SoundExchange hits royalty milestone

Org's quarterly payments top $100 million

Indicating continuing growth in the online and subscription radio sector, SoundExchange announced Monday that in the first three months of 2012, its quarterly digital music royalty payments topped $100 million for the first time since its inception.

The performing rights org has distributed more than $1 billion in royalties to date.

SoundExchange was founded in 2000 as a division of the RIAA and spun off as a non-profit organization in 2003. It collects and distributes royalties to performers and labels from non-interactive digital music services, including satellite, Internet and cable radio.

According to figures released in March by the RIAA, digital performance royalties rose 17% last year to $292 million; that figure included SoundExchange payments (Daily Variety, March 28).

“This milestone reflects the fact that the digital music industry is evolving and will continue to grow,” SoundExchange prexy Michael Huppe said in a statement. “We’re optimistic about where the music industry is headed and see opportunity for SoundExchange to help both creators and digital music services thrive.”

Fiscal landmark comes even as resistance to SoundExchange distributions has materialized. In March, satellite radio giant Sirius, which has attempted to secure direct licenses from labels, lodged a federal antitrust suit against the org.

Early this month, terrestrial giant Clear Channel signed an unprecedented pact with Nashville-based Big Machine – home of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Rascal Flatts – to pay a share of broadcast and digital revenues directly to the label (Daily Variety, June 6).