Here’s Everything Rightsholders Need to Know About The MLC

two men performing music with the MLC logo

two men performing music with the MLC logo

+ Recording and mixing your songs at home? Grammy-winning artist Kimbra explores how to harness the full creative potential of your music in her personal online course!

By Ellen Truley of The MLC

If you’re a songwriter or other creator with music available for streaming and downloads through digital service providers (DSPs) like Spotify and Apple Music, there’s one very important question you should be asking yourself: are you getting all of the money you have earned for the use of your music by those services?

If the answer is “no” – or you’re not sure – it’s time to get to know The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC).

Established by the Music Modernization Act of 2018 (MMA), The MLC’s mission is simple: to ensure rightsholders like you receive all of the digital audio mechanical royalties they’re owed for streams and downloads of their music. And The MLC began fulfilling that mission in a big way during its first official year of operations in 2021, distributing more than $280 million in royalties to its membership of self-administered songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers.

With even more royalties to be distributed by The MLC this year, you don’t want to miss out on the money you have earned and deserve. Read on to learn a handful of key details you should know about The MLC and why you might want to consider joining.

But before you do, if you’d like to learn a bit more about all the different royalties you’re eligible to collect as an artist, and how to collect them, take a look at our free, in-depth course with DIY music industry insider, Ari Herstand, How to Get All the Royalties You Never Knew Existed. Check it out!

Soundfly Royalties course ad

Digital Audio Blanket Mechanical Royalties Are Only Available Through The MLC

The MMA designated The MLC to be the exclusive administrator of a new compulsory (i.e., “blanket”) license that DSPs can secure to cover all of the music they make available on their platforms. The MLC is solely responsible for both collecting the royalties due under the blanket license each month and distributing those royalties to the correct rightsholders.

That means that digital audio mechanical royalties for streaming and downloads now flow through The MLC, bringing greater efficiency and transparency to mechanical licensing and helping more rightsholders get paid.

Only MLC Members Can Collect Blanket Royalties — Joining The MLC Is FREE

In the new mechanical licensing landscape brought about by the MMA, the only way rightsholders can receive their share of the blanket royalties that The MLC collects each month from DSPs operating under blanket licenses is to join The MLC.

Becoming a member of The MLC will cost you nothing, because by law all of The MLC’s services are provided free of charge. And since DSPs are required under the MMA to pay all of The MLC’s operating costs, The MLC is able to pass along 100 percent of the royalties it collects from DSPs directly to its members. The MLC does not impose any kind of administrative fee on its royalty distributions.

One important note: if you’re a self-administered (also referred to as “self-published” or “independent”) songwriter, composer or lyricist, you must join The MLC directly. But if you are affiliated with a music publisher or administrator, you will not need to join The MLC directly. Those groups have likely already become members and will collect any royalties from The MLC on your behalf.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “Know Your Rights: A Simple Guide to Digital Royalties.”

Digital Audio Mechanical Royalties Are All The MLC Does

There are a few different types of royalty streams that are available to songwriters and other creators but The MLC only handles digital audio mechanical royalties. When you join The MLC, doing so does not replace any affiliations or memberships you may have with performance rights organizations, distributors, aggregators and similar groups that administer the other kinds of royalties you can collect.

Good Data Equals Dollars

The MLC is a data-driven rights organization and as a member, the best way you can position yourself to receive all of the royalties you’re owed is adopt a strong commitment to data quality. That means making sure you register complete and accurate musical works data once you’ve joined The MLC and promptly registering new songs whenever you add them to your catalog. It also involves regularly checking the works you’ve registered with The MLC, because any errors in your data could delay your royalty payments.

On The MLC’s website, you’ll find resources like detailed FAQs and archived webinars that explain the key data points and identifier codes you’ll need to include in your registrations, and you can always use the free Public Search feature on the website to check your musical works in The MLC’s database.

+ Read more on Flypaper: “How to Set Up a Publishing Company With Your PRO.”

The MLC Prioritizes Outstanding Customer Service

Service is one of The MLC’s four guiding principles and becoming a member includes access to some of the best customer service in the industry. The MLC’s Support Team is available by phone, email or online chat 12 hours a day, five days a week and is trained to address any questions current or prospective members have about MLC membership, musical works registrations, royalty statements and more.

Start to ensure that you’re receiving all of the royalties you deserve.

Don’t stop here!

Find out once and for all how streaming and sales royalties work — and how to get the money you deserve — in Soundfly’s free course with Ari Herstand, How to Get All the Royalties You Never Knew Existed

Ellen Truley serves as Chief Marketing Officer for The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC), where she leverages her wealth of experience in marketing, brand strategy, digital initiatives, advertising and public relations to direct a robust and proactive communications operation that engages both the music community and the public at large. 

Join our Mailing List

We offer creative courses, articles, podcast episodes, and one-on-one mentorship for curious musicians. Stay up to date!

two young people talking at a mixing desk

Hustle

The Art of Networking in the Music Industry

Here's our ultimate guide to building your relationships and support network in an industry that can be all too cruel to the artists within.

closeup of guitarist writing on paper

Hustle

Become Your Tax Filer’s Favorite Artist Client (the Foolproof Way)

Cover your bases with the audit-friendly way to keep track of your business from an auditor. No accounting background? No problem.

singer in the studio with a full band

Hustle

How to Create a Minimum Viable Brand (MVB) to Attract Fans

Based on a concept from The Lean Startup, using the MVB perspective can be an enormous asset for growing your indie music brand.