According to the two organizations, it was the largest distribution in the history of the unions’ Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. Executives noted that the funds are being distributed at a time of turmoil for the music business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is great news at such a difficult time for musicians. This fund provides for session players who live gig to gig, and there has never been a greater need for royalty income than right now, with the extensive cancellation of live performances,” said AFM International President Ray Hair.
Over 42,000 participants will be receiving payment with an average payment of approximately $1,500. The fund distributed $60 million in royalties in 2019 and over $430 million since it was created in 2008.
SAG-AFTRA’s chief operating officer and general counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said, “The music industry has been massively impacted by COVID-19, and no one more so than performers whose touring work has been halted and whose recordings are mostly cancelled. We’re proud of the Fund’s commitment and diligence in ensuring that the distribution of royalties will reach tens of thousands of performers at a time when that financial security is needed more than ever.”
The Fund distributes domestic royalties required to be paid from non-interactive digital streaming providers like Pandora and Sirius XM to non-featured performers (session vocalists and musicians) along with royalties from various foreign performance rights organizations to U.S. non-featured artists.
“I am incredibly proud of our staff, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this distribution went out on schedule to the performers who so greatly need it during these difficult economic times,” said Stefanie Taub, CEO of the fund. “Their dedication to the mission of the Fund and its participants is unparalleled.”
Hair and Crabtree-Ireland added that the fund makes “every effort” to contact all artists who may have earned royalties, but there is insufficient information to process payments for some performers.