SoundExchange, the company responsible for collecting royalties from songs streamed on the Internet, satellite radio, and cable television (?), is reporting that it handed out $155 million in royalties to artists in 2009 and has collected $260 million that they hope to distribute to artists in 2010. That's up from $100 million in 2008. The LA Times' Pop & Hiss blog has the story:
Each time a song is played on Pandora, KCRW's website or XM Satellite Radio, the virtual sound of fractions of pennies are heard dropping into SoundExchange's pocket. Multiply that by billions of songs heard over the Internet each year and, voila, a new income stream for musicians is born.
The only problem is that the company, a non-profit based in Washington, DC, can't always find the musicians who make the music that gets so much e-love. By the end of 2009, SoundExchange had accumulated a whopping $111 million in undistributed royalties. They do seem to be getting better at finding the squirrelly hipsters who're getting all this fat online cash, though. The company distributed 84% of what they collected in 2009, which is a big increase over the 71% they distributed in 2008, and practically dwarfs the 28% they got to musicians in 2007. They're hoping to get to 97% this year. It's worth pointing out that the $155 million SoundExchange handed out in 2009 accounts for around 1.5% of the total revenue made by the music industry in the same year. So online radio isn't going to totally save the industry's soul.
Cash is cash, though. And if I were a (real) musician, I'd be checking this unpaid artists list right quick.