Ex-RIAA agency "can't find" artists it owes money to, like Public Enemy

Fred von Lohmann sez,

SoundExchange (which is in charge of collecting and distributing royalties collected from satellite radio and webcasting) can't seem to locate the artists to whom these royalties are to be paid. If the monies are not disbursed, SoundExchange gets to keep them. Apparently SoundExchange was worried about publishing the list for fear that "middlemen" would try to swipe a piece of the action for connecting artists with their royalties. (Did they ever think to reach out to the fans?)

They finally published a list of the artists they "can't find."

Check out all the major label artists they can't find:

Cassandra Wilson (Blue Note)?
J. J. Cale (Mercury)?
Jane Siberry (Warner)?
Jeff Buckley (Columbia Records — they're still putting out his stuff posthumously, with help from his mother!)?
Booker T & the MGs?!!!
Public Enemy? !!!!!!

Not to mention major indie artists like:

Pizzicato Five
Pete Rock

And they can't find Public Image Ltd, despite the fact that they found Johnny Rotten's "other band," the Sex Pistols? They can't seem to find "Neko Case & Her Boyfriends", despite the fact that they seem to have found Neko Case?

The only silver lining here is that to look at the list is to realize that webcasters are bringing real musical diversity back to America — it's a much richer list than you'd get by aggregating playlists from FM radio!

For SoundExchange's sake, I hope there's a reasonable explanation for this.


Update 2: Fred sez, "Turns out SoundExchange WAS part of the RIAA until 2003. Now it's independent — although each of the major labels has a board seat. Anyhow, the point is the same — SoundExchange certainly has deep connections with the major label establishment, so. Here's the FAQ re SoundExchange.

Update: Laura sends in links to other pools of unclaimed royalties for artists:


EMI music publishing,

Sony BMG,

Universal Music,

Harry Fox,