Jul 24, 2010
Thriving streaming marketplace and initiatives to send out “old money” credited with largest distribution in company history
Washington – SoundExchange, the non-profit performance rights organization appointed by Congress to pay digital royalties, began sending out payments totaling $54.8 million to recording artists and sound recording copyright holders. The quarterly distribution, the organization’s largest to date, includes royalties earned through play on Internet radio, satellite radio, cable TV music channels and increased revenue from foreign societies from which SoundExchange now collects. Digital royalties are on the rise across the board, but the organization also credits increased efforts to clean poor data, as well as partnerships with other organizations, with pushing the total above last quarter’s record distribution.
“The continued growth of internet and satellite radio have resulted in record distributions this year” said SoundExchange’s Executive Director John Simson. He added, “distributions have also grown because in the past few quarters we’ve been able to move a lot of ‘old money.’ Royalty payments which come in to SoundExchange earmarked for ‘Various Artists’ or ‘Label unknown’ get held up in our system. But with systematic manual research and automation where possible, we can correctly attribute those payments, adding millions of dollars to our normal distribution total.” Simson also noted that his organization has increased the staffing and technology resources allotted to these projects over the past year.
SoundExchange’s continued partnerships with other industry organizations, including independent label trade association, The American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), and database matches with dozens of groups which work with artists and labels, have aided SoundExchange in distributing money to those who had not yet registered to receive the royalties they earned. Because new registrants can collect any royalties earned in their name since 1996, new registrations often mean large payouts. SoundExchange’s efforts to get artists and independent labels to register have resulted in record rates of these first-time payments.
Simson was quick to point out that his staff’s accomplishments are aided by the help of the very artists and labels who are receiving these payments. The organization’s work with A2IM also resulted in a large number of claims on tracks which had been reported without label data. Through the pilot “TLC” (short for Track-Level Claiming) program, artists and labels are now able to view listings of their repertoire, turned in by services, that are incomplete and can submit claims for funds which were incorrectly attributed. The faulty reports can be as simple as a misspelling, or as complicated as information left blank or credited as “unavailable.” Once the information is confirmed, those payments can be routed to the correct artist and/or label.
“We’ve been very public about the challenges we face in distributing money,”Simson said of the quarter’s achievements, “Our mission as an organization to efficiently collect and distribute royalties is sometimes hampered by bad data and poor or no reporting, and we’re rising to that challenge. When we see tens of millions of dollars go out the door to the creators of music it only strengthens my staff’s resolve to make sure every dollar reaches the right artist and label.”
About SoundExchange: SoundExchange is the non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio, internet radio, cable TV music channels and other services that stream sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, created by Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the only entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties for featured recording artists and master rights owners. SoundExchange currently represents over 5,500 record labels, over 45,000 featured artists, and has paid out more than $470 million in royalties since its creation in 2003.