If you want to fix the music industry, here’s one place to start: SoundExchange.
SoundExchange is a music industry organization tasked with administering hundreds of millions in royalties from Pandora, Sirius XM Radio, iHeartRadio, and nearly every internet radio platform in the US. Yet SoundExchange remains totally unknown by many of the largest artists in the world.
Like these 125 artists, who are receiving nothing from SoundExchange because they aren’t even registered, based on a few hours of searching Digital Music News on SoundExchange’s own website. That is just a small percentage of the tens of thousands of artists (or even more) not getting paid, and part of the reason why an estimated 20-50 percent of royalties never reach the artist.
This list represents millions in unpaid royalties, most of which is kept by SoundExchange (or even paid out to large music companies) if not claimed.
- 3rd Bass
- Chet Faker
- Arcade Fire
- Andy Gibb
- Atoms for Peace
- Astor Piazzolla
- Bad English
- Big Audio Dynamite
- Fleetwood Mac
- Big Tent Revival
- Billy Thorpe
- Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson
- Black Flag
- Body Count
- Booker T. & the M.G.’s
- Buffalo Springfield
- C+C Music Factory
- Catherine Wheel
- Charli Baltimore
- Chet Baker Quartet
- Chris Tucker
- Cliff Richard & the Drifters
- Cocteau Twins
- Corrosion of Conformity
- Crazy Town
- Da Lench Mob
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
- Das EFX
- Dee Dee Ramone
- Deep Purple
- DJ Clue
- Dirty Vegas
- Don Johnson
- Eddy Grant
- Eddie Fisher
- Empire Brass Quintet
- Faith No More
- Faster Pussycat
- Fleet Foxes
- Flipmode Squad
- Force MD’s
- Folk Implosion
- Fred Astaire
- Gary Lewis & the Playboys
- Geto Boys
- Girl Talk
- God Street Wine
- Grand Master Flash
- Goodie Mob
- Insane Clown Posse
- Jerry Garcia
- Jets to Brazil
- Jethro Tull
- Junior M.A.F.I.A.
- Kriss Kross
- L.A. Guns
- Long Beach Dub Allstars
- Lost Boyz
- Milky Chance
- Milli Vanilli
- Mott the Hoople
- Main Source
- Massive Attack
- Men at Work
- New Bomb Turks
- New Edition
- Nick Cave
- Nightmares on Wax
- Primitive Radio Gods
- Seattle Symphony Orchestra
- Showbiz & A.G.
- Shudder to Think
- Simple Minds
- Siouxsie & the Banshees
- Slum Village
- Soul Coughing
- Tame Impala
- The Afghan Whigs
- the Beatnuts
- The Carter Family
- The Clash
- The Flying Burrito Brothers
- The Jerry Garcia Band
- The Jimi Hendrix Experience
- The Lox
- The Ohio Players
- The O’Jays
- The Partridge Family
- The Pharcyde
- The Platters
- The Power Station
- The Samples
- The Spinners
- The Temptations
- The Three Tenors
- The Yardbirds
- Thompson Twins
- Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
- Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Think you may be owed money from internet radio plays? Check the list on SoundExchange’s site.
Image by William Ross, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.o).
I went and registered for record I did that went big (platinum, grammy nomitated ). They said they had no record of any monies owed.
If any of the tracks from the album have been played on Pandora, Sirius, or virtually any other US-based internet radio channel, there should me money there. What release, may I ask?
SoundExchange is based out of Washington D.C.
That pretty much says it all.
If any of the tracks from the album have been played on Pandora, Sirius, or virtually any other US-based internet radio channel, there should me money there. What release, may I ask?
I have contacted a number of active artists about this throughout the last several years in my free time. Most ignored me. Some even seemed to think I was a scammer for simply suggesting they check it out. Apparently we still have a huge disconnect in information when it comes to royalties.
Quite honestly I am all for redistributing this money to other registered artists proportionally. We have given everyone more than enough time to get the act together. If you don’t sign up then your share should just be forfeited.
Paul, you may want to consider that the SX web list is incorrect/out of date instead of these artists aren’t getting paid. I know for a fact that a very prominent artist I work with on this list is signed up and receiving their cut (and has been for literally years).
OK, so maybe they should update their database?
Not sure how not maintaining db is a defense, it shows negligence and further erodes credibility. After all, if SE is presenting an out-of-date database to the world with artists that are getting paid, wouldn’t that same database also not contain artists that also aren’t getting paid? Among other errors, that SE is either aware of, or not aware of?
