What is SoundExchange?

November 20, 2012

Dear Music Lawyer,

I'm a songwriter, and I'm registered with ASCAP. I recently heard that I should also register with SoundExchange to collect performance monies, but I thought that but I thought you could only affiliate with one performance rights organization. Can I really register with both?


Dear Mary,

Since SoundExchange is relatively new (it was created in 2000), there is a lot of confusion in this area.

Yes, it is true that as a songwriter you can only affiliate with one of the U.S. performance rights organizations -- namely, ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC. However, while SoundExchange also collects public performance monies, it collects them on behalf of performers and sound recording owners (not songwriters and publishers).

As a result, if you are also a performer (either featured or non-featured) and/or you own sound recordings, you could benefit from registering with SoundExchange.

In fact, you should register with SoundExchange if you performed on or own recordings that are played on satellite radio (such as SIRIUS XM), Internet radio (e.g., Pandora), cable television music channels, and similar platforms for streaming sound recordings or you could be leaving money on the table.

TIP: You can see if SoundExchange already has money for you by checking the unregistered artists and unregistered sound recording owners databases.

SoundExchange registration is currently free, and you can register and/or update your information here.

—Amy E. Mitchell

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