The RIAA appears to be dying, tax records show

riaa music industry tax dyingThings aren’t looking so good for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), one of the primary groups behind anti-piracy efforts like the Stop Online Piracy Act and the ‘six strikes’ deal with Internet service providers.

As TorrentFreak giddily points out, the RIAA’s most recent tax filing shows that the group’s revenue for the period that ended on March 31, 2011, has fallen 44 percent over the two years prior. Chances are, the financial outlook is even more grim for 2012.

RIAA revenue for the period topped out at $29.1 million, a significant fall from the $51.35 million the group brought in two years ago. The number of employees also plummeted during the same period, diving from 117 to just 72.

The reason for the fall in revenue is primarily a result of a drop in dues paid by the major record labels that serve as RIAA members. In its filing from two years earlier, the RIAA reported member dues of $49.8 million, reports Digital Music News. The group’s most recent filing shows that number now clocks in at just $27.9 million.

Interestingly, the first half of 2011 was one of the best for the music industry as a whole, according to Nielsen SounScan. The first six months of the year delivered a modest 1 percent rise in total album sales — the first gain the industry saw in six years.

Despite the drop in revenue and member dues, RIAA executives are stilling laughing all the way to the bank. Former RIAA Chairman and CEO Mitch Bainwol received $1.75 million, the most of any RIAA employee. Current Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman (who was the group’s president at the time) received the second highest salary, $1.36 million. The nine other highest-paid RIAA employees all received salaries between $309,000 and $715,000.

The amount of money the RIAA spends on lobbying the U.S. government has remained about the same over the past few years, at a steady $2.3 million annually.

Fortunately for Web users, the amount of money the RIAA has collected in legal fees has dropped significantly, falling from $16.5 million to $2.34 million thanks to the group’s decision to stop going after individual file-sharers in court, reports TorrentFreak.

View the full 2010-2011 RIAA IRS filing here.