RIAA VP Laughs At Consumerist's "Worst Company In America" Contest

David Hughes, a former Vice President of Technology Strategies and Digital Policy for Sony BMG who now serves as the Senior Vice President of Technology for the RIAA, held a question and answer session at Arizona State University this morning. The audience held several Consumerist readers, one of whom asked David about winning the “Worst Company In America” contest. Reader Anthony describes the event:

The RIAA is well-aware that they are becoming irrelevant. They are also aware that nobody likes them, but they don’t care about that. Someone also brought up the fact that the RIAA was recently voted as being the “worst company in America”, to which David responded with some laughs and a quip about how they’ve been “beating Exxon-Mobil for years” in that arena.

Other highlights of the talk include Mr. Hughes calling Steve Jobs a “hypocrite,” and some protesters crashing the party…

Four people, likely students, walked into the back of the room, all holding cardboard signs. One sign had a scythe attached and said, “Don’t fear the RIAAper.” Another guy had no pants on and had a sign that said, “The RIAA sued the pants off me.” Another girl had a sign that said, “Download like it’s 1999.” And the last girl had some spare change in her hand that was to go to “Metallica’s retirement fund.”


The RIAA Came to ASU Today [Anthony Garone]


Edit Your Comment

  1. superlayne says:

    Perhaps this is strong of me, but I do believe Lucifer himself, if he really exists, would back away from the evil of this “company.”

  2. Rajio says:

    I’m sure it was more of a cackle.

  3. Kornkob says:

    *shrug* It’s not as though Consumerist made any attempt whatsoever to make that ‘contest’ meaningful. It was really no different than the ‘election’ for a prom queen– a huge popularity contest with no substance –albeit in this case an ‘unpopularity contest’.

    I can’t imagine anyone takes such a thing seriously.

    (In fact, Consumerist doesn’t even take any real precuations against ballot stuffing in that contest)

  4. thrillhouse says:

    David responded with some laughs and a quip about how they’ve been “beating Exxon-Mobil for years” in that arena.

    They must have been following the tournament

  5. I really want to write them a scathing letter…but I think they would turn around a sue me…so I won’t…

  6. acambras says:

    He may be laughing now, but wait until the Golden Shit Award arrives at RIAA headquarters.

  7. joopiter says:

    Everybody wave to the RIAA, as they are clearly reading this site!

    (How many fingers you choose to use is entirely up to you)

  8. MisterComputerHeadDotCom says:

    Everyone hates the RIAA i didnt know it was even a contest! but I would love to see the ballot results.

    And Hey “12-Inch Idongivafuck sandwich”… 12 inches? In the immortal words of Cartman from SouthPark Midgits are not kewl… Frowning Face :(

  9. jdubz says:

    The RIAA can laugh now but consumers will ultimately have the last laugh as new generations will exponentially hate this ridiculous company. It is much easier now than it ever has been before to seek out independent artists. Older generations didn’t have much choice (unless they wanted to expend considerable effort) but to listen to what the RIAA decided you should listen to. At every opportunity I discuss with whoever is willing to listen the tactics of this despicable company.

  10. josh1701 says:

    A great quote from a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation appears in “RIAA asks for IP address records,” in today’s edition of The Daily Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania’s student newspaper:

    “This is the RIAA’s latest attempt to get money out of college students,” she said. “If the goal is to get people to stop sharing copyrighted files, it’s clear that three and a half years later it’s failed.”

    Unfortunately, the article also reports that “Penn ‘essentially complies’ with the RIAA and preserves enough information to identify individuals.”

  11. Kanchi says:

    To be fair, EVERYONE was laughing at the results of the ‘contest’. All it showed was how shallow, petty, and uniformed most of the voters were. It was far more a critique of those taking the poll, than of the companies on it.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    either today’s college students are getting richer, or the RIAA is really scraping the bottom here. i used to dig thru dirty clothes for $0.25 to buy a taco…there’s no way i would’ve been able to come up with their settlement for swashbuckling even a single song.

  13. Paradise says:

    must be nice not to have a conscience and believe two wrongs make a right.

