. He then withheld the album from the label. A vicious lawsuit ensued, and Tom Petty won. The album was named Hard Promises, and Petty was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine – with an article about his fight with MCA.

chris (profile) says:

Re: The RIAA is not for Musicians

Maybe they will start to put out better music + then you can really see who people like and not what MTV tells what we like.

yeah, and maybe monkeys will fly out of my butt.

the industry “creates” artists and their music and pushes it to us via the radio and MTV. why do you think that download services (legal or otherwise) and satellite radio is such a thorn in the side of the RIAA?

being able to create your own playlists of music to listen to on your terms is not what the recording industry is about. the industry is about selling new shit.

if you listen you your own stuff on your terms you *might* not buy new shit. sure there is a chance that you still might… but it’s best to not take that chance.

so for those of you who are not paying attention, please follow these instructions:

step 1: listen to the radio to find new shit to buy
step 2: pay full retail price for new shit on CD’s
step 3: pay to download the same music to your player
step 4: pay for music ring tones
step 5: endorse newer high def formats
step 6: buy new higher def player and phone
step 7: replace your current collection in new format
step 8: repeat steps 1-7 for new formats

any questions?

malhombre says:

Re: Free Live Music Site

musik has it sooo right – visit (and if you can, help to support) the archive! Let me go one step further and recommend some groups that you might find to your liking (for starters):

Phil Lesh and Friends – try the 9/26 and/or 9/27/3003 Warfield Theater shows for a good start

Umphries McGee – Fox Theatre 2/7/2004

Addison Groove Project – Mercury Lounge 1/1/2003

Aquarium Rescue Unit – Stella Blue 10/19/2004

Thats hours of live, smokin’ music that have elements of fusion, rock, blues, etc…and it’s just for starters. You don’t need to pay the king, this stuff is, unbelievably, FREE for the d’ling. And the above is just a tiny fraction of whats available – you can explore new groups for days on end and never run out of new stuff.

Need to adjust the tunes to your sonic liking? May I recommend:

Format conversion (i.e. FLAC to MP3): Foobar2000

Audio editing: Audacity

.shn file converter: MKW Audio Compression Tool

Each of these do multiple functions, each are free. With a little tinkering you can produce excellent final copies in any format you like. My friends are starting to come to me for music, rather than buy the **AA’s bs product…it makes it much easier to convince people to give up the commercial habit when you can provide an alternative, and regardless of your taste the archive will surely hold something of interest.

Also, if you are into classical piano, try
Hundreds of private pianists contributing recordings from just about every classical composer out there (but alas, most are 128k mp3, but still very good).

Sorry for cheerleading, but IMHO this makes the cartel obsolete, and that is well worth it to me.

Phillip says:

Re: Questioning Attitude

No you were right, only apple goes get the money from iPods as they should. However, that hasn’t stopped the RIAA from continuously trying to get a cut ever though they tried to prevent the iPod.
Also, they created the ability for apple to gain so much market share by forcing the DRM onto apple which locks their customers to apple and iPods.

chris (profile) says:

let me get this straight...

the RIAA squeezes ISPs and witnesses alike for disclosure of information, but wants it’s own potentially damaging information to remain confidential?

that’s hypocritical. i am shocked… *shocked* that the music industry would do such a thing.

you might also be as shocked as i am to discover that water is wet, grass is green, and that the sky is blue. sorry to be the bearer of so many disturbing revelations, but i just had to share the news.

misanthropic humanist says:

don't pirate diseased music

“I say share and scam all the music you like, as most musicians make the large sum of their money from concert tours and merchandise sales.”

I understand your sentiment, honestly. I felt that way for a long time too – but it’s a position driven by anger and it works against all the important objectives, namely;

1) Freedom for real artists
2) Freedom for the audience
3) The destruction of the RIAA/MPAA mafias
4) Refutation of the myth that artists need the mafias for protection.

Some media is owned by the RIAA/MPAA, and let’s be honest, whatever scullduggery and underhand subterfuge they used to appropriate that property it was done legally and they have a proper claim to it. There’s no point fighting them on their own ground, they will win so long as we use the law. Fair use is dead.

But their poison wares are outnumbered 10:1 by media that they do not own. On the whole the quality of the majority media, the stuff owned by you and me, the real user submitted YouTube video, the songs on MySpace etc, the quality of that is lower. 90% of it is disposable culture, but 10% is of a quality to rival what the lables own. In other words there is as much quality public domain media about as there is quality media owned by the media mafias. And the desirability of that media is growing, people want authenticity and there is a backlash against plastic mass produced crap.

