We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is the RIAA?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
Our promise to you
Musical Expert is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Musical Expert, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The RIAA is an acronym for the Recording Industry Association of America, which is composed of large companies that oversee the recording and distribution of music in the US. Approximately 90% of recording companies or distributors are members of the RIAA. The association’s goals are now primarily steered toward copyright protection. This is a big change from the establishment of the RIAA in the 1950s, where the biggest concern was standardizing the quality of vinyl records, and later cassette tapes.

Much of the shift in the RIAA, now under the guidance of Mitch Bainwol, is due to the frequent illegal downloads or copying of music that is copyright protected. When Napster first became available in the late 1990s, most people suddenly had the opportunity to download music without paying for it. Also, burning discs and copying albums became more frequent with advances in computer technology.

The RIAA actively sought to have laws passed to ban file-sharing programs like Napster, as well as to tighten the restriction on copyright laws. In the early first decade of 2000, several laws were enacted to increase the penalties for those who infringed on copyright law by illegally copying music, either from a computer source or purchased CDs. The RIAA has also targeted in particular college age youth in a series of campaigns to discourage illegal downloads.

Not all find the current mission of the RIAA to be logical or reasonable. Critics point to increased CD sales during the Napster era, and conclude that restrictions on sharing or free downloads are actually contrary to the RIAA goals of helping musical artists and recording studios. Critics also claim the RIAA is little more than an organized crime business which rips off artists, who get relatively little compensation for the sale of CDs, while it fixes prices of CDs for high profits for recording labels.

RIAA opponents point to lawsuits for copyright infringement against unsuspecting people. One lawsuit was enacted against an 83 year old woman, another against a 12 year old girl, and a third against a woman in her 60s who had never used a computer. These and other lawsuits were criticized by many and did damage to the credibility of the RIAA.

In 2003, the RIAA issued an amnesty, deciding not to pursue those who had practiced illegal downloads in the past. Those who would come clean about previous copyright infringement would not be prosecuted if they promised not to do it again. Few people actually responded to this offer, and the amnesty ended a year later, since amnesty from the RIAA did not protect one against civil suits by individual record companies or artists.

In a less controversial form, the RIAA is also responsible, when requested, for tracking sales of records, resulting in records being labeled “Gold” or “Platinum” depending upon numbers sold. Slightly more controversial at times is the unyielding support of artistic freedom as interpreted in the 1st amendment. Many find this one of the finer points of the RIAA because it allows for freedom of speech and expression, and will support artists who are attacked for controversial lyrics.

Musical Expert is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Musical Expert contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Jun 16, 2014

@Soulfox -- but the RIAA did help facilitate those downloads. It is easier to view the RIAA's tactics to stop copyright violations independently of the medium -- the RIAA doesn't like people ripping music off of CDs and sharing it no more than it likes people buying downloads legitimately and sharing those.

In fact, one might argue that the RIAA's alarm over copyright violations allowed for legitimate companies to sell songs on the Internet. People wanted to download music and not violate the law, and online music services are the result of that. Had the RIAA simply wanted to preserve lucrative CD sales, the company would have fought against online music vendors, too. The group didn't do that.

By Soulfox — On Jun 16, 2014

@Melonlity -- a lot of the criticisms of the RIAA has to do with the organization's apparent inability to embrace change. Technology has pretty well rendered compact discs obsolete because people want to download music these days. We know this to be true based on the number of legitimate, online sites that have popped up over the years and sell individual songs and even full albums for a low price.

The RIAA, instead of helping set up that system, spent its time suing people. Some people who criticize the organization say the group should have helped facilitate legal, online downloads instead of trying to defend an obsolete system.

By Melonlity — On Jun 15, 2014

It seems terribly unfair to attack the RIAA for trying to keep people from downloading music and not paying for it. What else is the group supposed to do? Allow people to effectively steal from artists? The RIAA is charged with protecting the interests of those artists and it would not be doing its job if it failed to throw fits about copyright violations.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Musical Expert contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Musical Expert, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.