Getting You Paid: Explaining Rights Management

Getting You Paid: Explaining Rights Management

Sorting out conflicting claims over performance royalties represents one of the most important – and most complex – issues we face at SoundExchange.

Disputes over who should receive royalties for a sound recording can stem from paperwork errors to fundamental disagreements over the ownership of repertoire. Our Rights Management Department works every day to ensure the correct recording artists and rights owners receive accurate payment for their work.

“We created the department five years ago to resolve claims disputes, and as a result of our efforts we’ve sorted out hundreds of millions of dollars in overlapping claims,” SoundExchange President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Huppe said.

The Rights Management Department diligently resolves domestic and international disputes. To verify that the correct performers and sound recording copyright owners receive payment, we created a process that allows us to identify and resolve overlapping claims for royalties among multiple rights owners and featured artists. The most important step in the process includes gathering repertoire claims from rights owners and the royalties owed to each performer for their contribution on sound recordings.

From 2013 through 2015 we identified and resolved more than 784,000 overlapping claims effecting the payment of $280 million in performance royalties.

“That’s money we got to the correct artists and rights owners,” Huppe said.

Our Rights Management approach works for everyone – major labels, indie labels, artists/performers, producers, engineers, everyone involved in the creative process and our international partners – because we address incoming, overlapping and resolving claims for all SoundExchange registrants. We work with these registrants to secure the necessary data to direct royalties accurately.

There are important steps artists and rights owners can take to ensure our Rights Management Department streamlines a claims dispute.

Rights owners should:

  • Register for free with SoundExchange here.
  • Understand that royalties distributed by SoundExchange are for performers and labels alike
  • Submit the repertoire for which you have the right to collect streaming royalties. Be sure to include the effective start and end dates of your collection rights for all applicable territories
  • Know your music catalog
  • Remember that we can run track level claiming exercises and generate a report in order to verify you are being paid correctly. Through these claiming exercises, we can also identify repertoire that is not paying you and create overlapping claims, where necessary
  • Respond to any overlapping claim reports we send. If you don’t respond to our reports, we can’t help you get the money you are owed

Artists should:

  • Register for free with SoundExchange, as mentioned above. It is important to understand that SoundExchange is not the same as ASCAP and BMI, which manage songwriters’/publishers’ interests. Royalties distributed by SoundExchange are for artists and rights owners
  • Understand what a featured performer is and how this is different from a non-featured performer
  • If you are in a band, determine the share or percentage of featured artist royalties that each performer should receive for a sound recording

Rights Management may be complex, but it’s also among the most important issues we address at SoundExchange because it directly affects your royalties and results in making sure the proper rights owners and artists are paid.

To learn more, read the information on our website here.

Artists and rights owners with questions can call (202) 696-1841 or email us at [email protected].