SoundExchange Takes Aim At Uneducated Writers And “Very, Very Low” Rates
During a webinar last week, digital performing rights organization SoundExchange answered questions ranging from criticisms of undistributed funds to why some payment checks were so small. During the session, articles critical of SoundExchange were dubbed as "written by people who didn’t understand the numbers they were looking at" by the organization.
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"We’re a nonprofit – we can’t keep the money or anything," said a spokesperson during the webcast. "Every collection society has a large bank balance, but SoundExchange is unique in that we publicly report that balance, and we don’t clear our books at the end of the year by redistributing what’s not claimed."
As for the small checks, unfair statutory are to blame, according to SoundExchange: "The rates paid by most services, particularly webcasters and internet radio, are very, very, low," siting rates for pureplay webcasters like Panodra and Slacker that are currently about half of those paid by commercial broadcasters like Clear Channel. "It definitely adds up, but we won’t see artists making a fortune on this revenue any time soon."
SoundExchange royalties come from more than 1,400 services. Grooveshark was singled out as currently paying no royalties to its members.
Regular Hypebot readers know that I've been impressed by SoundExchange's recent efforts to educate musicians and distribute royalties. But continuing to point fingers – whether at journalists or net radio broadcasters – does not serve SoundExchange, its members or the new music industry well.
Lobbying for fair royalties is core to their mission, but fair does not automatically mean higher. For many ot the artists that SoundExchange serves, internet radio and many of those same journalists, offer exposure that commercial channels never have. What is truly "fair" in this emerging sector is still to be determined.
As an organization born in the digital age, SoundExchange has a unique opportunity to bring stakeholders together rather than to place blame. – Bruce Houghton