What is the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC)?
In short, the MLC is a new collection society that will collect streaming mechanical royalties in the United States.
The long version:
The MLC is a new Mechanical Rights Organization (MRO) based in the United States and designated by the U.S. Copyright Office to issue and administer the digital audio mechanical blanket license in accordance with the Music Modernization Act to Digital Service Providers (DSPs) in the United States.
Starting in 2021, the MLC will become the governing body responsible for setting statutory royalty rates, replacing the previous governing body, the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB). Among other duties, the MLC is empowered to provide blanket licenses for streaming services. It provides a baseline structure to ensure that royalties are actually collected and distributed to rights holders. The MLC will be responsible for matching those royalties to copyright holders (songwriters and publishers) and paying them out.
The MLC will also establish a publicly accessible database containing information relating to music works and their owners.
It’s important to note that the MLC will not, overlap, conflict, or compete with Performing Rights Organizations (PRO).
Should I sign up with the MLC?
Songwriters with publishing representation should not sign up or register their works with the MLC. If you’ve signed up for CD Baby Pro Publishing we will register your works with the MLC and collect mechanical royalties from streaming through the MLC on your behalf.
If you are distributing music through CD Baby at the Standard level, you can upgrade your submissions to Pro which will make us your publishing administrator. This way, you don’t have to worry about the hassle of signing up with a new collection society or registering your works. CD Baby will do all of this for you, and more!
If you do not use CD Baby Pro Publishing and do not have publishing representation through another administrator like Songtrust, then you should look into signing up and registering your works with the MLC.
Please note, if some of your songs have publishing representation but others do not you can register your unpublished works with the MLC directly. To do this, you will need to create an account with the MLC, and become a member.
When will I start seeing payments from the MLC?
We expect to see the first reports from the MLC in late April, 2021. This report will include streaming activity that took place in the first quarter of 2021 (January, February, and March). After the first distribution, we expect the MLC to report monthly, but Pro Publishing royalty reports will still be posted on a quarterly basis.
The MLC has also been tasked with matching so-called 'Black Box' royalties. These are unclaimed royalties for which a publisher or writer is named, but cannot be traced by a collection society. Making sure your works are registered with the MLC is essential to ensure any unmatched royalties that are owed to you are collected. Please note, with CD Baby Pro Publishing, you don't need to do anything to receive these royalties. They are part of the money we already collect for you.
Does the MLC take a cut of my royalties?
No, the MLC will not take any percentage cut from the royalties they collect. The MLC is funded by the Digital Service Providers they service, and will remit 100% of the royalties they collect to copyright owners.
Does the MLC take the place of using CD Baby PRO Publishing?
No. At CD Baby, we believe that no song should go unpublished. Publishing royalties are nearly impossible to collect on your own as an independent songwriter. Even if you were to sign up directly with the MLC you would still be missing out on publishing performance and mechanical royalties from a number of sources. What does CD Baby Pro Publishing do?