The Head of the RIAA Makes $1.6 Million a Year…

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(RIAA non-profit IRS filing, fiscal period ending March 31, 2013)

You’ve probably never heard of the guy, and that’s exactly the point.  Because the head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Cary Sherman, quietly collected nearly $1.6 million in compensation last year despite a massive plunge in label contributions and huge layoffs at the organization.

The compensation details were published in the latest tax filing for the non-profit, which also revealed that Sherman and his spouse fly first class for anything business-related.  Sherman’s contract also includes an exclusive, pricey gym membership.  The RIAA spent $756,986 on travel alone during the latest fiscal period.

Meanwhile, over the past four years, contributions from major labels has dropped by more than 50%, thanks to continued slides in recorded music revenue.


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Others commanding impressive salaries include Mitch Glazier ($715,958), Neil Turkewitz ($657,015), and Steve Marks ($649,018), with plenty of others enjoying deep six-figure salaries.  Even the press guy, Jonathan Lamy, made $325,411, which is more than 3 times the salary paid to A2IM president Rich Bengloff (also according to IRS filings).

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 May 23, 2013: RIAA Chops Half Its Staff.  CEO Gets a Raise to $1.5 Million.

The RIAA has also laid off more than 50% of its staff in recent years (the organization did not disclose its headcount for the latest year).

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16 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    So he’s a Batman villain?

    Used for without permission, btw.

    • Anonymous

      Forget the Batman look at the house on fire. They have just thrown in Amazon to that fire.

  2. Anonymous

    …and they all excited with Spotify and YouTube.

    It is still modest for almost dead industry.

    Chief of UMG takes over $10M a year for giving away most of his business!

    • Anonymous

      And what do you think Tim Westergren, Kim Dotcom, Daniel Ek, The Pirate Bay and Eric Schmidt make…

      • TuneHunter

        CEO of Toyota, the biggest car maker on Earth, takes just one million.

        At UMG and RIAA incompetence is at such a level that few randomly chosen folks at Cambridge, MA bar would do superb job to recover the industry! $1.6M for team of ten would do!

      • ThinkAboutIt...

        Anonymous Monday, June 16, 2014

        And what do you think Tim Westergren, Kim Dotcom, Daniel Ek, The Pirate Bay and Eric Schmidt make…”

        That comparison is useless.

        All of those people run companies that have sources of revenue other than membership dues. While they may not all be profitable, they have a product or service to provide to the general public that is a revenue source for the company.

        The RIAA does nothing but serve its members. It is a non-profit trade organization. It has no product or service to sell – other than lobbying, only on behalf of its members.

  3. TuneHunter

    They are so busy in consuming their nice wages that have no time to answer relevant emails or return any phone calls! Higher level of arrogance and ignorance can be found only at UMG.

  4. Versus

    That’s unconscionable while laying off so many people and failing at their mission, which is to protect the livelihoods of those in the recording industry, not only a few people in gilded lifeboats while the Titanic sinks.

  5. GGG

    If the majors don’t even see value in the RIAA anymore, what do they even do?

  6. danwriter

    Actually, between this and the Dre revelations, this is muckraking — in the positive sense of that word that it was originally had 100 years ago — at its finest. This stuff needs to be put on the table. Everyone can draw their own conclusions. Well done, Paul. (You still need to go weekly.)

  7. Ben Stauffer

    $1.6 MM for the head of a large organization isn’t at all excessive, Paul.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Except if you can’t afford it. I’ll find about a dozen extremely-qualified people that would happily take that job – and perform wonderfully in it for 1/10th the cost of Cary Sherman. Or, less.

      • TuneHunter

        Totally agreed! Let’s visit a bar in your home town.

  8. Willis

    But he’s worth every penny of the $1.6M, right? He’s getting things done and really helping artists?

  9. Anonymous

    The real story here is the externalization of expense by having SoundExchange pay their outside legal cost.
    50% of those amounts are absorbed by the featured and non-featured artists.
    SWEET DEAL if you’re a lawyer.

  10. PJ london

    Hey, it is a “non-profit” organisation.
    Any money left over after paying for travel and parties has to be split (only among the board, let us not be ridiculous and spread it too widely) or else we become a “for Profit” and that is just too much trouble.