General FAQs

What licenses does SoundExchange administer/what royalties does SX administer?

SoundExchange administers the statutory license, which allows services to stream artistic content while paying a fixed rate for each play. SoundExchange collects and distributes royalties for the featured artist and the sound recording copyright owner when content is played on a non-interactive digital source.

What royalties does SoundExchange NOT administer/Does SX cover downloads?

Royalties for songwriting, publishing and composition are covered by organizations such as ASCAP, BMI and SESAC. Royalties for downloads are covered directly by the services that offer downloads.

How are royalties distributed to the right person?

SoundExchange takes great care to ensure that royalties are distributed to the correct person(s). Our Data Management team focuses entirely on ensuring that the millions of lines of data received from service providers is clean and matched correctly in our expansive database. Our Claims Department is solely dedicated to ensuring that repertoire is properly claimed by artists and labels.

Is there a performance right for traditional over-the-air radio broadcasts too?

SoundExchange has been at the forefront in the fight for performance royalties for traditional terrestrial radio. Currently, there is no performance right for over-the-air broadcasts. Artists and record labels are not compensated when their creative works are used by traditional radio.

Is there an administrative fee?

SoundExchange has the lowest administrative fee of any major collective management organization in the world. SoundExchange operates with the utmost efficiency, which allows the administrative fee to remain so low.

What is a sound recording copyright owner (SRCO)?

An SRCO is a person(s) who own(s) the master recording to recorded artistic content.

I’m already a member of ASCAP, BMI or SESAC. Don’t they cover this for me? What is the difference?

The royalties that SoundExchange collects and distributes are for the featured artist and the sound recording copyright owner. ASCAP, BMI and SESAC collect and distribute royalties for the songwriter, composer and publisher. Both satellite radio providers and webcasters pay SoundExchange when they stream music due to their utilization of the statutory license.

If I join SoundExchange can I still negotiate a license with a webcaster if I want to?

Absolutely. The statutory license was created as a benefit for service providers to ease the process of operation and allow open access to musicians’ full catalog of creative work. That said, it is completely within your rights to negotiate directly with webcasters should you decide that is best.

What are the benefits of becoming a member/is there a membership fee?

There is absolutely no fee when becoming a member with SoundExchange. Current benefits include:

  1. Maximize your revenue through foreign royalty collections. SoundExchange has more than 46 collection agreements with counterparts in 35 countries worldwide. When your music is played in their territory, they send your royalties to us, and we send it to you.
  2. Join effort to fight for long-term value of music. Hundreds of artists, thousands of other companies and record labels are working with SoundExchange to fight for your performance rights.
  3. Conference and Equipment Discounts. SoundExchange has started to offer discounts to conferences and equipment exclusively for our members.

What reports are provided with each payment/why did my statement contain so many different versions of one recording?

When you receive a payment from SoundExchange, you will also receive a statement that will detail the money you have earned for each track that has been played by various service providers. If the same song appears more than once on your detailed statement, it is simply the result of an instance of unique reporting by individual webcasters.

What is a featured artist/are artists receiving direct payments from SX?

A featured artist is an artist that is prominently featured on a track or album. A non-featured artist is an artist who is not prominently featured on a track or album (i.e. a session musician or a back-up vocalist). Royalties for non-featured artists are covered by organizations such as the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA). Visit Recording Artist Royalties to learn more. Featured artists are receiving direct payments from SoundExchange.

Can a featured artist performer sell their right to collect their artist royalties to a third-party purchaser?

Yes, SoundExchange will honor the irrevocable assignment of featured artist royalties to a third party provided that specific conditions are met. These conditions are set forth in the “Certification of Assignment of SoundExchange Featured Artist Royalties” form. To request a copy of this form or arrange for an assignments consultation, please contact our Support team at 1-800-961-2091 or via “Contact” in SoundExchange Direct.

What if there is more than one artist or a guest artist who performed on a song?

If you collaborate with another artist and they are featured on a recording, SoundExchange would treat that as a 50/50 collaboration unless directed otherwise by the two collaborators.

Do I need a digital royalty broker to get paid?

Do I need a digital royalty broker to be paid?

No. SoundExchange is the sole organization designated by the U.S. Library of Congress to collect and distribute digital performance royalties for sound recordings.

Recently, a handful of independent entities attempting to operate as brokers have begun to emerge, soliciting fees from creators (i.e., $19.99 per month) in return for providing what they consider an estimate of royalties a creator may be owed by SoundExchange.

Brokers such as these are not authorized SoundExchange partners or affiliates, and SoundExchange does not work with brokers or third-party vendors in this capacity. Therefore, we cannot comment on their methodology or offer insight into the accuracy of the information they distribute.

To learn more, click here.

I registered, but I haven’t received any money yet. What happened?

SoundExchange offers a monthly royalty payment program for 1) those that are signed up to receive electronic payments, 2) and have royalties due of at least $100.

Artists and labels that do not meet the minimum monthly threshold will continue to be paid on our regular, quarterly schedule (March, June, September, and December) under the organization’s existing guidelines. In order to receive a quarterly payment, you must have accrued at least $10 ($100 for a paper check) in royalties before a scheduled distribution. If you are under the threshold, SoundExchange will hold your royalties until you accrue enough royalties.

Do unclaimed royalties expire? Do I run the risk of losing my royalties if I do not register to receive them within a given amount of time?

SoundExchange is authorized by regulation to release older, unclaimed royalties to offset our costs. You can help us by spreading the word and getting recording artists and record labels to register with us.

Who pays SoundExchange? Can I get a list of services that report to SoundExchange?

More than 3,600 services are now paying SoundExchange and that number continues to grow every quarter. These services include satellite radio providers, webcasters and digital cable music providers.

Currently, you can find a full list of service providers paying SoundExchange here.

The artist on your unregistered list is no longer alive. What can be done to claim these funds?

When an artist passes away, his/her heirs are eligible to claim those royalties. Registering to receive royalties for a deceased artist requires one additional form and a copy of the will for the deceased. Please call our Customer Care team at 1-800-961-2091 for more information.

Does SoundExchange collect royalties for actors and comedians?

SoundExchange collects royalties for ALL sound recordings played on non-interactive digital radio. This includes recordings and soundtracks made by actors, comedians, and spoken word artists in addition to musicians. For clarification, SoundExchange does not collect royalties for videos or other visual media (including YouTube and VEVO).

While SoundExchange is primarily associated with the music community, an important part of our registrant base is made up of actors, comedians, and spoken word artists (including those who are already members of SAG-AFTRA).