Sound Exchange

The digital music era is here.  Artists and listeners alike have as much to love about it as they do to be concerned since digital music continually grows.  Digital music is an easy way to have access to your favorite songs and entertainers.  There are now many legitimate digital music servers that allow consumers to buy and access music through subscriptions or websites that support services through advertisements.  A quarter of music industry revenue is now coming through digital channels, mobile services, subscriptions, and sites streaming download stores.   more info.  This goes to show as time has gone on digital music has become the preferred method of access to the music industry.

On the other hand, digital music piracy and free music sites  still pose a concern  for growth within the industry.  The good news is that there are constantly new services, sites, and organizations that are being created to protect an artist’s or label’s music so that they are receiving the royalties and recognition they deserve when their music is reaching audiences digitally.

Sound Exchange is one of the top organizations  whose  purpose and goal is to protect artist’s  music that is released digitally.   SoundExchange is a performance rights organization that collects royalties for performers whose songs are played on satellite radio, internet radio, and for TV music channels that stream sound recordings.  It is the only non-profit entity in the United States that distributes royalties to artists and record labels from digital recordings.  No other performance rights organizations are providing this valuable service.

Before 1995, the United States did not recognize the rights of artists or labels royalties for their songs that were being played as digital recordings.  Because of this many songs would be played over the internet or in some other medium and the artists or labels  would not be given credit or monies regardless of the fact that they owned the artistic work.  The Digital Performance in Sound Recordings Act of 1995 and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 granted certain rights to artists and labels whose music was being played through digital transmissions.  These acts  now  require that the owner of copyrighted material be paid certain royalties.  In 2003, the U.S. Copyright Office designated SoundExchange as the sole administrator of these licensing fees.  SoundExchange now has the exclusive responsibility of insuring that copyright owners and performers are appropriately compensated for their music that is played through various digital mediums. rights granted

SoundExchange models itself after  other performing rights organizations that have been essential to artists  such as ASCAP( American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.), or SESAC (Society of European Stage Authors and Composers).  The benefit of SoundExchange that these other organizations do not have is that it protects artists strictly within the digital music arena which is so important in modern times.  SoundExchange covers the protection of performance rights by looking extensively at play logs.  The songs are matched to the database and then the artists and labels are paid exactly what they earned based upon how many times the song was played.

SoundExchange administers compulsory licenses for sound recordings that are played through certain digital and satellite transmissions.  SoundExchange does not include downloaded music in its coverage because a download falls within the realm of reproduction rights in sound recordings and must be licensed directly from the artist or recording company.

Musicians deserve proper recognition for their work and SoundExchange is one important tool in making sure that protection continues to happen and grow in this age of digital music.

By Angelica Campanaro, summer intern at Arther Law


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