Digital Music Royalty Payments Owed Recording Artists, Musicians & Copyright Owners

The Digital Performance Right in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 (DPRA) and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) mandated the payment of royalties to recording artists, master rights owners (record labels) and independent artists, for use of their work in digital and satellite transmissions.

Royalties are generated from satellite radio play (SIRIUS & XM Radio), internet radio, cable and satellite TV music channels, webcasts and similar platforms which stream digital sound recordings.

Sound Exchange, a non-profit performance rights organization created by Congress, distributes digital performance royalties for over 3,500 record companies and their 6000 labels. SoundExchange is required by law to collect these royalties on behalf of artists and copyright holders, but thousands of recording artists and rights owners have left millions of dollars unclaimed.

To date, SoundExchange has distributed about $360 million to more than 45,000 artists and copyright holders. At any given time, however, about a third of the money – $111 million in 2010 – collected from online music services – including XM Radio – isn’t distributed, because the artists can’t be located. With the increasing popularity of Internet radio, the unclaimed cash is expected to grow dramatically.

NoteThe National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) and YouTube reached agreement to distribute royalties for musical works used in videos on YouTube where ownership was previously unknown. As a result, millions of dollars in previously unclaimed non-performance royalties will be paid to publishers and songwriters starting in 2017.

If you’re a recording artist or own rights to recordings that may have been distributed via satellite radio, internet radio, satellite or cable television, complete the form below to initiate a search.