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About Us

The Fund

The Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (the “SRSPF”), a 501 c (6) not-for-profit organization, collects and distributes to musicians payments made to the SRSPF by record companies based on their exploitations of sound recordings (mainly audio subscriptions and streaming) recorded under their collective bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (the “AFM”).

The basis on which payments are made to the SRSPF by the record companies is described in the collective bargaining agreement, known as the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (“SRLA”), and the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund Agreement (“SRSPF Agreement”) that accompanies the SRLA.

The basis on which the SRSPF distributes these payments to musicians is also described in the SRLA and the SRSPF Agreement. For more information on the three annual distributions (the main-annual, traditional music video, and sampling), see Distributions.

In connection with its collection of payments from the record companies and distribution of those payments to musicians, the SRSPF’s administrative functions include identifying musicians eligible for payment and locating those musicians (or their beneficiaries, if applicable), calculating the amounts payable them, periodically auditing the record companies to confirm that correct payments are made, withholding applicable payroll tax and other required deductions and remitting them to governmental agencies, and issuing musicians’ year-end wage and tax statements (e.g. W-2 and T4A).

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Our Mission

We are dedicated to collect and to distribute residual payments to musicians as a result of their craftmanship in creating sound recordings. We are committed to operate with integrity and proficiently, to provide exceptional service to musicians and to adapt to changes in the music industry as it evolves.

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History

The Sound Recording Special Payments Fund (originally known as the Phonograph Record Manufacturers' Special Payments Fund), was established in 1964 by the American Federation of Musicians (the "AFM") and record companies employing musicians represented by the AFM, under a collective bargaining agreement then known as the Phonograph Record Labor Agreement (the predecessor to the current Sound Recording Labor Agreement).

The origin of the SRSPF was many years earlier, however, when the AFM's historical commitment to establish residual payments/wages on the sales of phonograph records resulted in a new provision in the 1960 Phonograph Record Labor Agreement that required the parties "to use their best efforts to evolve an equitable plan for [residual] . . . payments to musicians." In the following Phonograph Record Labor Agreement, which began in 1964, the parties established the obligation of the record companies to contribute a percentage of their revenues on record sales into a fund for distribution to musicians. The SRSPF was created to implement and administer this provision of the 1964 agreement.

Over the years, while the basic structure and operation of the SRSPF has remained relatively unchanged, as technology has evolved, so has the recording industry, which has introduced new music products. Ongoing collective bargaining has resulted in the SRSPF receiving new revenues on the exploitation of the new products and making more distribution payments to musicians. In its early years, residual payments from industry were based on sales of LPs and cassettes, which were replaced by CDs. By the mid-2000s, digital downloads were introduced and generated residual payments that grew to equal those from the sales of CDs. In recent years, as technology evolved to make vast libraries of music accessible to consumers, music listeners began to utilize streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and YouTube. Currently, most of the payments are based on residuals from audio subscriptions and streaming.

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Policies/Rules

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Governing Agreements

The official rules governing operation of the SRSPF are set forth in the Sound Recording Labor Agreement (“SRLA”) and the Sound Recording Special Payments Fund Agreement (“SRSPF Agreement”). The terms of these Agreements will control in the event of any inconsistency between those terms and any provisions described on this website. The SRSPF Agreement accompanies the SRLA Agreement and from time to time is renegotiated, amended and renewed. To view the most recent SRLA or SRSPF Agreements and an amendment to them, see SRLA, SRSPF Agreement or AFM/Recording Industry Term Sheet.

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De Minimis and Distribution Forfeiture Policies at a Glance...
De Minimis Amount Forfeiture After
(if threshold not met within)
Main-Annual Distribution $25 3 Years
Traditional Music Video Distribution $25 3 Years
Sampling Distribution $10 3 Years
De Minimis policy – a musician’s distribution payment will not be paid if it is under the applicable de minimis amount. For a complete explanation of the de minimis policy see De Minimis Policy.
Forfeiture policy – a musician’s unclaimed distribution is forfeited and reallocated to other musicians if he or she cannot be located (or has not claimed his or her distribution) within three years after the distribution is made. For a complete explanation of the forfeiture policy see Forfeiture Policy.

