By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston Observer staff reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver
Collection agency SoundExchange has released a list of artistes and labels it says are owed millions of dollars in unclaimed digital performance royalties.
Among them are several dancehall and reggae artistes including Aaron Silk, G Mafia, G-Whizz, Galaxy P, M'Lonie, MBC and the late Garnet Silk, whose name has an asterisk beside his name. This signifies that one or more persons may own the rights to a given work or, the account may not currently be payable.
Other reggae acts listed on the company's website (SoundExchange.com) are Natty King, Natural Black, Natty Remo, Natural Vibrations and Tanya Stephens.
According to the site, any artiste or label being played on digital streaming services (including Internet radio, satellite and cable radio) have to be registered with SoundExchange to stake a claim for royalties.
Based in Washington, the company is a non-profit performance rights organisation that collects royalties on behalf of sound recording owners and artistes "for non-interactive digital transmissions, including satellite and Internet radio".
The royalties are up to three or more years old and range from US$10 to US$100,000.
"The digital music industry is continuing to grow, providing recording artistes and record labels with an increasingly beneficial revenue stream. We are doing everything possible to make sure artistes and labels know that and capitalise on it," SoundExchange president Michael Huppe was quoted as saying in a release on the site.
"SoundExchange is releasing this list in hopes of getting artistes and copyright holders to claim their digital performance royalties. We want to get the money out of our bank account and into theirs, plain and simple."
Evon Mullings of JAMMS (Jamaica Music Society) a network of producers and collecting societies based in Kingston, told the Sunday Observer that his organisation has a royalty arrangement with SoundExchange for its list of 400 artistes and music producers.
"Part of our objective is to strategically increase the number of reciprocal agreements we have in place with other similar collecting societies worldwide. To this end, we recently concluded a reciprocal agreement with SoundExchange in respect of the Record Producers/Labels that we represent," Mullings said in an email response.
The Sound Exchange website also issued a warning that copyright holders should register claims by October 15 or they could find themselves missing out on unclaimed royalties collected three or more years ago.
"Sound Exchange is authorised by law to release older unclaimed royalties to offset our costs and distribute proportionally to those we already pay. We have repeatedly held off on doing this, but we need your help to spread the word and get recording artistes and record labels to register," the statement read.
Recently, Ibo Cooper disclosed there was millions of dollars in unclaimed royalties for Jamaican artistes in France.