  14. magic8ball says:

    Dear University of Arizona students who protested at the above-mentioned meeting: you are aaaaawesome. That is all.

  15. Craig says:

    I can’t wait until you guys grow up and start producing creative content of your own in the society you’ve created. I’ll be sure to visit you in your cardboard boxes.

  16. @Kanchi: Really? Even the people who voted for the RIAA? Only shallow and petty people dislike the RIAA?

  17. myrrh says:

    @Craig: Thanks for having the balls to say that. The RIAA may be misguided, poorly managed, ill-informed about technology, and burying its collective head in the sand, but, evil? They’re out to collect money for people making art. Art! that really so “evil”? If you have a problem with copyright law or with the way copyrights are monetized, c’mon, let’s have some discussion of that, instead of treating the RIAA as the easy target they already present themselves to be.

  18. Synthaxx says:


    I’d much rather live in a cardboard box and create something then to create the same swill over and over just to buy another diamond chandelier for my gulfstream.

    I only listen to the former as well, since they are the ones that actually enjoy creating something unique.

    Remember kids, “stealing” from rich bastards isn’t really a crime, they have MORE then enough allready.

  19. lpranal says:

    There’s an old saying that goes, the devil’s biggest trick was convincing the world he doesn’t exist. I find this statement sort of along those lines…

  20. wessev says:


    You think they are collecting money for ART??!?! If thats the case then they should only be collecting pennies on the dollars if they are protecting the poeple who actually make that “art”, since thats the portion those people see to begin with.

    They are collecting money for and protecting the interests of media conglomerations, which they represent. They are collecting money for marketing, promotion and for the ability to continue to pay out massive amounts of money for expenses such as lobbyist for their industry. Yes the RIAA and media companies are some the most generous givers to law makers so they can further their hold on their monopoly.

    Are they evil for trying to protect their interests? No. However, the methods they choose to go about it and their lack of regard for who they target is pure evil – and thats the point that is being made here.

    Their business model is outdated and stale. Unfortunately for them, times and technology have change significantly over the last decade. Instead investing in ways that could help change the way they make and sell music to consumers they chose to instead to invest in legal fees, attorneys and lobbyists.

  21. royal72 says:

    @myrrh: they’re easy targets, because they don’t give one shit about art. these assholes will happily pay an artist a measly 25 cents per album, charge them for all the costs involved (meaning the musician gets about a nickel per unit), and then they also keep the copyright of the “art” so they can continue to make money.

    not sure what else there is to have a discussion about.

  22. Buran says:


    Uhm. No. They don’t protect a thing. Read up sometime on their abusive contracts and business practices.

  23. Buran says:


    Really? Gee, then why weren’t all the famous artists/bands from years prior to the RIAA living out of cardboard boxes?

  24. juri squared says:

    I just think behavior like this proves how little the RIAA cares about the people who pay their salaries. You’d think they’d be a little more worried about the consumer backlash.

  25. uburoibob says:

    Since we are comparing the RIAA to the devil, I will play devil’s advocate. As far as I am concerned, consumers have only a partial stake in this argument. Until the artists are lined up like Death On The Nile to deal the RIAA its final blows, there’s really not a lot of validity to this stance. Sure, they may be evil, but if, as you all indicate, it’s the artists that are getting whacked here, then it’s the artists who need to speak up. I guess until we all can just take whatever each of us does from each other without paying for it, we need to figure out a way to make it work within the capitalist model. Why not target the health insurers first, then the oil companies, then a zillion other corporations who control things that are essential for life. Once we communize everything, we can try to get all of the artists of the world to contribute their work for free – if there is still a world.

  26. junkmail says:

    Craig & myrrh
    Do either of you really have any idea how the RIAA does business? If you honestly think the artists are seeing a cent of the money the RIAA is extorting from college kids, grandmas, and 10-year-olds, you’re out of your minds.

    I have no problem protecting creative content, it’s what I do for a living. The problem is with the RIAA. Period.

