This quote from TorrentFreak:

Under the “sign-a-record-deal-or-remain-poor system”, 99% of artists didn’t get record deals with the abusive record industry – and out of those who did, 99.5% never saw a cent in royalties. Thus, we are moving away from a system that deliberately kept 99.995% of artists without any form of regular income for artistry.

(Emphasis is theirs.) A few articles go the same path slamming record industries for passing along very few bucks to artists. Are these numbers true?

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    For the first number, what's your definition of "artist"? For the second number "never saw a cent" and "without any form of regular income" is clearly a manipulation, as they do get money upfront. However it is true that most don't get a cut of sales. – vartec Oct 8 '12 at 8:34
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    "never saw a cent in royalties." - Most deals take costs off your royalties. IE they give you an $X advance, spend $Y on production, marketing etc then give you 20% royalties on sales, but only after deducting all the money they spent on you for production, marketing and the advance. I don't have a reference to hand or I would have made this an answer!. – Nick Oct 8 '12 at 9:19
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    Numbers involving lots of 9s 5s and no other digits are probably guesses and/or hyperbole. There may be some truth in the claim but the lazy numbers undermine it's credibility. – RedGrittyBrick Oct 8 '12 at 10:00
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    btw. theoatmeal.com/comics/music_industry – vartec Oct 8 '12 at 14:07
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    I have an album on iTunes. It was put there by my record company without any contractual right and without paying me a cent (ever). Anecdotally, yes, they are basically frauds. – Sklivvz Oct 8 '12 at 19:44

The International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) can provide the figures for the number of member societies per country and their members.

Typically a country will have a 'mechanical rights' and a 'performing rights' society collecting licence fees and distributing royalties. Some countries have joint societies or may be part of a multi-country joint venture.

When a music composer and or song writer becomes a member of such a society they enter into agreements about their musical works and other Interested Parties of those works, such as publishers. The interested parties of a musical work can be checked online using the ISWC-Net service of CISAC.

For example "A HARD DAY'S NIGHT" has an ISWC (International Standard Work Code) of T-010.147.507-3 and its Interest Parties are two creators: LENNON JOHN WINSTON and MCCARTNEY PAUL JAMES

What can't be stated is the number of composers or authors that are not member of such music societies, and so the quoted percentage cannot be verified.

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    This is about royalties and not copyright. That is - record labels have no choice but to pay the second (copyright fees are payed in order to be able to put CDs in stores), not so with the first. – Sklivvz Oct 9 '12 at 16:44
  • Royalties are paid by the music copyright societies to authors and composers from the licence fees they collect from radio/TV/youtube/airlines/restaurants/bars/..... etc. – SPA Oct 9 '12 at 16:52

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