What is SoundExchange doing with the money?

SoundExchangeSince we’ve been talking about SoundExchange so much lately I thought I’d call this to your attention. SoundExchange, for those that don’t know, is the entity that collects performance royalty money on every song played via a digital transmission such as digital cable and satellite tv, satellite radio, and internet radio. This money is collected on behalf of the Sound Recording Copyright Owner (the label), the featured artist (the artist whose name is on the CD), and the non-featured artists (the sidemen/studio musicians). It doesn’t matter if any of these people have registered or not, SoundExchange still collects the money. If these people aren’t registered, SE hangs on to the money for a period of three years and then simply pockets the cash.

SoundExchange has been in the news recently because of the coming (July 15, 2007) increase in royalties on internet radio stations.

One might wonder how these royalties get to the right people. From what I can tell by looking at their site, the burden is entirely on the artists and labels to register, or forgo the royalties collected on their behalf.

In order to be paid by SoundExchange, you must provide the proper payee information.

I understand that some artists would be difficult to track down, but it seems like SoundExchange could at least make a good faith effort to find people for whom they are collecting money. They obviously don’t though. To prove that point I’ll link to Exhibit A, the Unpaid Artist List, which includes such bluegrass notables as Bobby Osborne, The Bluegrass Patriots, Bob Paisley and Southern Grass, Boone Creek, and Buddy Spicher. And all I looked at were the Bs. If you’re an artist, you might want to check that list.

Note to SoundExchange: It sure didn’t take long to find those artists’ links with Google. And they all have contact links readily available.

  • ryanfbaker

    Okay so I went through the list (bored) and found all the bluegrass-related folks I recognized. Active artists (as far as I know) are in bold.

    Big Country Bluegrass
    Bluegrass Patriots
    Bluegrass Ramblers
    Bluegrass Reunion
    Bob Paisley and Southern Grass
    Bobby Osborne
    Boone Creek
    Buddy Spicher
    Carl Story
    Cedar Grove Bluegrass Band
    Charlie Louvin
    Chubby Wise
    Don Reno
    Gene Wooten
    Goins Brothers
    Grandpa Jones
    Harley Allen
    Herschel Sizemore
    Hylo Brown
    James King
    Jamie Hartford
    Jim and Jesse
    Jim Eanes
    Josh Graves
    Josh Williams and High Gear
    Kasey Chambers
    Kentucky Colonels
    Kathy Kallick Band
    McCoury Brothers
    Mollie O’Brien
    Mother Maybelle Carter
    Parmley and McCoury (misspelled McCourty)
    Ralph Stanley II
    Red Allen
    Red Clay Ramblers
    Roland White Band
    Stanley Gospel Tradition / Stanley Tradition (what is this?)
    Stonemans (I assume its our Stonemans)
    Strength In Numbers
    Tara Nevins
    The Lonesome River Band (some members have registered)
    Third Tyme Out
    Valerie Smith
    Victor Wooten (Not bluegrass, but he’s in the scene)
    Wilburn Brothers

    Other notable inclusions (notable according to my music tastes :-))

    SIR MIX-A-LOT (!)
    SKEE-LO (!)

  • ryanfbaker

    Man, I just spent like a half hour going through that site and making a list of bluegrass-related artists, and the comment didn’t seem to make it into the system! D***.

    A few notables I remember offhand who are currently still around:

    Jamie Hartford
    Tara Nevins
    McCoury Brothers
    Roland White

  • Ryan,

    I found your lost comment. It got help up as spam for some reason. I cleared it and it’s now visible.

    WOW! What a list. You had some time on your hands. 🙂

    That Stanley Gospel Tradition CD you questioned was produced by Tim Austin of Doobie Shea Records as a follow up to the highly popular Stanley Tradition CD.

  • Jon Weisberger

    I understand that some artists would be difficult to track down, but it seems like SoundExchange could at least make a good faith effort to find people for whom they are collecting money. They obviously don‚Äôt though. To prove that point I‚Äôll link to Exhibit A, the Unpaid Artist List…

    It is not unreasonable to see the publishing and publicizing of such a list as a good faith effort to find people for whom they are collecting money. The fact is that there are tens of thousands of albums released each year, and for SoundExchange to take the initiative in tracking the relevant information on each one, a considerable investment in resources would be needed – an investment that would have to come out of the royalties it collects, to the detriment of those for whom they’re collected. Similarly, PROs do not proactively acquire information on songs written by their members; they instead require those members to register their songs, providing information that the PROs then use to track performances and assign royalties.

    It is, at the very least, not unreasonable for SoundExchange to encourage those participating in recordings to register their information rather than make such an investment.