More than 50,000 musicians have money waiting unclaimed

Joaquin Phoenix recorded the soundtrack for the movie "Walk the Line."
(Suzanne Tenner)

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SoundExchange, a nonprofit group that collects digital music royalties on behalf of artists, on Wednesday said that around 50,000 musicians have unclaimed money with the group totaling more than $31 million. The amounts range from $10 to $100,000 per artist or label, the group said.

Those who want to see if a check is waiting for them should visit SoundExchange and check the database.

Among the names listed are Mark Wahlberg’s hip-hop band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, The Smith Westerns and Joaquin Phoenix. It’s not just musicians who have money waiting for them. Sinbad, whose spoken word albums have been part of an increasingly popular comedy genre for Internet radio shows, is also on the list.


Created in 2000, SoundExchange collects performance royalties from digital radio companies offered by services such as Pandora, Clear Channel Communications’ iHeartRadio and SiriusXM’s satellite radio. Traditional AM and FM radio broadcasters are currently exempt from having to pay performance royalties, though artists and digital music companies are lobbying hard to change that.

The sums collected from online, cable and satellite radio are nothing to sneeze at. More than $1 billion has been paid out to artists and record labels over the years, the group announced in June.

The amount keeps going up as the number of Internet radio listeners continues to grow and as SoundExchange succeeds in recruiting more artists to come pick up their royalty checks. In the first quarter of this year, it paid out $108.6 million, the first time SoundExchange exceeded $100 million in payments in a three-month period.



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