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Record-Breaking Royalty Payments for Session Musicians

AFM and SAG-AFTRA announced that the AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund distributed $62 million in royalties to session musicians and vocalists—the largest distribution in the fund’s history.

“This is great news at such a difficult time for musicians. This fund provides for session players who live gig to gig, and there has never been a greater need for royalty income than right now, with the extensive cancellation of live performances,” said AFM International President Ray Hair.

“The music industry has been massively impacted by COVID-19, and no one more so than performers whose touring work has been halted and whose recordings are mostly cancelled. We’re proud of the fund’s commitment and diligence in ensuring that the distribution of royalties will reach tens of thousands of performers at a time when that financial security is needed more than ever,” said SAG-AFTRA’s Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland.

Established by AFM and SAG-AFTRA, the fund distributes domestic royalties from non-interactive digital streaming providers like Pandora and Sirius XM to non-featured performers (session musicians and background singers). The fund, a non-profit organization, also distributes royalties from various foreign performance rights’ organizations to U.S. artists.

Over 42,000 participants in all 50 states and Canada will be receiving payment. The average payment to studio musicians and singers is approximately $1500, but some performers are receiving well above that amount. The fund distributed $60 million in royalties in 2019 and over $430 million since it was created in 2008.

Hair and Crabtree-Ireland explained that the fund makes every effort to contact all artists who may have earned royalties, but there is insufficient information to process payments for some performers. Both union leaders are encouraging all musicians and vocalists to check here to see if they may be owed money.

“I am incredibly proud of our staff, who have worked tirelessly to ensure that this distribution went out on schedule to the performers who so greatly need it during these difficult economic times. Their dedication to the mission of the fund and its participants is unparalleled,” added AFM & SAG-AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund CEO Stefanie Taub.