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SoundExchange Takes SiriusXM to Court Over Royalties: What Musicians Need to Know

In a recent legal dustup, SoundExchange has accused SiriusXM of using murky math to underpay royalties. Let's break this down for you.

The Players: SoundExchange and SiriusXM

SoundExchange is in the business of collecting digital royalties on behalf of composers and writers. They collect these royalties from companies that program music, like radio platforms. These platforms don't let you, the listener, choose the tunes; they curate their playlists. What's tricky here is that creators can't see the numbers and streams behind the scenes. SoundExchange is pretty much the only agency that can collect these royalties.

The Accusation

SoundExchange claims that SiriusXM has shown its revenue calculations to be much less than they actually are from satellite radio services. Simultaneously, they say SiriusXM has inflated the amunt of revenue for its streaming radio service. All this, according to SoundExchange, is to pay less in royalties to artists and copyright holders.

The Fallout

Soundexchange is asking for compensatory damages to cover what's owed, along with late fees, interest, and lawyer fees. Despite this legal showdown, SiriusXM insists they'll continue working with SoundExchange. They don't really have a choice in this matter unless they just plan to not pay out royalties at all.

Our Take

It does not seem as though SoundExchange is just bringing this lawsuit frivolously. Many of these music streaming services use some pretty complex, convoluted math to calculate royalties. Musicians are almost always left in the dark about how these royalties are actually calculated.

That's where companies like SoundExchange come in. They're supposed to keep a close eye on these calculations and make sure everyone gets their fair share. So, it looks like they're doing their job.

In the end, this legal battle is shining a spotlight on a crucial issue: transparency in the world of music royalties. Musicians deserve to know how they're getting paid for their hard work, and SoundExchange is fighting to make sure that happens.


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