Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
collections, money

Companies:
choruss, soundexchange



How Come SoundExchange Is Holding Onto Over $100 Million?

from the questions,-questions,-questions dept

We've talked about the ridiculousness of the various music collections societies being involved in the discussions on new music business models. To them, the answer is always the same: add another license and let us collect it. They're middlemen and they take in tons of money and would only be all too happy to take in more. Some got upset with us in the comments, by noting that some of these collections societies are non-profits. In fact, the new Choruss offering, which we've already explained why it's a bad idea that's more of a bait-and-switch than anything useful, has been described as a similar "non-profit" collections group.

But, as we've noted in the past, supposedly nonprofit collections groups such as SoundExchange (a spinoff of the RIAA) are notorious for not finding artists to pay -- even some of the biggest names in the business. Oh, and did we mention that if the royalties go "unclaimed" the recording industry (via SoundExchange) often gets to keep the money? Given that bit of info, it's perhaps no surprise at all that P2Pnet is noticing that SoundExchange's own tax returns note that the nonprofit was sitting on over $100 million at the end of 2007, a pretty significant leap over previous years, and a somewhat startling sum for a supposed "nonprofit" in charge of both collecting and distributing funds.

It seems like those musicians sure are difficult to find.

The P2Pnet report also points out that it will be interesting to see how much SoundExchange has spent on lobbying efforts. SoundExchange is actually barred from lobbying the government, but has been ignoring that for years by funding musicFIRST, a recording industry lobbying group that's trying to add a new license for radio stations to pay (collected by SoundExchange, of course) by claiming that radio is actually a form of piracy.

So, even if Choruss or these other collections societies seem to be designed with the best intentions in mind (and I'm sure they are), it seems that they're wide open to abuse -- which is yet another reason to be quite worried about simply handing over the entire industry's business model to such an operation.

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  1. identicon
    Weird Harold, 23 Mar 2009 @ 6:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Remarkable - all that, and you didn't read the article.

    The 101 million isn't an expense or a write-off. It's a fund , sitting waiting to be claimed.

    At no time am I saying "the expenses (like the 800k) is justified solely on the basis of it being a small number, rather just suggesting that taking numbers that appear big to the average person and peppering them around without reference to the overall flowthru of the organization in a year is misleading. There is no detail presented in the article to say what the consultants fees are for (but there is a ton on innuendo and speculation). Without knowing what they are for, we cannot pass judgement. My only point was that if they turn 1 billion a year, 800k is a very small amount, and perhaps may be in line with other organizations on ratio. I don't know - but I would want to know more before throwing crap around.

    So there you go, point by point. Enjoy.

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