September 29, 2006

“Incentives To Create” — Riiight [12:15 pm]

Too bad they can’t deliver the checks to unknowns like T-Bone Burnett or the Morman Tabernacle Choir: Digital Music Royalty Checks Languish - pdf

The organization created by the recording industry to collect and distribute Internet and satellite radio royalties can’t seem to find these and other artists to whom it owes checks.

Washington-based SoundExchange released a list of 9,000 recording artists with unclaimed royalties in what it described as a last-ditch effort to distribute $500,000 worth of checks to the musicians for digital broadcasts dating from the late ’90s. And the clock is ticking: The artists forfeit the money to SoundExchange if they don’t claim it by Dec. 15.

The release of the list of unpaid artists has become the butt of jokes on industry Internet forums. And the disclosure comes at an inconvenient time for SoundExchange, which is arguing before the Library of Congress that it should remain the exclusive distributor of digital performance royalties that amount to millions of dollars a year.

“It says obviously how well they do their job — which is not well at all,” said Fred Wilhelms, a Nashville lawyer who helps performers and songwriters collect back royalties. “How do you not find the Olsen twins? All you’ve got to do is get off a bus in Salt Lake City and you’ll find the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”

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