Two Presidents, four comedians, one notorious murderer
and Hunter S. Thompson all M.I.A. Not to mention $$$ owed to dB’s, Beefheart,
Skrillex, and, er, Fuck.




On August
15, 2012 music industry organization Sound Exchange released its updated database
of over 50,000 recording artists and record labels that are owed millions of
dollars in unclaimed digital performance royalty payments. Those artists and
labels included on the list are currently owed better than $30 million in
accumulated, unclaimed royalties. Funds that have been held for three years or
more and aren’t claimed by October 15, 2012 will be forfeited.


Formed by the Recording Industry Association of America
(RIAA), Sound Exchange has been authorized by the Library of Congress to collect
royalties for the digital transmission of sound recordings and then pay these
monies back out to artists and record labels. For example, Sound Exchange
collects royalties from XM Sirius satellite radio; from cable and satellite
television (Muzak or MusicChoice channels); and from Internet radio stations
like Pandora and Spotify.


Reverend spent the better part of a weekend digging through the 50,000+ names
that Sound Exchange has listed as “unregistered” artists for which
they’re holding unclaimed digital performance royalties, and who they just
can’t seem to track down. The results are sometimes puzzling, and other times
amusing. Among those people that the organization is looking for are former
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. While the latter may be difficult to
track down considering that, you know, he’s been dead for awhile, ol’ Slick
Willie has never been better and shouldn’t be too hard to find in his Harlem office.





A number
of actors are included on the unregistered list, such as Tom Hanks, Neil
Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother),
and Seth McFarlane (Family Guy).
Several comedians are also included, such as Artie Lange, Amy Schumer, Dave
Chappelle and, in the case of Judah Friedlander (30 Rock), an actor and a comedian. Future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter of the New
York Yankees is owed some cash, as is the estate of the late, great gonzo
journalist Hunter S. Thompson. One of the oddest inclusions on the list is
convicted murderer and notorious cult leader Charles Manson…which, of course,
means that somewhere on satellite radio or the Internet, somebody has been
playing Manson-penned-and-performed tunes like “Garbage Dump” or
“Cease To Exist.”





Of course,
the world of rock ‘n’ roll is well-represented on the Sound Exchange list.
While some of the artists included are relatively new to the game (King Tuff, Lana
Del Ray, Skrillex – call your attorneys!), others such as Dave Grohl (Foo
Fighters), Steve Van Zandt (Springsteen’s E Street Band), and Roger Daltrey
(The Who) are seasoned veterans. Sometimes both a band and an important member of same are listed – such as Tom Verlaine
and Television, or Chris Stamey and the dB’s. And in some cases, as with the
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, it’s just an old, familiar name fronting a new






Internet has made everything old new again, which is why such obscure rockers
as Sir Lord Baltimore, Bloodrock, Ducks Deluxe, and Kenny & the Kasuals are
garnering airplay and earning royalties. Cult artists are also in abundance on
the Sound Exchange list as young listeners discover the charms of talents like Skip
Spence (Moby Grape), Barrence Whitfield, Jules Shear, Merrell Fankhauser, Sky
“Sunlight” Saxon, and Neutral Milk Hotel. Genre doesn’t seem to matter,
either, as the list includes punk rockers (Agent Orange, Black Flag), Americana artists
(Slobberbone), pop songwriters (Ben Vaughn), and metal bands (Kotipelto,
Opeth), all of which are owed some amount of money.


Sadly, a
number of late artists are included on the list, and their estates should know
that Sound Exchange is holding royalties for such beloved musicians as Clarence
Clemons, Captain Beefheart, Alex
Chilton, Dee Dee Ramone, Country Dick Montana, Stiv Bators, and Sandy Bull,
among many others. There are even a few true musical oddities to be found…OK, many
of these qualify as bona-fide trainwrecks…but certifiably unlistenable fare
from the likes of Screaming Lord Sutch, Jandek, and Lothar & the Hand
People is being played somewhere by
curious listeners and gaining royalties in the process.






Now, good
readers, the Reverend is no prude, but an astounding number of, well…shall we
say “scatological” band names are to be found on the list, including
several variations on the “F” word. Members of the bands Fuck, Fuck
Buttons, Fuck The Facts, and the Fuck Ups… register with Sound Exchange and
then, please, consider a career change. If your choice of band names is this
unimaginative, I can’t imagine how bad your music sounds. Ditto for the band
Piss Shit Fuck… have you guys considering taking up accounting?


for once and for all, that rock ‘n’ roll truly is the devil’s music, Satan is
included on the list…although considering that he’s already claimed the soul of
every record company executive, I can’t imagine what else he might want. You’re
never too big or famous an artist to have PR squad to hype your art, which may
be why Satan’s Cheerleaders is also listed here. Ol’ Scratch has some
competition, however, as Schaffer the Darklord is earning some coin of his own,
and the Suspicious Cheese Lords are lurking in the shadows, waiting for their





kidding aside, if you make music, or any sort of audio art, there’s a good
chance that you’re getting some play on satellite radio or the Internet, and
Sound Exchange may be holding some money for you. It may not be much cash, but
you’ve earned it, and the organization has paid out over $1 billion in
royalties so far, ranging from as low as $10 to as high as $100,000. If you’re
not listed with Sound Exchange, get over to their website immediately and
register… if not for today, then for any future royalties your music may earn.



CONTACT NOW: (this has been a public service announcement courtesy your friendly
neighborhood BLURT).


 Read previous BLURT coverage of Sound Exchange:

“Digital Dollars Due” 9/3/09

“SoundExchange Responds to Blurt Editorial”

SoundExchange Pt. 3: Marsh, Wilhelms, Etc. Respond” 9/28/09


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