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Digital radio royalties top $1 billion

The milestone reflects the industry expansion and growing popularity of Internet radio and other digital music services.

It appears that Internet radio and other digital music services are starting to pay off for musicians.

SoundExchange, a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes performance royalties on behalf of artists and labels, announced today that it had distributed $1 billion in digital royalty payments to recording artists and record labels since its inception in 2000. The organization, which collects royalties from satellite radio, Internet radio, cable radio, and similar services, said it distributed more than $108 million in royalties in the first quarter of 2011 -- the first time its distributions exceeded $100 million in a quarter.

The accomplishment also reflects the industry expansion and growing popularity of digital radio, the organization said.

"This milestone reflects the fact that the digital music industry is evolving and will continue to grow," Michael Huppe, president of SoundExchange, said in a statement. "We're optimistic about where the music industry is headed and see opportunity for SoundExchange to help both creators and digital music services thrive."

The organization, which was was created in 2000 by the Recording Industry Association of America, represents both signed and unsigned recording artists as well as record companies of all sizes. The creation of the group was enabled by the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which for the first time required Webcasters to pay royalties.