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Three-Year Forfeiture Policy for Unclaimed Distributions

If a musician who is entitled to any of the three types of annual distributions (main-annual, traditional music video, or sampling) cannot be located, or has been located but has not cashed his or her distribution check, the distribution amount is held on behalf of the musician until the end of the third fiscal year (that is, April 30) falling in the third calendar year following the calendar year in which the distribution first came due. If the musician has still not claimed the amount by the end of the third fiscal year, it will be forfeited and added to the general account for its distribution type and reallocated to all eligible musicians as part of the next annual distribution. For example, all outstanding payments resulting from the main-annual distribution on August 1, 2017 (related to payments collected by the SRSPF during the fiscal year ended April 30, 2017) were forfeited on April 30, 2020 (the end of the fiscal year that occurs in the third following calendar year), and added to the main-annual distribution for 2020, to be distributed to eligible musicians on August 1, 2020.

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Distribution Checks Valid for 90 Days

Distribution checks are valid for 90 days from the date of issuance. If you do not cash it by then, the check will be voided and you must contact the SRSPF’s Music Information Department at info@sound-recording.org to request a replacement check.

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De Minimis Policy

Main-Annual Distribution – In cases where a musician's distribution payment is less than $25, it will be regarded as "de minimis" and placed in a reserve fund, to be paid to the musician only if, when added to the musician's distribution amount in either or both of the two following years, the cumulative amount is $25 or greater. Any amounts otherwise payable that are under $25 and remain undistributed by the end of the SRSPF's third fiscal year are re-deposited into the SRSPF’s main-annual reserve account for distribution to all eligible musicians as part of the next annual distribution.

Traditional Music Video Distribution – handled in the same manner as the main-annual distribution except that the $25 de minimis amounts calculated by aggregating all of the amounts earned for songs that are eligible for traditional music video distributions during a year.

Sampling Distribution – handled in the same manner as the main-annual distribution except that the $10 de minimis amount is, calculated by aggregating all of the amounts earned for sampled songs during a year.

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Distribution Information at a Glance...
Distribution Revenue Sources Eligible Musicians Distribution Calculations
Main-Annual
  • Audio streams
  • Physical product sales
  • Digital downloads
  • Licensing for specified uses (e.g., movies, videogames)
Musicians who earned scale wages for services in connection with the recording of sound recordings in at least one of the five years immediately preceding the distribution year. Ratio of musician’s scale wages for each of the five years to all musicians’ scale wages for each of those years.
Traditional Music Video
  • Video streams
  • Physical product sales
  • Digital downloads
Musicians who performed services in connection with the recording of the song contained in the video. Amount collected for the song is divided equally among eligible musicians.
Sampling
  • Licensing
Musicians who performed services in connection with recording the song that is sampled. Amount collected for the song is divided equally among eligible musicians.

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Important Dates at a Glance...
Distribution/Tax Form Direct Deposit Application Deadline Change of Address Deadline Payment/Mailing Date
Main-Annual June 30th July 15th August 1st
Traditional Music Video Unavailable September 15th September 30th
Sampling Unavailable April 15th May 1st

W-2 & 1099 N/A January 15th January 31st
T4-A & RL-1 (Canada) N/A January 15th February 28th

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Oversight Committee

The Oversight Committee (“Committee”) oversees the activities and operations of SRSPF. The Committee consists of up to one representative from each of four major record companies, that are signatory to the SRLA. A representative or representatives of the AFM (but not exceeding three) appointed by the AFM President serve as liaisons to the committee.

Record Company Representative

James A. Harrington

AFM Liaisons

Raymond M. Hair, Jr.
David Pomeroy
Tino Gagliardi
Neil Stubenhaus

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Management

Fund Administrator
V. Robert DiPaola

Director of Information and Technology
Syed Ali

Manager of Musicians’ Information Services
Susan Wyllie

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