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Tens of thousands of performers have failed to claim their digital dues from the Recording Industry Ass. Of America's royalties agency, SoundExchange. If they don't get in touch by the end of the year, SoundExchange will keep the royalties that were owed to them between 1996 and 2000.

SoundExchange was set up to bring the US into step with the rest of the world by paying a performers a royalty. ASCAP, BMI and SESCAP are the collection agencies responsible for distributing the songwriting royalty. SoundExchange's remit covers satellite broadcasts, cable music and webcasts.

(The RIAA lobbied Congress for a compulsory license (or "digital pool", or "flat fee") to raise money from internet broadcasters. That's a good compulsory license, they argue. But the RIAA has lobbied against a compulsory license (or "digital pool", or "flat fee") for recordings on digital media. Because that's a bad compulsory license. We hope you see the distinction.)

The decisions to make it an opt-in scheme, and to retain the unclaimed royalties have both raised hackles. As many as 38,000 artists - including backing performers - have failed to step forward. SoundExchange says these include The Shangri-Las and The Count Five, of Psychotic Reaction infamy.

Families of performers who have inconveniently died since recording their work are urged to step forward on their behalf, to here

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