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AFTRA and SoundExchange Tell Artists: Claim Your Digital Royalties

Posted September 15, 2011

Orgs. notify 6,126 AFTRA members about money waiting for them at SoundExchange

LOS ANGELES (Sept. 15, 2011) --- The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, a national union of more than 70,000 recording artists, broadcast professionals and other performers, and SoundExchange, the nonprofit tasked by Congress with distributing royalties for the streaming of sound recordings, have teamed up to identify and register 6,126 AFTRA members who haven’t claimed their SoundExchange royalties.

The 6,126 AFTRA member artists are owed a cumulative $3.6 million in back royalties which have been collected on their behalf by SoundExchange for digital streaming of their recordings. But without current contact information, SoundExchange can’t send out the checks. AFTRA and SoundExchange compared databases to identify artists who are AFTRA members, but who haven’t yet claimed their funds from SoundExchange. Those artists will be receiving mailed letters and email messages alerting them to the waiting money and directing them to SoundExchange’s simple (and FREE) registration form.

“With more and more people choosing to experience music and other recordings online and through digital transmissions, SoundExchange royalties have become an increasingly important revenue stream for AFTRA members, including both recording artists and actors whose commercially released voiceover recordings are also streamed digitally,” said Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA National Executive Director. “We’re pleased to assist SoundExchange in registering AFTRA members who are eligible to receive royalties.”

“SoundExchange is constantly reaching out to notify artists about their unclaimed royalties,” said SoundExchange President Michael Huppe. “When we send out emails, make phone calls, even talk to people one-on-one at conferences, the promise of new royalties can sound too good to be true, and too often, they don’t register. But when an organization artists know and trust, like AFTRA, helps us spread the word to their members who could also be receiving SoundExchange royalties, artists take notice, and are more likely to take action, too. AFTRA and SoundExchange share the goal of protecting artists’ rights to their work, and to compensation when that work is used. Our ongoing partnership is helping to advance both of those goals.”

When sound recordings are played on satellite radio, Internet radio or digital cable services, SoundExchange collects a royalty on behalf of the recording artists and the copyright holder, as directed under U.S. Copyright Law. Since 2001, SoundExchange has collected and processed billions of spins and paid out more than $720 million in digital royalties. Unfortunately, thousands of music professionals are not yet registered, and millions of dollars in royalties are currently unclaimed. AFTRA and SoundExchange have partnered to locate unregistered AFTRA members and ensure the distribution of these payments.

Any artist whose recordings are played can earn and claim royalties through SoundExchange for free, regardless of union status.

AFTRA is represented by Hedgpeth on the SoundExchange Board of Directors which consists of equal representation between artists’ representatives and label representatives. Legendary recording artist and AFTRA member Martha Reeves also serves as a SoundExchange Board member.

Artists and owners of master recordings may register with SoundExchange, free of charge, to receive royalties when their tracks are streamed on digital services, including online. For more information on registration, please visit www.soundexchange.com or call SoundExchange’s team at 202.524.7839.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL-CIO, are the people who entertain and inform America. In 32 Locals across the country, AFTRA members work as actors, broadcasters, singers, dancers, announcers, hosts, comedians, disc jockeys and other performers across the media industries including television, radio, cable, sound recordings, music videos, commercials, audio books, non-broadcast industrials, interactive games, the Internet and other digital media. The 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters and recording artists of AFTRA are working together to protect and improve their jobs, lives and communities in the 21st century. From new art forms to new technology, AFTRA members embrace change in their work and craft to enhance American culture and society. Visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.

About SoundExchange
SoundExchange is the non-profit performance rights organization that collects statutory royalties from satellite radio, internet radio, cable TV music channels and other services that stream sound recordings. The Copyright Royalty Board, which was created Congress, has entrusted SoundExchange as the only entity in the United States to collect and distribute these digital performance royalties for featured recording artists and master rights owners (often record labels). SoundExchange has paid out more than $720 million in royalties since its creation in 2003. Performers and copyright holders can get their share for free by registering at www.soundexchange.com.

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