Article: ARTIST AREN’T BEING PAID BY SX
Response: Many of these artists are being paid
PR: WHY ARE YOU DEFENDING SX
I had no idea that the list represents millions in unpaid royalties, most of which is kept by SoundExchange (or even paid out to large music companies) if not claimed, was that large.. It was very interesting information to learn and found out. I enjoyed learning new information reading this.
Well, Ted Nugen’t’s off the list, so I guess SoundExchange finally “found” him (their historical excuse for these shenanigans).
You cannot blame SoundExchange for not paying someone who does not bother to sign up. I’ve been bugging my Artist’s for years and some still don’t bother. Is that SoundExchange’s fault? NO it’s the Artist and/or their Manager’s fault. SoundExchange is doing the best they can and have been paying us more and more every month for years!
Stop looking for bad guys at SoundExchange and refocus on GOOGLE or Alphabet, or the ISP’s if you really want to fix things. EVERY pirated download goes through an ISP, they could fix the entire problem if they wanted to, and we ALL KNOW IT.
Those are two separate problems, and frankly, we write about both of them. Just by pointing to another issue, doesn’t minimize or negate the first one.
What I’m pointing to here is a huge moral hazard at SoundExchange, and what could possibly be purposeful obfuscation. I’ve been helping a company release an album, and working with a number of interesting artists along the way. I asked one or two of the artists about their SoundExchange royalties, and neither had any idea what I was talking about. You see, that obscurity in itself almost guarantees that this artist won’t sign up; it’s a problem that results in SoundExchange not having to pay that artist (I’m still not sure if he’s signed up or not).
You know who else called me? The CEO of a serious indie label, who had a major ‘WTF’ moment realizing that a lot of artists had no idea what SoundExchange was (and weren’t signed up).
So forget about who’s to blame, how do you fix that problem? Berklee says 20-50% of royalties go unpaid; how do you solve that?
Remember, SoundExchange takes a lot of the money they process and circulates it back into the organization for overhead. That number is a little high, if you ask me, and sort of reminds me of the problems you see at many non-profits: the money that comes in doesn’t go to the starving children in Africa, it mostly goes to office space, CEO salaries and more promotion to get more money. It’s a problem that’s baked into organizations like these, and the moral hazard is that lower collection levels bring more money back into the company (whose instinct, like every other company in our capitalist system, is to survive).
I’ll start digging into the numbers to show you more. I believe there are alternatives to this system.
SoundExchange has under a 5% amin rate (what they use for overhead as a percentage of what they pay out) which is the lowest in the industry.
“purposeful obfuscation” is a cool term, bro. However, you put forth absolutely no evidence to suggest that SoundExchange is doing that.
On the contrary this very list (along with an abundance of evidence you ignore) proves that they’re NOT doing that.
As far as I’m concerned Sound exchange is pretty much a scam. I’ve signed up several times and keep getting the run around. I know several artists and only one told me they received money from sound exchange but I don’t even know if that’s the truth. I first heard of Sound Exchange in 2009. I signed up in 2009. It’s 2017 and still nothing and everytime they claim my case is closed I sign up again.
I collect royalties for many Latin artists, and can confirm that we registered Astor Piazzolla two years ago. There are unfortunately many errors in SoundExchange’s own database, so what you listed is actually incorrect. Also, bear in mind that the heirs of some acts like Jimi Hendrix have no incentive to register, because there are no royalties for pre-1972 recordings, thanks to idiotic quirks of United States copyright law.
If you’re interested in doing some real responsible journalism you should really talk to someone at SoundExchange before running with something like this. You might be surprised by the kind of things you learn about an organization by actually talking to an organization.
For example: when an artist appears with an asterisk next to their name –such as Arcade Fire, the first band named in your headline– it doesn’t mean that that band is “not getting paid”, it simply means that one or more members are not getting paid. In the case of Arcade Fire it might be like the second violin player on their first ep or something, meaning that like 99% of the bands’ royalties might still be paying out to the artist.
See my comment below. SoundExchange was asked about this, and said nothing about second violinists and minor issues. If they respond again with a clarification, we’ll be sure to publish that. But I’m getting the sense that maybe they’re not really sure what’s going on with their own database.
Additionally, it strikes me that if there’s an issue finding the second violinist, they should list that person’s name, not the band’s name?
