It occurred to me recently that the RIAA presents itself as a unified front. There are the consumers, the lowly peons who happen to finance the whole thing. That's you and me. There are the indies, independent labels who often struggle but continue to plug away. And then there is the RIAA. Or so they would have us believe.
Obviously the RIAA is made up of many member companies, and it would be nice to have a little more information on those member companies. But whenever we see figures on units sold or gross revenue, those numbers are presented as aggregates for the entire RIAA. This makes it difficult to compare the number to anything other than the same numbers from previous years.
But what if they were broken out separately? What if we could see how many units sold and dollars made were from Sony or Universal or Epic or whomever? Would we see new patterns?
Would we see that certain labels have raised prices more than others and that their unit sales have correspondingly gone down more than others? Would we see that some labels have continued to produce roughly the same number of titles as they have for the last few years and seen their revenues remain steady while others cut back on titles and saw their revenues go down?
I don't know. And I'm not likely to know, since those number don't seem to be published.
I hope I'm wrong. For example, it's possible that those numbers are published in each RIAA member company's annual report to its stockholders, and that an enterprising investigative reporter or blogger with a lot of free time could accumulate all of those figure and publish a spreadsheet suitable for graphing. But somehow I suspect that it isn't that easy, and frankly I suspect that the difficulty is deliberate.
People in power always gain from secrecy, and we the people always lose. That's true in politics, it's true in business, it's just true in life. There are always "good reasons" why the information needs to be kept private, but in the end those reasons don't benefit you and me, the people.
Should the RIAA publish statistics on a per-label basis? Do they and I've just missed it? Anybody?