Is SiriusXM Trying To Stop Making Royalty Payments To Musicians?

That’s the explosive claim that the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the American Federation of Musicians are making today based on the satellite radio company’s efforts to cut deals with independent record labels giving them 100% of the royalty payments. Such an arrangement would break with the traditional practice of funneling 45% of royalties to SoundExchange — a clearinghouse authorized by Congress to handle artists’ payments — with 5% going to the unions (typically to pay session musicians), and the remaining half going to record labels. “This move is blatantly anti-artist and anti-musician,” says AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth. “The statutory license established by Congress and the system administered by SoundExchange ensures transparency, efficiency, accountability — and most important — direct, non-recoupable payment to artists of their fair share of royalties for SiriusXM’s use of their music.” SiriusXM didn’t immediately respond to a request to provide its views in the dispute.

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