At the very close of 2009, royalty collections agency SoundExchange finally revealed their Unpaid Artist List, and chances are there’s a band you like on the list. Without spending a dime, you can help bands get checks in the mail. Welcome to 2010.
Here’s how it works, in a very simplified nutshell: SoundExchange is a USA company tasked by the RIAA to collect streaming & radio play royalties, process the checks, and send the money out to Sound Recording Copyright Owners (artists & record labels). SoundExchange represents 43,000+ registered artists – indie and major – but the only way SoundExchange can send checks to artists is if artists & labels register in their database. Since not everyone is registered in their database, many, many artists have checks just waiting at SoundExchange that they do not know about.
SoundExchange is arguably one of the most controversial
agencies in the American music industry. For many years SoundExchange has been critiqued for mysteriously not finding copyright owners – but it’s not true that SoundExchange employees keep the monies that are unpaid. Technically, the unpaid monies are dispersed to SoundExchange members (SRCOs).
Unfortunately thousands of independent small labels and unsigned artists don’t know about SoundExchange, or how it works and why. This is the important part: it’s money in the bank.
But first it must be claimed. Right now there’s about $200 million in unpaid royalties, and it would just be wrong if SoundExchange got to keep all that cash. It’s yours.
Put a stop to the suck. Help end the potential for misinformation and fiduciary secrecy between industry and art.
Music Fans: To help keep SoundExchange honest, music fans can finally participate and search the list of unpaid artists, with promises of future lists to come. Anyone can use this search to find bands on the unpaid artist list or search the PLAYS list for more specific information about the tracks that were played, and about the check in your name waiting for you at SoundExchange.
The operable word is anyone. So if you are a fan, and sitting around bored at your desk job, or just feeling like doing a good deed for music without spending a dime, how about spreading the word about the new SoundExchange Unpaid Artists list, searching for a band or artist you like, and keep track of what happens. If you reach out to an artist on the list and they do not respond to you, keep track of it. When you have had enough altruism, make a copy of your list and send SoundExchange your results.
Imagine how awesome it will be to contact a band or artist you love and tell them “you have money, it’s just waiting for you.”
music tip? send it to @coreythrace or corey[at]sfappeal.com