The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), a national union of more than 70,000 performers, recording artists and broadcast journalists, and SoundExchange, a non-profit U.S. digital performance rights organization authorized to collect royalties for the digital performance of sound recordings, today announced a new joint initiative to identify and distribute SoundExchange royalties which are owed to AFTRA member recording artists.
Starting today (5/2) AFTRA will begin notifying more than 6,000 AFTRA recordings artists for whom SoundExchange has collected royalties from digital services that have streamed their recordings online. SoundExchange provided AFTRA with a list of artists who are members of the union, but who are not yet registered with SoundExchange. AFTRA will mail letters, send email notices and make direct person-to-person phone calls to all AFTRA member recording artists who are due royalties. As a union representing recording artists, AFTRA is in the unique position to have contact information for many recording artists, and was glad to be a part of the project.
“Increasingly, our world is evolving into the digital age,” said AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “This means more opportunities for AFTRA recording artists to share their creative contributions with a wider audience and more opportunities for our members to earn the income they need, such as the royalties collected by SoundExchange, to sustain their careers, support their families and continue enriching our culture and society through their gift of music. As AFTRA’s National Executive Director and as a board member of SoundExchange, I am very pleased to partner with SoundExchange to identify, to locate and pay AFTRA members their share of the tremendously profitable digital revolution.”
“SoundExchange is constantly reaching out to notify artists about their unclaimed royalties, yet it can be difficult to get them to register,” said SoundExchange Executive Director John Simson. “Many don’t know about the law that entitled them to these royalties, or believe it’s too good to be true. That’s why partners like AFTRA are essential: they understand the value of our work and have existing relationships with those artists who can most benefit from registering. AFTRA is a great resource to artists, and hearing about SoundExchange from such a trusted organization helps reassure artists that these royalties are both real and theirs.”
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 $412 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 recording artists and ensure the distribution of these payments.
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 Board member, though not as a union representative.
Recording artists may register with SoundExchange, free of charge, to receive royalties. New registrants can claim any back royalties collected in their names and they will continue to be paid quarterly, every time they’re owed. For more information on registration, please visit www.soundexchange.com.S