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Digital Royalty Distributions Top $252 Million

SoundExchange says several trends drive increase, including growth of streaming services

Royalty payments to artists and copyright holders from digital streaming services continue to rise.

SoundExchange said such payments topped $252 million in 2010. The figure brings SoundExchange’s overall distributions in its first decade to more than $600 million.

When compared to the prior year, the average payment for artists was up 80% (to $2,800); for rights holders it was up 39% (to more than $14,000).

SoundExchange collects royalties from webcasting, satellite radio, television music channels and similar streaming platforms. The Copyright Royalty Board, appointed by the U.S. Library of Congress, selected SoundExchange as the sole entity in the U.S. to collect and distribute digital performance royalties on behalf of recording artists, master rights owners and independent artists who record and own their masters.

According to President Michael Huppe, the royalty pay-out increases reflect several trends: the success and growth of streaming services; increased awareness among artists and copyright holders of the need to register with SoundExchange to claim royalty payments; and improved processing of previously unpayable balances through data clean-up. New registrants are still able to collect several years of back royalties, often resulting in large first-time payouts.

Huppe also pointed to the rising subscribership of digital music services like Pandora and Sirius XM as a source of increasing revenues.