SoundExchange Paid Out a Record $88 Million in Q3, but Big Money Is Still Going Uncollected
SoundExchange Paid Out a Record $88 Million in Q3, but Big Money Is Still Going Uncollected

SoundExchange announced on Tuesday that it paid out a record $88 million to 18,300 artists and labels in the third quarter of 2011. The payments cover royalties collected from Internet radio, satellite radio and cable TV music-only channels.

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The size of this latest payout shows that digital performance royalties are continuing to grow at a good clip. A quarterly payout of $88 million implies an annual payout to artists and labels in the area of $350 million. SoundExchange paid out $249 million in all of 2010 and $156 million the prior year.

The Washington D.C.-based non-profit performance rights organization collects statutory royalties for digital transmissions and pays to member artists and labels. Its royalties involve only artists and labels, not music publishers.

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But royalties are still going uncollected because SoundExchange can't pay out money that has not been claimed. So the organization often partners with digital distributors and services in order to encourage the appropriate parties to register and collect money SoundExchange is holding for them.

Most recently, SoundExchange has partnered with CD Baby to match its list of unclaimed royalties to the digital distributor's membership. The two parties have identified 12,806 recording artists and 1,574 labels affiliated with CD Baby who are collectively owed more than $1 million. This week, CD Baby began sending emails to all matched artists and labels that explain to register with SoundExchange to get paid.

The partnership with CD Baby is just the latest attempt by SoundExchange to move unclaimed royalties. Earlier this year it partnered with The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) to identify 6,126 AFTRA member artists who were owed a cumulative $3.6 million in back royalties. It also teamed up with Facebook marketing startup RootMusic to reach the nearly 7,500 RootMusic artists who were owed $5.3 million in back royalties.