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Today the non-profit digital performance rights organization SoundExchange announced it has paid out more than $1 billion in digital royalties to artists and labels since its inception in 2003. SoundExchange collects royalties from streaming music providers—including Sirius XM, Pandora and those channels way at the back of your cable lineup that only play music—and passes them along to artists, both signed and unsigned.
“This milestone reflects the fact that the digital music industry is evolving and will continue to grow,” said SoundExchange president Michael Huppe in a statement. “We’re optimistic about where the music industry is headed and see opportunity for SoundExchange to help both creators and digital music services thrive.”
Of the billion dollars paid out by SoundExchange over the past decade, more than one-tenth has been distributed in recent months. The organization doled out a total of $108.6 million in royalties during the first quarter of 2012, marking the first time distributions exceeded $100 million in a single quarter. SoundExchange cites enhanced data management and improved technology platforms for the change.
The U.S. Copyright Office has designated SoundExchange the sole administrative entity for collecting digital royalties, but not everyone knows that yet. Tens of millions of dollars in digital royalties still sit unclaimed, despite the organization’s best efforts to contact artists. “They think we’re a Nigerian email scam,” a spokesperson once said.
Any musician or copyright holder can sign up for SoundExchange. Anyone hoping to receive royalties must send in a W-8 or W-9 form and government-issued identification. All of this can be done via email, snail mail, or fax (more info here).