From 2007 to 2011, Bill served as a consultant for the artist-friendly group, SoundExchange. The group collects new performance royalties for recording artists and record labels from cable, satellite and Internet "webcasting" services. These are new royalties created in 1995 by federal law. They are separate from traditional songwriter royalties.
For the first time, recording artists receive royalty money for airplay, and they are paid directly, instead of through their record companies, which historically applied such revenue against their recording, publicity and marketing accounts. Regular radio, long fierce opponents of a performance royalty for artists, is still exempted, but if a radio station digitally simulcasts its programs, by law it must pay in to the royalty pool.
Calling on his experience in investigative journalism and extensive knowledge of this country's music makers, SoundExchange asked Bill to come on board as an outreach specialist, tracking down and contacting artists who have not come forward to collect their royalties. These royalties are sometimes sizable. But even if they are small, forecasters say they will become a significant revenue stream now that webcasting and satellite radio services are becoming part of the mainstream.
Many of these artists are on indie labels; many others are heritage performers whose airplay "lifespan" has suddenly been extended by performances on these new services. Many had no knowledge of SoundExchange nor that these royalty monies even existed.
"It was a great job," Bill says. "To be able to track down these folks and tell them that there's money waiting for them to compensate them for their creative efforts." He adds: "It's certainly a brand new day for recording artists. We're now in a new media era in which listeners can finally tune into programs while in their car or at their PCs that go deep into genres like jazz, folk and world music that regular radio has long abandoned. And artists, finally, are benefiting.
Recently, Bill began similar consultant work for the AFM-AFTRA Recording Artists Royalty Fund, which collect and distributes royalties for non-featured recording artists -- session musicians and background singers.