Hey Paul… i manage a band on this list and i can assure you they’re getting paid. Artists listed with asterisks often have some minor issues with one or more titles in their accounts, but are registered otherwise. Many of those who you have on this list are artists whose names are often misspelled or contain non-letter characters , which can cause all sorts of registry issues. For example, many people will just type “NWA” instead of “N.W.A.” with periods, or “C&C Music Factory” instead of “C+C Music Factory”. Perhaps most tellingly, your list actually includes one of these misspellings with “Kriss Kross” (which contains one ‘s’ too many). I don’t disagree that everyone should be getting the word out about collecting potentially unclaimed royalties, but you probably shouldn’t include any artists with an asterisk in a list of those described as ‘receiving nothing’.
I emailed SoundExchange on what the asterisk meant, and they didn’t mention anything about ‘minor’ issues. I’m not saying that’s not the case, but surprised SoundExchange wouldn’t at least take that opportunity to clarify.
Here’s exactly what they told DMN:
“The asterisk signifies that royalties may be available for that artist. The artist would then register for an account in order to start receiving royalty payments.”
That nuanced statement from SX, “royalties may be available” is totally at odds with what you literally state in your article. “artists that aren’t even registered”, “thousands of artists not getting paid”. At best this article shows profound ignorance and irresponsibility and at worst it’s a dishonest hit job.
This is going to be long & it is going to sound like I work at SoundExchange (or that my mom does). I don’t and neither does my mom. Regardless of that, check out what I have to say for yourself by clicking on the links I provide to support the assertions.
First, no doubt, SoundExchange should keep the list Paul shared updated if, as some have written here, they’re seeing artists incorrectly listed. If it is out of date & Paul’s article gets SoundExchange re-focused on keeping it updated then this article has done some good because that list was created to be a helpful tool. The reason for it was that SoundExchange understood that by publishing the list of unpaid artists and labels, perhaps someone who knows that artist or label would see it and help get them registered.
Even if it’s the case that the list is out of date, the article – and more so some comments made by Paul – are off base. For example, I’ve no idea what article or study Paul sourced that says Berklee believes that 20-50% of royalties collected go unpaid. It’s also inflammatory to say only that unpaid royalties get distributed to the largest music companies. Unclaimed royalties do get released after a period of time (I believe it is 2 years after the royalties were collected). I think it’s true, however, that they’ve only done 3 such releases in the first 12-13 years the organization has been in existence as they held off on releasing any money for YEARS while continuing to whittle the unpaid balance by finding and registering rightful owners. When unclaimed monies do get released, the unclaimed royalties are used to offset admin fees (as is true of, I believe, every other PRO and helping keep the admin fee lower than any other PRO in our business) with the much, MUCH larger unclaimed balance distributed evenly on a pro-rata share to every registered, collecting artist and label. Also, last I was aware (a couple of years ago) SoundExchange was paying out in excess of 90% of royalties collected with the largest balance of unpaid being attributed to unregistered performers.
I wonder what you think SoundExchange could be doing better to get artists signed up & paid?
They have a board of directors which is 50% artists or artist representatives (http://www.soundexchange.com/about/our-team/board-of-directors/) dedicated to insuring that performing artists, both feature players’ and backing/studio musicians’ interests are protected.
Over the years, they have done matching & outreach initiatives with artist oriented platforms and numerous indie distributors, many of which they’ve announced via the press (and are highlighted at http://www.soundexchange.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Outreach-Fact-Sheet_2.13.151.pdf).
They have staff and board members attend industry conferences (see: http://www.soundexchange.com/) where they often appear on panels preaching what they do & encouraging artists to sign up.
They are active – very active – in policy initiatives affecting artists and labels (http://www.soundexchange.com/advocacy/) and that your manager and business people should be concerned about. If your manager or business people don’t know about SoundExchange or these policy issues it might be that they aren’t qualified to handle your career/business. For while it is fine that a musician might not know because, well, he or she is busy creating, but if someone is making a dime off of that artist’s creation and doesn’t know about an organization that is distributing in excess of $800 million per year, well…that person is a fraud and is stealing that dime from you.
Over the years, SoundExchange has employed all manner of artist managers, consultants, musicians, etc. specifically to do outreach and get artists signed up.
Like other commenters, I know firsthand artists who’ve been alerted to SoundExchange and then didn’t signed up. Why? I wish I knew. You can lead a horse to water but…
To the comment about SoundExchange “not being able to find” artists as an oft-used excuse. I’ll admit that isn’t well articulated if that is what was said. The more detailed explanation is that SoundExchange may very well “find” Ted Nugent, eg., but knowing who Ted Nugent is isn’t the same as getting Nugent registered with the necessary tax id & bank instructions so that payments can legally be made.
