Unclaimed Cash for Artists – Join “Project Unfound Artist”

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In this new music world of shattered revenue streams, it’s become all the more important for artists to be aware of where their money can come from. Licensing revenue and merchandising are two of the oft-quoted income streams that are now central to any artist’s attempt to sustain themselves.

But another important source of revenue is every artist’s right to be paid when their recordings are streamed on internet radio, satellite radio or cable or satellite television music services. The collection of these monies on artist’s behalf falls to an organization called SoundExchange in the U.S. (or it’s sister organization PPL when the performance occurs in the UK).

It’s safe to say, however, that many more people have signed up for iTunes than are aware of or registered with SoundExchange. According to this Wired article there are 7,700 artists who are due royalties but, as they’re unregistered with SoundExchange, they can’t be paid. If the money remains unclaimed after 3 years it go back into SoundExchange’s coffers. This may be a large part of the reason why there isn’t much of a push to find them in the first place.

To tackle the problem, entertaimnet lawyer Fred Willhelms and P2Pnet are moving to allow crowdsourcing to attempt to find the artists on the Unregistered Artist List

“Start tracking them down and letting them know they have money coming to them…

The next time you end up on hold, call up the list, Google a name, or search Facebook and MySpace.

“Send a note, or if you don’t feel like getting personally involved in the process, send the contact information to JSimson@soundexchange.com,” says Wilhelms.

“Get an artist paid.”

Of course, I’d advise that if you’re an artist, you make sure you’re registered with SoundExchange yourself first and foremost. Even if you’re not a US resident, you never know how your music is being used. And as services like YouTube become legit and start paying royalties, it’ll be SoundExchange who’ll make sure you’re compensated when someone uses your work.

It may not be a lot of money to start, but it’s a trickle that contributes to the stream.

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3 Responses to Unclaimed Cash for Artists – Join “Project Unfound Artist”

  1. Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

    Susan Kishner

  2. binary says:

    Can I just say that John Simson is the Executive Director of SoundExchange…emailing him, as Fred Wilhelms advises, may not be the most efficient way to get your band or label registered with SoundExchange. A cursory glance over the SoundExchange website offers more pertinent contacts, whose daily responsibilities involve exactly this…not the CEO. Neeta@soundexchange.com and sgerman@soundexchange.com stand out particularly.

  3. Hey Ryan,

    Thanks for the pointer, but the main thrust of the post wasn’t about registering with SoundExchange, but about helping those bands on the unregistered list collect royalties due. I don’t see a direct contact for that on the SX website, but if you have one for that specific purpose, please post it.

    I think Fred’s point is an important one: even if you don’t want to contact an artist who’s owed money directly, that artist should get paid – and if that means letting John Simpson know where that artist is located, I think it’s well worth it. I’d certainly disagree that just because he’s the Director he shouldn’t be contacted.

    I’ve spoken to John and he’s a very approachable man who has artist and rightsholders best interests at heart. I’m guessing he might even be grateful to people who help reduce the 7,000+ artists still owed.

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