What is The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC)?

What is The MLC?

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) is a nonprofit organization created in 2019 by the Music Modernization Act (MMA) to administer blanket mechanical licenses to eligible streaming services and pay the resulting royalties to songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers. It is designated by the US Copyright office (USCO), and endorsed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA).

Do I need to sign up directly with The MLC or register my works with them if I’m already with Songtrust?

No. If you're signed up with Songtrust, we register your songs with The MLC on your behalf, along with registration at local societies and other pay sources in the US and in more than 215 countries and territories around the world. 

What kinds of royalties does The MLC collect?

The MLC covers a limited scope of US only services whose activities are covered under section 115 of the Copyright Act. This means that The MLC will only collect and pay mechanical interactive streaming royalties generated by eligible Digital Service Providers (DSPs) including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, and others.

What kinds of royalties does The MLC NOT collect?

The MLC does not collect or distribute royalties for any of the following usage types:

  • Non-interactive streaming (e.g. online radio)
  • Public performance of any kind (e.g. live, radio, TV)
  • Audio visual (e.g. YouTube, TikTok, Amazon)
  • Synch
  • Lyrics, lyric stickers (e.g. Instagram)
  • Physical sales
  • Any non-US generated usages

However, Songtrust is well placed to ensure that our clients continue to receive royalties from the above types of usages via our network of more than 215 pay-sources.

What countries and territories does The MLC collect from?

Only the United States. It does not collect mechanical royalties generated outside of the US.

Who operates and oversees The MLC?

The MLC is a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office. The MLC’s board of directors includes ten music publishing executives and three songwriters; Kara DioGuardi, Oak Felder, and Kevin Kadish. The MLC has three advisory committees; the Operations Advisory Committee where Songtrust co-founder Joe Conyers III serves, the Dispute Resolution Committee where Songtrust Global Head of Rights Management Operations, Sean McGraw serves, as well as an Unclaimed Royalties Oversight Committee.

Why was The MLC founded?

The MLC was founded to administer blanket mechanical licenses to eligible DSPs. Under these licenses, The MLC invoices DSPs and then distributes mechanical royalties to rights holders based on interactive streaming usages on these services.

How does The MLC work?

The MLC administers blanket mechanical licenses to interactive streaming services in the United States that are eligible to receive one. It then collects the royalties due under those licenses from the digital service providers and pays them to the appropriate songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers.

When will it become fully operational?

The MLC is officially, and fully, operational as of January 1st, 2021.

What is the cost of using The MLC and who is funding it?

Songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers do not pay to use The MLC. By law, the digital services that use The MLC will proportionally fund The MLC’s startup costs of $33.5 million and first-year operational budget of $28.5 million. Following the first year of operation, each subsequent year’s funding requirements will be reassessed and funded by the DSPs. 

Does The MLC offer any type of distribution of my music?

No.

What happens if I've already registered songs at The MLC and am a Songtrust client, or, if I register my works both at Songtrust and The MLC?

If you registered with The MLC and added songs there before you became a Songtrust client, Songtrust will take over your MLC registrations once you add the songs into your Songtrust account. For all future registrations, you will only register once with Songtrust, and we'll register with The MLC and our other sources for you.
 
If you are already a Songtrust client and you attempt to register any of your Songtrust works with The MLC directly, those registrations will be rejected, in order to avoid duplicate registrations causing confusion and delay on The MLC side.

You can read through our other FAQs here, as well as our Glossary on music industry terms here. We also have a blog post covering the timeline of the Music Modernization Act, which you can read here.

 

Songtrust | MMA Timeline

 

Resources:

The MLC Receives $424 Million in Historical Unmatched Royalties from DSPs

Songtrust: The Music Modernization Act and You

What is the Music Modernization Act?

What is The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC)?

What Is the Music Modernization Act (MMA), and What Does it Mean for Me?

Let's Talk Music Publishing: The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC) Webinar