No Debate Here: Paying Recording Artists Is Our Primary Objective

No Debate Here: Paying Recording Artists Is Our Primary Objective

We couldn’t agree more when people say recording artists should be paid every penny they are owed.

As Chris Castle discussed in his recent Music•Technology•Policy blog post, it’s never been easier to register to receive performance royalties.

SoundExchange paid $802.6 million in performance royalties in 2015. We manage over 134,000 registered accounts. We’ve paid out more than 95% of royalties collected to date. And our administration rate is under 5%, the lowest in the industry.

We are transparent and vocal about wanting to get even more artists registered and pay them the royalties they earned. As part of that, and in an effort to take every possible route we can to pay the right people, we post a list of artists and bands for whom we have unpaid royalties. Being transparent is in our DNA.

So why do we have any unpaid artists? This is an often-misunderstood issue, and there are a few reasons.

Sometimes recording artists do not register with SoundExchange. This doesn’t mean we can’t “find” them. In order to receive royalties from SoundExchange, artists must sign up and provide us the requisite information – a process that is simple and keeps getting easier every year (especially now with our online registration). Not everyone wants to register with us, and at the end of the day, we can’t force them to do so.

This list includes a number of bands that are in fact partially paid, and those bands are marked with an asterisk. The asterisk indicates that the band is not 100% registered, meaning that while some members of the band have registered, others have not. There can be many reasons for this. Sometimes we see this when the missing performer is deceased and their estate has not settled. But, whatever the case, it’s clear that sometimes our critics ignore the asterisk and assume we can’t “find” a particular act, instead of doing their homework and understanding what our list actually describes.

Our work to find artists never stops. We engage in extensive and regular outreach and data-matching exercises with organizations throughout the industry. Past industry partners include ASCAP, CDBaby, Tunecore, BandPage, ReverbNation and more than 150 others. Our outreach team leaves no stone unturned when trying to get artists to register for their royalties; we call them, email them, reach out through social media, show up at performances, place ads in music trades and, yes, we put their name on a list to get their attention or that of their friends or associates.

Does our transparency make us a little more open to unfounded criticism? Sure. But that’s a risk we’re always willing to take, especially if it helps us get more artists paid.