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Artists earn digital dollars

Year-end deadline looms for 38,000 unpaid

Musicians can now earn royalties each time their songs are digitally played — but only if they act quickly. A performance rights organization, SoundExchange, is conducting a nationwide search for artists in order to distribute royalties for songs played on satellite radio, the Internet and cable television in the United States.

The 38,000 musicians that SoundExchange is looking for must contact the group by Dec. 31 to collect royalties from the first distribution cycle between 1996 and 2000. Musicians or their heirs who join the organization by the end of the year can collect past and current royalties in the first quarter of 2005.

Unlike other organizations, SoundExchange pays royalties to recording artists for their live recordings, rather than to songwriters.

SoundExchange pays out royalties between $10 and $6,000, depending on a song’s airplay. The non-profit organization has paid its 6,000 members $16 million in royalties since 2000.

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