Moses Supposes

Moses Supposes: How can artists collect foreign-radio income right now?

Moses Avalon is one of the nation’s leading music-business consultants and artists’-rights advocates and is the author of a top-selling music business reference, Confessions of a Record Producer. More of his articles can be found at

You have money sitting in bank accounts in European and Canadian rights organizations. Why are you not trying to get it? The following is a sample chapter/excerpt from the revolutionary tell-all book by music business veteran Moses Avalon called 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business. Enjoy.

What money? My money is in a foreign bank? Oh yeah — a lot of it. In fact, though you could wait years for royalty checks from US labels, there are foreign agencies (and yes, Canada is a foreign country) that have cash for you now, if you know how to get it.

Unlike the US, just about every other country pays both the record company and the artist when their recording is played on radio and TV. In the US, we only pay the songwriters. (This will change when we are able to pass the Performing Rights Act. But in the meantime…) The key to getting this sound-recording money comes in understanding a term called “Neighboring Rights.” As the term implies, this is money for rights that neighboring countries owe to authors of phonorecords and is collected by Neighboring Rights Organizations (NROs). They are like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, except they collect money for the sound recording instead of the composition.

So if a German artist has records playing on French radio, the French NRO collects the money from the French radio stations and pays the German NRO the performance fees. The German NRO then pays the artist/label in their territory.

These warm and friendly rights are a creation of an international treaty called the Rome Convention, which was adopted in 1961. It protects artists and producers of sound recordings against unauthorized reproduction. It also covers certain “secondary uses” of music recordings, such as broadcasting.

This simply means that it creates a revenue stream that must be paid to the producers, labels, and artists of sound recordings when they are played on the radio. Sounds great, right? How come I haven’t heard of this, and where can I get some? Well, there’s just one problem. Two actually. 1) The US hasn’t passed the Performing Rights Act yet, so we still don’t pay artists like the rest of the world, and 2) The real depressing news…the US didn’t opt into the Rome Convention.