SoundExchange, the label/artist royalty collection group, is sending out $6.5 million in sound-recording performance royalties to recording artists and record company copyright owners in its fall 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- SoundExchange, the label/artist royalty collection group, is sending out $6.5 million in sound-recording performance royalties to recording artists and record company copyright owners in its fall 2004 allocation.

More is on the way in the next few years, according to SoundExchange executive director John Simson. He cites the expected growth of satellite radio and webcasting, which could yield an annual figure close to $50 million by 2006.

SoundExchange is the first performance-rights organization in the United States to collect and distribute digital audio transmission royalties to artists and sound-recording copyright owners.

The group represents more than 800 record companies and thousands of recording artists. Part of its goal, according to Simson, is to seek out indie labels and artists who are owed royalties for sound recordings played on satellite or cable TV music services or satellite radio services or streamed during noninteractive webcasts and to sign them up as members.

SoundExchange's member services include track-level accounting of performances and collection and distribution of foreign royalties.

The fall allocation includes royalties from cable and satellite TV music services Muzak, Music Choice and DMX; satellite broadcasters XM and Sirius; and, for the first time, royalties from webcasting and ephemeral licensing.

It is also the first allocation of royalties from Netherlands performance-rights organization SENA and from SOMEXFON, the Mexican neighboring-rights society, for the independent labels they represent.

SoundExchange has allocated more than $22.5 million since its first distribution in fall 2001.

The webcasting royalties collected for 1998-2002 are the subject of a challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and will be distributed following the resolution of that appeal.

Earlier this month, SoundExchange and two other noncontractual royalty-funds groups sent out the call to featured and nonfeatured artists to contact the groups before the end of the year for possible royalties owed. If the artists don't act soon, under the rules they might lose that money.

According to SoundExchange, there are 38,000 "lost" featured recording artists who are owed royalties but cannot be contacted because of incorrect or missing current addresses.