What is the MLC doing for independent artists?

Image Credit: The MLC

The new collective launches in a month to earn songwriters more from music on digital services in the U.S..

The MLC – short for Mechanical Licensing Collective – are a new collection agency launching at the start of 2021. They have been officiated by the U.S. Copyright Office to collect mechanical royalties online on behalf of songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers.

Despite the number of rights organisations for physical music, it is still surprisingly difficult for many artists to properly earn their entitled cut for compositions in the blossoming world of digital music. The MLC will change that and ensure that music streamed and downloaded in the United States provides creators and copyright holders the correct revenues for both performance and composition.

What does this mean for artists?

Every song has a series of different copyrights which apply to it in different ways. When music is being streamed on digital services like Spotify then there are normally two copyrights which apply: The performance license and the mechanical license.

The performance license applies to the recording of the music and entitles artists to royalties every time a track is listened to. The mechanical license applies to the composition of the song and therefore also applies to each listen of a song, but isn’t necessarily directed to the recording artist but the original songwriter.

In the case of original songs this means the artist is entitled to revenues from every stream in both instances. This license means that, in the case of cover songs the original songwriter will still earn their due whilst the performer gets their cut for their version of it. Whilst performance royalties are easily distributed, the mechanical license credit and revenue stream can easily become lost online.

The MLC will streamline the process of crediting the correct people for mechanical licenses in digital music and ensure that the earnings entitled to them from every stream and download are correctly sent to them.

Will I still need to use a distributor?

Short answer: Yes!

Longer answer: Distributors like us at RouteNote will still be the ones getting your music onto streaming services and stores in the first place. We will still be the ones collecting your performance royalties for every stream. The MLC will simply provide more protection and potentially extra revenue streams for music in the U.S..

The MLC will officially start operating in January 2021. You can sign up as a member to claim your music on their website.

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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