  27. mentalsticks says:

    Historically, what record companies did was to press vinyl. Since then they’ve taken over marketing, production and whatnot. But as the price of pressing mp3s is close to nil, and as the most effective music marketing is word-of-mouth and word-of-net, they’ve become obsolete, so why would they have a right to 80-90% of everything we spend on music?

    Artists should realize this and get rid of their record companies and replace them with agents/producers. There’s more than enough money to be made from legal downloads, concerts, merchandise, ‘special edition’ stuff and radio/tv broadcast royalties. End user royalties are only a relevant source of income to the likes of Madonna and Metallica and frankly, I don’t have any inclination to sponsor them. They are rich enough already.

  28. Smoking Pope says:

    @myrrh: They’re not out to collect money for people making art. How much of the settlement money has gone to the artists they’re supposedly protecting? None. They’re out to collect money for people who generally exploit these artists.

    Downloading songs for free is wrong, and I personally don’t do it. But the RIAA is more interested in putting the technology genie back in the bottle and… You see? Every time I weigh in on this subject, I get on my soap box.

    Anyway, the reason why many hate the RIAA is not because they’re against illegal file downloading. It’s because of their heavy-handed tactics, and their necessitating anti-consumer, technology crippling, anti-fair use… Well, there I go again…

  29. Bay State Darren says:

    @joopiter: Joopiter for the win!

  30. huertanix says:

    I wasn’t able to get my lunch hour pushed back to 10am, so I could only show up after 11am and no one was in the room. They did have a plate of cookies, though. I took the Milanos…

  31. imjustabill says:

    @Craig: As a musician myself, I would like to remind you that we don’t wake up in the morning thinking “Oh boy, I can’t wait to produce creative content!” it’s “I can’t wait to make music”. The goal of making music isn’t to make a pile of money, it’s to be heard. The feeling you get from making music is far more important than any return you might be making from it.

  32. asherchang says:

    I aggree with the writer how it’s annoying when people only make complaints about how music should be free, how filesharing illegally isn’t wrong, etc. I mean, they’re completely ignoring copyright law and the fact that an artist still does recieve a small royalty from every CD bought, and there’s studio technicians and advertisers and salespeople to be paid.

    No matter what we personally feel about p2ping non-free music, to make any sound argument against the RIAA, we should focus soley on their vicious bullying and attempts at extortion and total disregard for any sense of decency.

  33. HawkWolf says:


    The RIAA is the cop that beats you up after arresting you, when they should have just taken you to the station in a squad car.

    Filesharing’s illegal in its current incarnation. But, the RIAA is policing it in a heavy-handed way, and when they benefit, the artists… well, it’s the Recording Industry Association of America, not the Recording Artist Association Of America, guys. Who’d you think they were gonna serve?

  34. popeye_doyle says:

    @Kornkob: Thanks for explaining how Prom Queen elections are really not based on how well the candidate will do as Prom Queen, but are actually popularity contests.

  35. zenny says:

    I’d like to apply. I’ve actually written several consumer activist blogs, including this one on the RIAA: http://blogtopicz.com/item/2007/03/the-rerise-of-the-riaa-

  36. ckilgore says:

    As a kid I would laugh when my brother would beat me up, you know, as a defense mechanism. This seems eerily familiar.

  37. MostNutsEver says:

    Don’t look at me. I voted for Haliburton.

  38. DontFenceMeIn says:

    asherchang, Craig & myrrh – you are either RIAA stooges or you’re just COMPLETELY ignorant about the issue.

    I happen to know Sufjan Stevens and the Arcade Fire – two very popular bands for P2P downloading – and they’re doing just fine. You know why? Because they’re working with independent labels. This means they aren’t having to pay back their label from a measly percentage (and actually both of them OWN their own master recordings – I don’t see you lobbying for the major label artists to have this in their contracts, odd, since you seem to care so much about the artist in your posts here).

    Anyway if you truly cared about the artists you wouldn’t be supporting the RIAA.

  39. Craig says:

    Remember kids, “stealing” from rich bastards isn’t really a crime, they have MORE then enough allready.

    Sure, that line works in court every time.

    Gee, then why weren’t all the famous artists/bands from years prior to the RIAA living out of cardboard boxes?

