If the RIAA-formed
SoundExchange cannot locate the artists [see a partial list on the right]
by December 15, 2006, all the performance royalties collected from 1996
to 2000 on the artists' behalf will be forfeited and SoundExchange gets
to keep them. Songwriters and musicians get royalties when their music is
played in public, on the radio or in clubs. With the advent of Internet
radio and digital cable broadcasts, performers are also entitled to royalties.
SoundExchange collects these. Read this article by lawyer Fred Wilhelms.
is the sole entity that collects and distributes license fees
for digital distribution of recordings; primarily satellite radio
services and Internet streaming broadcasts (but NOT downloads).
Over the years they have collected money for thousands of artists
who don't know about it.
ago, John Simson, the Executive Director of SoundExchange, asked
for my help in finding these people. I work primarily with veteran
artists and have proven pretty proficient at finding people. Despite
my constant prodding, SoundExchange never put me to work, and
I finally washed my hands of the project when John told me he
could give me the list of "unfound" artists, but only if I agreed
to a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In essence, I could find out who
they had money for, I just couldn't tell anyone they were on the
to the money they can't pay because they can't find the person
TO KEEP IT themselves [Ed: Emphasis ours]. Nothing succeeds
In my email
this morning was the following note from Simson:
your concern on this issue I wanted to notify you that,
after SoundExchange Board approval, we have posted a list
of all performers who are owed royalties from the period
February 1, 1996 to March 31, 2000 and which are subject
to release under Copyright Office regulations regarding
list is on the website. Please call me if you have any questions
or any ideas regarding our continuing efforts to locate
in advance for any assistance in locating addresses or other
contact information for any of the performers on this list.
you for the note.
already seen the list on your website. This is truly a prime
example of "too little, too late." I understand why SoundExchange
waited so long to publicize the list. It is, or at least
it should be, a major embarrassment to the organization,
and to everyone who has publicly said what a good job the
organization has done finding people.
my comments sound harsh to you, they should. You and I know
how SoundExchange has failed to keep its promise, and how
much more could have been done to prevent this injustice,
and I just cannot put a positive spin on this.
the first two hours after I had the list, and even before
I had gotten completely through the "A" entries, I found
five people you and your staff were not able to find in
six years. And just so I'm clear on this, these were people
I did not know when I started the search. At most, it took
three telephone calls to find a current contact and pass
on the information about registration. I actually came up
with one by checking Directory Assistance in his hometown.
there is no way I can spend the time necessary before the
deadline to do everything I could to see that SoundExchange
does the job it was given. There are just too many people
on your "unfound" list, and I have clients who need my immediate
attention. All I can do is reach out to as many people as
possible in the limited time left and hope that my efforts
start a landslide that swamps your office before December
be wrong, but I suspect that, with the publication of the
list, SoundExchange has abandoned any proactive efforts
to locate the "unfound." I hope, for your sake, that after
the deadline, you never hear one story about an artist being
unable to afford a prescription, or getting evicted, and
then you discover they were on the forfeited list. That
prospect haunted me during my AFTRA days, and it still bothers
me that I didn't do enough to prevent it from happening
over and over again.
wish there was some penalty that SoundExchange would have
to pay for not finding people. Instead, the organization
profits from its own failure by getting to keep the money
it should be paying out.
a disgrace. Every time you deposit your paycheck, or get
a bonus, or give one to someone else for a "job well done,"
or even expense a lunch, some of that money is coming from
artists who never knew it was there because SoundExchange
didn't find them in time.
the search was not easy, and that there was really no possibility
you were going to find everyone, or even almost everyone.
You and I know, however, that SoundExchange didn't do all
that it could to cut that list to size. I think you are
a good enough man to realize the scope of this failure,
and I hope that it eventually impels you to do whatever
it takes to make SoundExchange responsive to those it is
supposed to serve. Today, for artists, the organization
is nowhere close to meeting that goal.
list of the people they can't find:
circulating the following message. Feel free to forward it to
any mailing lists, message boards and telephone poles in your
URGENT MESSAGE TO RECORDING ARTISTS
is the entity that collects and distributes broadcast royalties
from digital distribution of music. This includes streaming
Internet broadcasts (not downloads) and satellite radio
services. These royalties have been payable since February
1, 1996. If your music has been played on the Internet since
that date, you are entitled to a share of the royalties.
December 15, 2006, any royalties that are unclaimed for
performances up through March 31, 2000 WILL BE FORFEITED.
you, as an individual or as a member of a recording group,
are not registered with SoundExchange by December 15, 2006,
you will lose all rights to your royalties earned before
March 31, 2000.
are thousands of identified artists who will lose these
royalties unless they act before the deadline. SoundExchange
has listed these "unfound" artists on their website.
the time to read the list. If you are on it, follow the
instructions for filing a claim. It costs you nothing and
it does not take much time. If you register now, you will
receive the unclaimed royalties and will receive future
and families of recording artists should also check the
list. If you know anyone on there, PLEASE LET THEM KNOW
IMMEDIATELY. You will note that there are a number of deceased
performers on the list. If you know any surviving relatives,
let them know about this.
money belongs in the hands of the artists who created the
Note: Fred Wilhelms is a lawyer who represents musicians and songwriters.
He can be reached at: email@example.com.
Please be patient while downloading the Unpaid Artist List.
It may take some time.
more... email firstname.lastname@example.org
with the message, "Put me on your mailing list."
Can't Find Them:
A Flock Of
3 Mustaphas 3
A Flock Of Seagulls
Above The Law
Ali Farka Toure
Amazing Rhythm Aces
Archers Of Loaf
Bobby Blue Bland
Booker T And The MG's
Brand New Heavies
Chairmen Of The Board
Rocket From The Crypt
Jack Wild & Mark Lester
The Flaming Lips