Over $2 Million Uncollected by TuneCore Artists – Get It Now!


Jacqueline Rosokoff is a member of the TuneCore Artist Support Team. Jacqueline also a member of Doctor Uke & Daughters.


Your music may be bringing in money you’re unaware of. If your songs are streamed on satellite, internet, or cable radio stations, it is required by law that you receive royalties. Don’t worry if this is the first you’re hearing of this law⎯ money previously earned is still safe and waiting to be collected. Read on to find out how to get it.

If your recordings have been played on “non-terrestrial based radio,” which refers to satellite radio stations (like Sirius- XM), internet radio (like Pandora), or via your cable provider, U.S. federal law requires that you receive streaming royalties. If it’s your song, or your voice, or your instrumental on the recording, it’s your money.

SoundExchange, a non-profit organization, administered by a board of artists and label representatives, was appointed by the Library of Congress to collect and distribute these royalties to artists like you. It is free to register with SoundExchange to collect your past or future royalties. There are no strings or catches. We promise.

The federal law, introduced in 1998, requires that the payments from streaming be split in three ways: 50% is paid to the copyright holder, the individual or group who owns the rights to the recording. 45% goes to the featured artist, or individual or band who recorded the track. The remaining 5% goes into a fund supporting backup singers and session musicians. So following these guidelines, an artist who wrote the song and recorded it would receive 95% of the money collected from the qualifying radio play.

To monitor and collect this money, the music streaming companies provide detailed electronic play logs which are matched to individual recordings allowing SoundExchange to pay out exactly what is earned. As soon as you sign up online, you can collect royalties you’ve earned dating back to the beginning of collections in 1996. We did a database match of TuneCore Artists with SoundExchange and discovered that TuneCore artists have around $2 million in unclaimed royalties.

Just to clarify, plays from sites like YouTube or MySpace do not fall under the umbrella of this law, because on these sites listeners can select the specific tracks they wish to stream. The law also excludes radio play on the AM/FM “terrestrial” stations. Terrestrial radio stations broadcast music out over airwaves, not over the internet, cable, or a satellite.

In order to collect your money you need to sign up for free with SoundExchange. Once you’re registered, they will pay out any money that your music has earned. In 2009, SoundExchange paid $149.5 million in streaming royalties, and since its inception in 2003, the organization has paid out over $361 million. SoundExchange is not in the category of traditional Performance Rights Organizations (sometimes called “PRO”), like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, as these organizations protect the rights of the songwriter and publisher. As specified by the law, SoundExchange collects royalties for the performer and the copyright holder of the recording.

Again, TuneCore artists have received around $2 million from non-terrestrial based airplay. To get registered with SoundExchange to discover if they have your money, go to soundexchange.com, register online or print and mail the forms, and you will be set up to receive all of the royalties you’re owed. Make sure you collect the money that you as an artist are entitled to.

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  • Don

    Thanks so much, Jacqueline ! (and Tunecore ! )

  • http://www.tunecore.com/richardbaumgardt Richard Baumgardt

    Awesome article. Thanks for the info! Tunecore you rock.
    Richard Baumgardt
    http://www.soundclick.com/richardbaumgardt

  • http://profile.typepad.com/jeremygadd Jeremy Gadd

    Great article. I wasn’t aware of this but I live in the UK. What is the situation with UK law on this?

  • Rocker

    Are these royalties not collected by the usual collection societies in the US? ie: BMI, ASCAP etc? And is the 50% to the copyright holder split between mechanical and performance royalties and to what %?
    How does this apply to non US residents/bands/copyright holders?

  • http://www.reverbnation.com/andreamatchett Andrea

    Question: Should I sign up if I’ve got an account on ReverbNation over which music can be streamed depending on genre? It’s randomized, and I imagine I’ve gotten a few plays for my songs “Boom” or “Grind Up On Me”…
    Thank you so much for your article! Hope to hear back from you soon!

  • http://rockingnikki.com Yana

    Thank you very much for the information.
    Is it gonna be a conflict between SoundExchange and BMI if the Artist is a cowriter and catalog is registered with BMI but not the Artist itself?
    Thank you,
    Yana & Rocking Nikki.

  • http://www.soundexchange.com Laura Williams – SoundExchange

    Yana – There is no conflict at all between the traditional PROs (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) and SoundExchange. Artists can and should be registered with both.
    Andrea – Yes!
    Rocker – it’s an entirely different copyright. Traditional PROs collect for the songwriter and the publisher, based on the copyright of the musical composition (notes and lyrics on a page). SoundExchange collects for recording artists and copyright holders/master owners of the sound recording itself. So if “Respect” is played on internet radio, ASCAP pays Otis Redding, who wrote the song, and SoundExchange pays Aretha Franklin.
    50% split is between artist and copyright holder. Independent artists keep 95%, and 5% goes to the raroyalties.org fund to pay backup singers and session players.
    Rocker and Jeremy Gald – for non-US artists and labels, check here: Non-US artists: how to get royalties from SX. Performance rights are protected in every industrialized country, in many cases better than in the US. For more on the fight to correct the injustice, check out http://www.musicFIRSTcoalition.org.

  • http://www.soundexchange.com Laura Williams – SoundExchange

    Live link, repost:
    Non-US artists: how to get royalties from SX: http://soundexchange.com/2010/01/25/non-us-artists-how-to-get-royalties-from-sx/

  • http://www.zoekeating.com Zoe Keating

    I’m very curious to see if it adds up to anything. Just be prepared to wait….I have tracks in the PLAYS database and signed up with SoundExchange in December. I haven’t seen anything yet but I got an email saying it takes them 120 days (i.e. 4 months) to process a new registration.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/rosadz Rosadz

    so why doesn’t tunecore distribute the money? Can’t I just do all this with tunecore and not worry about yet reading through another terms of service to make sure i’m not getting jacked? I was going to put my songs on Tunecore but now i might not knowing that soundexchange has a different control over the royalties..

  • kefah

    so how can get paid after i have put my songs on the site?

  • RSB

    went to the site and it’s down but the registration is up and asks for tax forms and bank information. What’s up with that?

  • http://www.soundexchange.com Laura Williams – SoundExchange

    SoundExchange is an independently-audited non-profit with a Congressional mandate, so we have to be careful with our accounting. Also, royalties are taxable income, so yes, you’ll have to file a W-9 so Uncle Sam gets his share withheld (just like if you started a freelance job). As for bank info, that’s for direct deposit, which we encourage because it’s environmentally friendly, but we don’t require it. We can send a check. It’s a little bit of paperwork, but hey, a small price to pay when somebody’s trying to give you money you’ve already earned, right?

  • http://www.learnandcooklowcarb.com/ Soundclick Instrumentals

     Create an Account

    The first step is to log onto SoundClick’s website. You will want to register an account with SoundClick. Set up your username and password. You will want to create a name for your artist/band/music production company.