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WTF: SoundExchange Holding More Than $200 Million In Royalties While Musicians Starve…

Digital Music News:
At SXSW recently, SoundExchange was trying to match $1 million in unpaid artist royalties. But the non-profit is holding an unpaid royalty account of more than $200 million, according to documents obtained by Digital Music News and information shared directly by the company. And, given the growth arcs, the amount may be quite a lot more….

The number has been skyrocketing year-over-year, highlighting the problems this organization is facing locating performing artists. At the end of 2007, the outstanding ‘fund balance’ was roughly $192.7 million, and at the end of 2006, $96.7 million, also according to the filings….

But more than $200 million sitting there, undistributed? This sounds like a monstrous number, and one that should be drawing some scrutiny. One attorney reviewing the situation noted that “any non-profit carrying more than $200 million on its books has a serious problem,” and indeed, it remains unclear if such a massive logjam can be adequately resolved and paid out.

SoundExchange is a non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), internet radio, cable TV music channels and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which is appointed by The U.S. Library of Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the sole entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties on behalf of featured recording artists, master rights owners (like record labels), and independent artists who record and own their masters.