    Because P2P didn’t exist.

  40. mac-phisto says:

    my friend justin is an independent musician. his band played in a bar in nyc not too long ago. they charged $10 at the door & there were A LOT of people there. at the end of the nite, i asked him how much they made. he said $50. you guys only made $50 a person? no. the band made $50. i figure that was about 1% of the door take, not to mention all the drinks the bar sold. he didn’t care, he just likes playing guitar.

    they shot some clips from that show & had a free video download for awhile on their site. somehow, the bar owner saw the inside of his bar in the video (justin probably forwarded him a copy) & the ass sicced a lawyer on him, threatening to sue b/c the establishment did not authorize his use of the clips in his video.

    they folded the band & he’s in hiding now…i liken his experience to that of many artists dealing with the music industry. i could give a rats’ ass if the industry folded tomorrow…music & musicians will survive.

  41. asherchang says:

    @DontFenceMeIn: I’m not an idiot, I know that independent labels give their artists a far larger share of the profits than big record companies do. But still, because of all the money that they spend on advertizing and distribution, big record companies do end up selling a higher volume of CDs, and so the artists get compensated through smaller portions of higher sales. And arguing “we’re not hurting the artists” still does not explain why the RIAA is evil. Pointing to these ridiculous lawsuits and their refusal to remove DRM and their attempted rate hike for NPR, however, does.

  42. madderhatter says:

    @Craig: Sure it existed in one form or another. Remember the days of recording off the radio on your cassette player or swapping tapes or any of the other means of “sharing” music ? How do any of those differ from on-line sharing ? Exactly.

    Better go now, my 3GB CD Anthology is almost done downloading. I’ve got some listening to do and some torrents to make !

    Disclaimer: if any of the F’ing morons from the RIAA are reading this – I’m KIDDING, possibly.

  43. Americana says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    I believe what he meant is “anyone who didn’t vote for Exxon or Halliburton is an evil, baby-eating, ignoramus whose intellects pale in comparison to mine”.

    Oh, the irony!

  44. dvs009 says:

    Blockbuster Video didn’t make the list? I’m sure it would have made the top 4. It is hated by both customers and employees. There is even an ihateblockbuster.com site

  45. JimC says:

    My favorite concept is —-consumer responsibility—-. Too expensive? Boycott. This “I only stole it because they are rich” excuse is soooo lame. There has been tons of music out there for $8-14. No, not every new hit CD, but if enough people would just boycott the overpriced stuff, the price would come down. Guaranteed.

  46. AndruwJones says:

    The RIAA is a joke. They win lawsuit after lawsuit, and the technology gets better and better. (See: Napster > WinMX > Grokster > Limewire > Torrents.) Most of us could never afford to consume anywhere near the amount of art/entertainment we consume, so we’re not really costing the most artists anything anyway. It’s hard to feel bad for people (marketers, broadcasters, packagers, lobbyists, lawyers) who make their hefty salaries on the backs of one artist’s labor. If they can enforce their laws, great- but clearly the WORLD Wide Web moves a little too fast for the American justice system.

  47. realperson says:

    Ok look here’s the issue, if downloading is wrong is soooo bad, then
    A) why dont artists put out good songs instead of 1 or 2 radio songs and the other 9 songs suck,

    B)go after people who are not only downloading but selling the music

    C)target the highspeed internet compinies and tell them to target people who are downloading complete albums weekly and stop them instead of staking out a 10yr old girls house for a song or 2

    D)make cd’s less than 18 bucks for 9 songs and 2 skits

    E)stop putting out great remixes and not having them available anywhere including legal sites

    F)stop making those damn copywrite protected software full of crap that spies on you and crashes your computer even if u buy a song leagally or download it leagally.

    if they can do that then there wouldnt be an issuse, when i was younger and i wanted a song i recorded it from the radio, made a mix tape and went on my way now i hear song cant find it cause its a an exclusive mix only available in BF egypt so i download it or i hear a song buy the cd and love the cd, now i hear a song download the 1 song cause the rest of the cd sucks!