The Music Modernization Act and the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC)
What is the Music Modernization Act?
Lauded as a long-overdue way to ensure songwriters are adequately paid by streaming platforms, the MMA, signed into law in 2018, will make key changes to copyright law. In a nutshell, the MMA features three reforms that artists and songwriters should be aware of. The MMA:
- Closes the “pre-72 loophole.”
- Creates the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC).
- Codifies the practice of “Letters of Direction” for those who want to split royalties between creative partners.
Closing the pre-72 loophole will protect songwriters who recorded their musical works before 1972. Until now, those artists were left unprotected and therefore unable to collect royalties.
The creation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is perhaps the most important part of this law. This new organization will be responsible for collecting and distributing royalty payments to copyright owners: songwriters and publishers. It will not be responsible for distributing statutory royalties that are owed to producers, record labels or performers. For those, SoundExchange is still responsible.
And lastly, the MMA codifies the long-practice of “Letters of Direction (LOD),” which enables songwriters to spit royalties among “creative participants.” This enables the MLC to also distribute digital royalties among various partners.
How to get ready
The Music Modernization Act (MMA) is set to go into effect January 1, 2021. So what can you do to get ready? Get organized. Get registered. Get paid.
- Get organized. Regardless of where you are in your music career, you’re going to want to get organized. This means determining who owns what and who will get paid. For some artists, it might just be you, the songwriter. But for others, there might be discussions that need to be had to make sure all creative partners are included. The use of LODs might be necessary.Next is to upload your songs into the MLC system, which may be a one-day project or a multi-day nightmare. Either way, you can’t get paid, if you don’t do the leg-work of adding your musical works into their system.
- Get registered. Once you’ve organized your life, you’re ready to register with the MLC at www.themlc.com.
Remember, registering with the MLC does not bypass the need to register with the Copyright office, which adds additional protections for your musical works.
- Get paid. The MLC Portal is the tool you will need to use to receive your payments and get paid!
Check out these resources for more information.