The problem is filtering it, and adding value by aggregation. The function of the record/film company in the 21st century is not to distribute or market, it is to add value by selectivity.

Our most important goal is not to take ownership of the old media by piracy, let it die. Our most important objective is to make the RIAA/MPAA and the old guard irrelevant, to exclude them from the new culture so that fresh works do not become infected.

We should treat copyrighted material owned by the mafias as a cancer. It infects every database and FTP site it touches. That’s why I feel that the fingerprinting software offered by Philips is very useful and empowering to the independent scene, it gives us a way of removing the infected material – hopefully at the expense of the mafias themselves.

Objective (4) is the hardest to achieve. Most authentic artists do not work for money anyway, and Creative Commons offers everything they need to legally protect work while excluding the mafias from their aim of misappropriating it. There may be some leakage if greedy artists “sell out”, but I think the current generation is sufficiently well educated to know the Devil now.

Objective (3) will happen slowly with time. The mafias have enough rope to hang themselves with now and will hopefully be suffocate
in their own legal detritus. Part of this process is the growing up of a generation who don’t remember old 20th Century music and the dying out of a generation who do.

Is that sad? Yes, in a way. It’s sad that so much wonderful music will be lost. But future generations will create more, better culture. In that way I have a bitter-sweet optimism.

As I like to say, the mafias may own the past, but we own the future.

The infamous Joe says:

Re: don't pirate diseased music

I understand your point, but I, as only an opinion, feel that you have a flaw or two in your thinking, which creates an ‘error carried forward’.

Firstly, I think that you give artists under a label a bad wrap– I happen to like many labeled artists. What I don’t like is the price at which *the label* sets for their music. So, I may or may not obtain said music in a way that violates copyright laws. The way I see it is that if I take a picture of a painters artwork and show all my friends– the ones that are really interested are going to want to see it for themselves. If I (or someone else) makes a recording of music, the people who are interested are going to want to see it live. Your objectives 1, 3 and 4 are all the same thing, in my mind. Artist won’t attain freedom until they realize they don’t need a label, and when they do realize it, the RIAA will cease to exist. So, it’s really only 2 objectives:

(1) Freedom for the artist
(2) Freedom for the audience

Since freedom for the artists are already in their hands, should they choose to embrace it, I’ll skip over it. Number 2 is all about me, and I’d like the freedom to listen to the replica before I view the original. I wouldn’t buy a car before test driving, I wouldn’t marry a broad before bumping uglies– I wouldn’t go to a concert (aka pay for music) before I hear [all] of it.

Saying that a boycott is the solution is also flawed.. the artists need to realize that I want to listen to their music, and if it’s good enough, I’ll gladly pay for the experience of seeing it live. I will not pay top dollar for a replica. They don’t need someone to show off their replicas any longer(aka Labels)– the internet will gladly, and easily do that bit for them and usually for free– their job, now, is to make music I want to see live.

That’s just my spin on it, I can’t say if it’s right or wrong.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Re: don't pirate diseased music

“feel that you have a flaw or two in your thinking, which creates an ‘error carried forward’.”

I like it. You definitely pointed out my reasoning is a suboptimal solution getting it down to the two important points 🙂

“Firstly, I think that you give artists under a label a bad wrap– I happen to like many labeled artists.”

Yeah. I’m harsh. I’m like one of those dry drunks. I’ve signed a few deals in my time so I know it from both sides, honestly. It’s like telling kids not to do drugs… you can’t do that, they have to try themselves get burned and learn. So my attitude is : If you sign up with these people, who we all know are rotten, then don’t be surprised when the new wave of popular culture bypasses you. I’m certainly not saying ALL lable music is crap either, that would be churlish.

I agree with all those points you make about freedoms. Except that I am at an age where I tend to collect recorded music to listen to rather than going out to see many live bands, I agree that it is a great way to support real musicians who get off their asses to perform. Studio bands also put in a lot of hard work, it would be nice to have a way to support them too if they want financial renumeration. The difference is that studio bands who work in their spare time for the love of art can afford to subsidide their activity for the love of it alone, but touring bands need to make a buck on the road – because touring is expensive.

“Saying that a boycott is the solution is also flawed.. the artists need to realize that I want to listen to their music, and if it’s good enough, I’ll gladly pay for the experience of seeing it live.”

I am not suggesting boycott of live performance, that is well known that artists receive a good dollar for that work. But I disagree that boycott of recorded media is flawed when they choose to exclusively licence to a lable. It is a way of showing that you disapprove of their association with criminals. Sure it’s all stick and no carrot, it’s reactionary, but I see no clearer way of saying “I will not support you if you will not support me (and my freedoms)”

I think a band that is really talented doesn’t need a label to advance them, they will make good sales from their website or iTunes regardless. Only iTunes have entered into exclusive deals that prevent real independent bands from using them, much to their loss.