SoundExchange isn’t perfect. I’m pushing 50 and waiting to learn of the first perfect organization. I’ve heard about some “WTF moments” over the years too. When they arise, I’d encourage you to try to solve them directly via the staff (http://www.soundexchange.com/about/our-team/) or, if you know someone from their board, contact them. Of course, you can even write about them publicly as Paul has here but, fwiw, I am very confident that if you came to know the SoundExchange team you’d find that they are dedicated to getting artists and labels paid. They have zero incentive to NOT pay out the money, as was alleged. Their board judges the staff/management performance by how much and how well they get money out the door.
Thanks for reading.
Thank you for posting.
Your points are fair and thought provoking. Thank you for reigning in Paul’s fact and figureless boogie man article. This “exposé” is rife with unfounded insinuations and allegations of skulduggery on the part of SoundExchange. Typical DMN loose stool reporting.
So, that time they couldn’t “find” Ted Nugent.
Was he out hunting or something?
These guys are crooks, plain and simple. They are stealing money through complicated structures that confuse then pollute sites like these with misinformation. Sorry you can find the band BOSTON if you try hard enough. DMN, I bet you could find the band in 1 hour.
Whos auditing these guys? Seriously, why no oversight?
Huh? Your grand thesis seems to be that SoundExchange is trying to hide the fact that they have unclaimed royalties so they can horde the money for themselves, but your only evidence is a PUBLIC list on THEIR website ENCOURAGING artists to register to collect unclaimed royalties?
Don’t quit your day job buddy. I don’t think hard hitting investigative journalism is going to be your thing.
Amazing what happens when you lift a rock. I’m just pointing to a list, a publicly available one at that.
SoundExchange publishes this list of artists not getting paid. When asked for further information, SoundExchange confirmed that.
There really aren’t any hard conclusions I can make without being inside the organization, or getting some meaningful response from SoundExchange. What I am doing is suggesting possible problems that may exist within SoundExchange, to explain this huge list I’ve discovered.
So if you want to apologize or defend SE, the go ahead. Say whatever you want, that’s what this comments section is all about (within some limits). But unless you can actually explain, with real information, why there’s a list of 125 major artists not getting paid, I’m not sure you’re going to be taken seriously by this industry.
And please, don’t shoot the messenger.
“unless you can actually explain, with real information, why there’s a list of 125 major artists not getting paid, I’m not sure you’re going to be taken seriously by this industry. “
Holy shit. Am I really witnessing the Pot meeting kettle?
Paul. I don’t know what’s more staggering. The reckless & sensationalist slant of your headlines and articles or your squirmy and deflecting backpedaling in the comment section.
As for “real information” and “being taken seriously in the industry”; forgive me but is it not DMN who proclaims itself as “the authority for people in music with a focus on streaming platforms and artist royalties”? Yet you have the hubris here to boomerang the credibility card toward your audience.
I can accept the fact your tagline is vapid and egocentric. But DMN is no where near being an authoritative and respected NEWS source. Godspeed and praise the Lord for SEO plugins!
Maybe it would be better if they actually published a list of artists they have paid and some actual proof so their claims of artists not signing up could be more believable.
Out of curiosity how long does it usually take for songs/info properly uploaded to their database to actually appear and start functioning?
Sorry, Paul, you’re way off base here. This is akin to those calling iTunes pay out of 70% exploitative. SoundExchange is far, far from perfect but they are paying out huge sums and there has been a feeding frenzy just in the last 3 years as news has spread.
However, it can take a lot of effort to be properly compensated and many just can’t be bothered, as others have pointed out.
The Black Flag entry is pretty ironic : Greg Ginn has been claiming the label’s share outside of his corporate structure.
OK Happy Camper. Why don’t I dig a little deeper, and present more information. Perhaps you’ll change your mind then.
I started a company last year to help artists, and producers get paid. Signing up is the easy part, but still difficult for many people, including attorneys. And then there is sending repertoires with ISRC codes and making sure songs aren’t being paid out to the incorrect rights owner(s). It’s a complicated system and SoundExchange’s outreach isn’t good, no matter how much they try to tell you it’s great. They also discourage third parties. Imagine if ASCAP/BMI and every other source of songwriting royalties, didn’t allow third parties (publishers) to register songs and handle royalties. Artists are busy making music, not filling out excel spreadsheets.
The title of this article is total click bait. It makes it sound like SoundExchange is choosing not to pay them. You have to register. It doesn’t take that much time. If they object to registering than it’s their choice to not collect on the royalties.