"Record companies use questionable accounting tactics and contractual provisions to get away with unconscionable things," said accountant Wayne Coleman, whose St. Louis firm has recovered more than $100 million in unpaid royalties for clients, including Haggard. "Of the thousands of royalty compliance audits I've conducted over the past 30 years, I can recall only one instance where the artist owed money to the company." (LA Times)
The record companies simply drag their feet and in the worst cases, just clear off with the money.
Artists will readily admit that they are as lambs to the slaughter. All the ones I have talked to about this recommend that up and coming musicians prioritise the finance side as a number one issue because they knew sod all about it in the beginning.
I have to relate a related, if not on-topic story: Some years ago a friend of mine hung out with a band called The Move. He was also, for reasons he could never quite fathom, a favourite of Don Arden, who at that time was managing The Move. Don Arden is perhaps only known today by some as the father of Sharon Osbourne, but back in the Sixties he was a very serious manager and fixer, having signed Gene Vincent,The Small Faces and the Move. Arden had brought Sam Cooke to England, along with Little Richard and Brenda Lee. He was not one to suffer fools, or indeed to suffer at all. He had a reputation for being very heavy and famously had Robert Stigwood dangled from a balcony by his ankles for attempting to lure the Faces away from Don.
My friend had written a song called Something and it had been recorded along with a Roy Wood number called Blackberry Way. Don turned to my friend and asked which song should be the "A" side, "Something" or "Blackberry Way". My friend thought for a moment and told Don that Blackberry Way was probably the better song, despite having written "Something". The rest, as they say is history. In February of 1969, "Blackberry Way" went to number one.
If you ever have the time, look up "Something". It's a great song, and sung by Carl Wayne, it could have been keeping my friend in decent red wine if he had been perhaps a little less modest in the self-belief department.