Also, a band that makes it independently gets 10 times the respect from me, and probably 10 times the money by handling their own merchandising. That is the message I would like to get across to new musicians who are starting their careers.

I just think it is the future, and I really really want to see the RIAA and the major labels die horribly since I think they do so much damage to real music.

with respex

ScytheNoire (profile) says:

it's definitely not all about the artists

It’s not about the artists, because most artists I’ve heard admit that they don’t make money on CD sales, it all goes to the record companies. It’s why so many are now creating their own private labels and distributing their own music under their own control.

In fact, most artists like music sharing and things such as their music appearing on MySpace or YouTube, because it can create new fans and get new people to come out to their shows. Many admit that it is from the concerts that they make their money, from touring, not from music sales.

I heard a quote once that Bruce Springsteen, someone who has done pretty well over the years, made more money from FOUR concerts than he did from his career of music sales. So you can get a pretty good idea how little music sales mean to the artists considering it mostly goes to the record labels.

Record labels used to be about distribution and marketing, but the internet these days is the biggest and best marketing and distribution method around, and so the music labels have become obsolete, thus, they are fighting like made to keep themselves alive, but most know that music labels are dead, it’s all about independent music today and in the future. No longer will records dictate what we listen to, instead, we will just find music similar to what we enjoy in a genre, and go from there.

RIAA is old school, a corporate mafia, and no longer needed. They fell asleep as technology passed them by, and it’s time to move forward with new artists taking their own music into their own hands and reaping the rewards of their own hard work.

Tin Ear says:

I may be dating myself here...

But I haven’t downloaded anything ‘new’, ever. I grew up in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and that is the era of music that I search for online. Classic rock, mostly. There’s tons of ‘Pre-RIAA’ stuff out there from bands that are no longer around. Alas, most of the stuff I have is from bands that no longer exist as they did when I grew up. Still, back then I don’t think the record companies were doing their artists justice in their pricing.

Hmm… Maybe I’ll send a small honorarium to the Hendrix estate…

misanthropic humansit says:

Re: I may be dating myself here...

“But I haven’t downloaded anything ‘new’, ever. I grew up in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and that is the era of music that I search for online.”

That describes me exactly until about 2 years ago. We are probably a similar age.

What ***OUTRAGES*** me is that I consider those tracks part of MY CULTURAL HERITAGE. I think my own past has been hijacked and misappropriated by the media mafia and I feel very angry about it.

My response is basically to say fuck you to the music industry by supporting the newest independent artists that have the gumption to stand up and promote themselves on the internet.

Try it – really you will be pleased. It takes a LOT of hard work to track down new independent material that is good quality, but when you find it the rewards are huge, in a personal and emotional way.
I have sent $50 to a band before and told them to go out buy a good new microphone becuase I thought the quality of their vocals sucked but the rest of the sound was amazing. That is real artist-audience involvement. They sent me a CD of their next unreleased album.

I get all the classics I need from the radio really, but as time goes by and I explore more new music I find I am drawn less and less back to the past.

happy listenin

Ray Beckerman (user link) says:

Why fight to keep secret something so well known?

There’s the cost factor in the RIAA suits themselves.

A litigation lawyer, unlike everyone else in the world, doesn’t just need to know the information, he needs to have it in a format admissible at trial. I already know that the price is around 70 cents. I don’t really need to know if the average price is 69 cents or 71 cents or 67 cents, I just need an approximation. But what I really need is to have it in a form I can use at trial.

The RIAA just wants to make sure that every other litigant has to have his or her attorney spend 20-30 hours getting this information in admissible form, as Ms. Lindor has had to do. If they give me the information, but it’s confidential, then every other litigant will have to jump through the same hoops all over again.

And they follow the same strategy with everything else. They want everything to be “confidential” so that the attorneys in other cases will have to reinvent the wheel in each $4500 case. It gives the RIAA an overwhelming advantage, because they have centralized information on what is going on in each of the 25,000 or so cases they’ve brought, while the defendants have almost no knowledge of what’s gone on in other cases.

That’s my read on the game that they’re playing.

Alf says:

Another site for indi artists...

Hi everyone… I love the discussion so far, it mirrors how I feel about the RIAA all too well.

Check out http://www.funender.com

It’s completely taylored to artists not signed with the RIAA or other corporate intrests. It does allow artists to sell songs at their discretion (and at their price) but they actually get every last cent of the profits.

Support it!

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