Billboard: The MLC Has Paid Out $1.5B in Streaming Royalties to Songwriters and Publishers

In the Mechanical Licensing Collective’s (The MLC) third annual membership meeting, the Nashville-based non-profit organization revealed that it has distributed $1.5 billion in total royalties to date to songwriters and publishers, up by about $500 million from March.

This year marked the Music Modernization Act‘s fifth anniversary since passing into law — the landmark occasion that instructed the MLC’s formation. As part of the law, a new blanket license was created for musical work (also known as “song” or “composition”) mechanical royalties that greatly simplified music licensing for digital services like Spotify and Apple Music, among others.

The previous, piece-meal system was not only complicated for the services — it also led to a growing pool of over $400 million in streaming royalties that were unallocated because the compositions’ owners couldn’t be found. (This is colloquially known in the business as “black box” money, although the MLC uses the term “historical unmatched royalties.”) The MLC was tasked to implement and administer this new blanket license and distribute the money in this stagnant royalty pool. It officially opened its doors on Jan. 1, 2021.

According to its latest report, The MLC has completed 31 monthly royalty distributions to date, each one of them completed on time or early. Its match rate for all royalties processed through October is also up 1% since their last reporting in March, rising from 89% to 90%. According to the MLC, the match rate represented the percentage of total royalties processed that were able to match to a registered work in their database.

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