SoundExchange, the performance rights organization (PRO) responsible for collecting non-interactive public performance revenue for sound recordings in the United States, is an invaluable resource for performers and labels. With its ubiquitous presence in the US market, it can prove to be a strong revenue source, also having its own system for labels and distributors to manage their catalog and any potential conflicts.
Historically a process that was split between different stages throughout the calendar year, SoundExchange has recently introduced some exciting changes to their conflict resolution workflow by launching a web portal this past November. With this, SoundExchange provides more transparency on copyright disputes, and increases the agency their partners have in resolving these issues. Rightsholders have the ability to alter their claims manually via their portal, and view new issues in real-time, eliminating the need to wait an entire year for their new conflict resolution round to begin.
Below we’ve laid out some helpful pointers to provide guidance while navigating these conflicts in the new portal.
What are Overlaps & Disputes, and what is the difference between them?
What would normally be identified as an ownership conflict on other platforms is called either an Overlap or Dispute at SoundExchange. In simple terms, these are instances in which more than one rightsholder is claiming to hold rights over the same master recording.
Overlaps are conflicts in which one or more of the rightsholders in conflict have not yet confirmed whether their claim of ownership is correct. This means there is still a chance the conflict will be resolved once a rightsholder reviews the track and removes an erroneous claim. Overlaps usually occur in two distinct stages: one in which the existing claimant has 90 days to review and provide their response, followed by a 30-day period for the new claimant to review as well. If either deadline is missed, the conflict would be automatically resolved in favor of the other claimant.
Disputes are conflicts in which all involved rightsholders have confirmed their claims to be correct. Disputes do not have a deadline to be resolved, and must be sorted directly between the parties involved.
What are Rights-end and Rights-start dates?
Ownership of a sound recording doesn’t need to be absolute, and SoundExchange allows for different ways to split the recording. Aside from ownership percentages, SoundExchange also provides the ability to set dates in which the appropriate rights have begun or have ended. For instance, if Rightsholder A has sold part of their catalog to Rightsholder B, the effective date of that sale can be considered the rights-end date for Rightsholder A’s ownership, and the following day would be Rightsholder B’s rights-start date. If these dates are not provided to SoundExchange, then a conflict would arise. Those can be easily resolved by simply inputting the appropriate dates into the platform and making sure they match on both accounts.
I have an Overlap/Dispute with The Orchard. How can this be resolved?
The Orchard provides comprehensive Performance Collections services, in which we deliver, maintain and resolve potential issues (including conflicts) on behalf of our clients at multiple performance rights societies. This service includes SoundExchange in the US, PPL in the UK, GVL in Germany, among others. If you are a client of The Orchard’s it is likely that your contract includes collection services at these societies, so conflicts could arise in cases where you still have active claims at any of these platforms.
If this applies to you, please check your distribution contract. If it includes Performance Collections services and you would like The Orchard to continue collections on your behalf at these societies, be sure to relinquish your claim on SoundExchange’s portal. Note that in these cases The Orchard is not claiming to own your catalog, but solely claiming it on your behalf. Revenue earned via these claims is paid to you as Performance Collections revenue in your monthly or quarterly statements. If your contract does not include Performance Collections services, be sure to reach out to your label manager or client services team so we may review and promptly resolve the issue.
If, however, you are not associated with The Orchard and still have a conflict with us at SoundExchange, there are a few things to consider:
- A good place to start is to ensure that your label or distributor is not distributed or represented by The Orchard. The track in conflict may be administered by us via your partners, and the situation would be similar to what we’ve discussed above.
- Ensure that your rights-end and rights-start dates accurately represent the period of your master rights ownership.
- If you are sure you control the rights to the sound recording in conflict and that the rights dates are correct, contact our Performance Claims team at [email protected], and provide all relevant information (such as the SXID, ISRC, Title and Artist). Our team will review your request and work with our clients to resolve the issue.
SoundExchange is a leading organization in the field of performance rights, and has developed intricate systems that allow labels and artists to earn revenue for their content. These systems can be overwhelming, but The Orchard’s performance collections expertise is a major benefit for our clients. The details do matter in these cases, but our team is here to help.