More than 42,000 session musicians and singers will be sharing $62 million in royalties collected by the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, touted as the largest distribution in the fund’s history.
The unions say that the average payment to studio musicians and singers is approximately $1,500, but some performers are receiving well above that amount. The fund distributed $60 million in royalties in 2019 and over $430 million since it was created in 2008.
“This is great news at such a difficult time for musicians,” said Ray Hair, president of the American Federation of Musicians. “This fund provides for session players who live gig to gig, and there has never been a greater need for royalty income than right now, with the extensive cancellation of live performances.”
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“The music industry has been massively impacted by COVID-19,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland , SAG-AFTRA’s chief operating officer and general counsel, “and no one more so than performers whose touring work has been halted and whose recordings are mostly cancelled. We’re proud of the Fund’s commitment and diligence in ensuring that the distribution of royalties will reach tens of thousands of performers at a time when that financial security is needed more than ever.”
Established by the AFM and SAG-AFTRA, the fund distributes domestic royalties required to be paid by law from non-interactive digital streaming providers like Pandora and SiriusXM to non-featured performers – session vocalists and musicians. The fund, a non-profit organization, also distributes royalties from various foreign performance rights organizations to U.S. non-featured artists.
“I am incredibly proud of our staff, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this distribution went out on schedule to the performers who so greatly need it during these difficult economic times. Their dedication to the mission of the Fund and its participants is unparalleled,” said fund CEO Stefanie Taub.
The union leaders noted that the fund “makes every effort to contact all artists who may have earned royalties, but there is insufficient information to process payments for some performers.” They encouraged all musicians and vocalists to check the fund’s unclaimed royalties site to see if they may be owed money.
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