Washington – SoundExchange, the entity that collects and
distributes royalties from streaming music services, is holding at least $200
million in royalties owed to artists, according to a review of the agency’s tax
returns — but says just around $39 million of the sum is owed to artists it has
so far failed to locate, Wired.com reports.
The $200 million in unpaid
royalties was uncovered by Digital Music News.
In explaining the figure to
Wired.com, SoundExchange spokeswoman Laura Williams said that 50% represented
recently paid fees scheduled to be paid to artists in a few months; 11% was
tied up awaiting court rulings on issues like ephemeral rates; 5% was due to
foreign performing rights organizations that had not yet been claimed; 10% was
associated with services that provided no playlist data; and 5% was tied to
royalties with incomplete or bad data.
"Obviously, the $39 million number
is still far too high, and we’re doing everything we can think of to help
reduce it," Williams told Wired.com.
"Our direct notification
programs, including those through those social media and online music tools
matches, have notified more than 34,000 artists in the past six months,
representing over half of the total money which is unclaimed.
"Of those, only
about five percent have registered so far — even [among] those who [have been]
contacted six-plus times, that ratio doesn’t go up."