The Elephant In The Room: Unclaimed / Undistributed Royalties

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In the United States, there are several “unclaimed / undistributed royalties” funds held by music rights organizations. These funds collectively consist of tens of millions of dollars in undistributed earnings generated by the use of music within the greater music industry, from legislative appropriations imposed on manufacturers of audio home recording media, and from agreements with foreign entities.

Some of the organizations (SoundExchange, AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund, Live Television Videotape Supplemental Market Fund, and although this is not royalties per say, the US Copyright Office has a Section 115 NOIs Filing database that can be used to track down missing mechanical royalties) have created public databases so that music creators can search to see if they have royalties sitting in these funds. However, the biggest funds do not have public databases and often music creators can not be reached by any of these funds to be notified that they have unclaimed royalties.

I am working on a side project called RoyaltyClaim.com to address this issue of unclaimed / undistributed royalties. The goal is to get each of these funds to join the RoyaltyClaim.com Disclosure Program and to encourage them to submit very basic information to us on a periodic basis regarding the income participants who are due royalties. We will then aggregate these disclosures and maintain one searchable public database accessible for free by music creators and income participants.

By aggregating these lists of unclaimed / undistributed royalties information, we can aid income participants — including songwriters, recording artists, publishers, labels, musicians, background vocalists, composers, and beneficiaries (in the event of musician parents or spousals who passed away, but their music still generates royalties) — in locating and claiming their monies.

If you are a music creator, you should signup at RoyaltyClaim.com to be notified of our launch. We are currently in conversations with the various funds to get them to cooperate and help creators and their families.

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About Dae Bogan

Dae Bogan is a music industry professional. Connect with Dae on Twitter at @DaeBoganMusic.

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