Go read this. Despite the RIAA’s moaning about violent criminals marauding the high seas, it looks like BMI is posting record profits. Very interesting indeed.
Just to be clear, BMI is one of the main performance royalty collectors on behalf of artists (along with ASCAP and SESAC). So they aren’t technically in the business of selling albums, but rather collecting royalties on behalf of songwriters whose songs are performed on the radio, on TV, in movies, etc.
So technically, this could be seen as irrelevant to the recording industry’s woes. More and more songs are being performed, and more royalties are being collected on behalf of artists. But record sales have nothing to do with it.
Perhaps the most salient point of the article is that the argument commonly put forth by the RIAA that “piracy hurts artists” isn’t the most accurate assessment of the situation, especially given that most artists earn very, very little from album sales.
Regardless, this article is further evidence that the situation is not so cut and dry either way. Clearly, there is a relationship between “piracy” and record sales, but what exactly the relationship is can be hard to pinpoint.