Music Business

SoundExchange to collect ‘private copy royalties,’ but what are they and are you owed some?

SoundExchange wull take over the collection and distribution of domestic and foreign private copy royalties to more than 500,000 rightsholders.

What are private copy royalties?

Private copy royalties are a patchwork of tarrifs generated by the sales of devices and media like blank CDs as well as personal audio devices, automobile systems, media centers, and satellite radio devices that have music recording capabilities.

In an era where music streaming has replaced ownership, those royalties have been diminishing.

Still more than 500,000 musicians and rightsholders worldwide receive these royalties via the US based non-profit Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC).

The shift to SoundExchange is part of the digital PRO’s multi-year initiative expand its business by using data to streamline systems and increase efficiency across the music industry.

“We are committed to leveraging our best-in-class technology solutions to enhance the music ecosystem,” said Michael Huppe, President & CEO, SoundExchange. “Expanding into private copy royalty collection and distribution is just one step in our mission to make the business of music simpler and more efficient for creators.”

The Transition

SoundExchange plans to begin claiming international PC royalties in late 2021 and domestic PC royalties in February 2022.  

AARC will distribute all available royalties it has collected since 2018 in a final distribution in late 2021 before it ceases operations.

If you are an artist or sound recording copyright owner who has previously received private copy royalties from AARC and your payment or tax information has changed since 2018, please contact AARC at

AARC will accept updated payment and tax information until July 31, 2021.

Bruce Houghton is Founder and Editor of Hypebot and MusicThinkTank and serves as a Senior Advisor to Bandsintown which acquired both publications in 2019. He is Founder and President of the Skyline Artists Agency and an online professor for the Berklee College Of Music.

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