SoundExchange Website to Let Artists Search and Claim Unmatched Recordings

Michael Huppe
Charlie Gross

Michael Huppe

In a move to bring more transparency and potentially help reduce black-box royalties, SoundExchange is updating its website to allow artists and labels to now see all recordings currently associated with their accounts, as well as allowing them to search and claim recordings in the organization’s pending and unmatched database.    

The new features are expected to be available on the SoundExchange website in November, according to a "coming soon" notice on that website. The new features will reside in the "My Catalog" section of SoundExchange Direct, "and marks the most significant update of our client portal since it was introduced in 2014, according to the agency.

The pending and unmatched database consists of International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC’s) that have not yet been matched to sound recordings (i.e., song titles and the artists and labels responsible for the unmatched recordings). 

Royalties from such unmatched recordings are often referred to in music industry parlance as black box money. By allowing artists and labels to directly search that database, they can make claims on recordings they own and, presumably when verified, begin to receive those royalties, thus reducing the black box.

With regards to the songs already associated with each label and artist, the list of associated recordings with each artist or label account will show the payment percentage each would receive whenever royalties for plays of those recordings are reported.

Other new features are only available to sound recording rights owners — i.e. record labels and artists that own their masters. Those new features include "nearly real-time transparency into active SCRCO overlaps and disputes on recordings," including giving the rival claimants the ability to resolve the issue themselves, according to the SoundExchange notice. This mechanism, said SoundExchange, "will reduce resolution times by months."

Finally, sound recording owners will be able to upload recording and release data for every sound recording they own. The organization says this new feature "will dramatically reduce the processing time" for ISRCs to appear in the organization’s database.