What is the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC)?

The MLC will establish a publicly accessible database containing information relating to musical works and their owners, aimed at providing a more streamlined approach to collecting mechanical royalties.

What is the MLC?

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is a nonprofit organization created in 2019 by the Music Modernization Act (MMA) to administer blanket mechanical licences to eligible streaming services, and pay the resulting royalties to songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers. It is designated by the US Copyright office (USCO), and endorsed by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Songwriters of North America (SONA).

Do I need to register my works with the MLC if I’m already with Songtrust?

No. If you're signed up with Songtrust, we register your songs with the MLC on your behalf, along with registration at local societies and other pay sources in the US and in more than 215 countries and territories around the world. 

What kinds of royalties does the MLC collect?

The MLC covers a limited scope of US only services whose activities are covered under section 115 of the Copyright Act. This means that the MLC will only collect and pay mechanical interactive streaming royalties generated by eligible Digital Service Providers (DSPs) including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal, and others. 

What kinds of royalties does the MLC NOT collect?

The MLC does not collect or distribute royalties for any of the following usage types:

  • Non-interactive streaming (e.g. online radio)
  • Public performance of any kind (e.g. live, radio, TV)
  • Audio visual (e.g. YouTube, TikTok, Amazon)
  • Synch
  • Lyrics, lyric stickers (e.g. Instagram)
  • Physical sales
  • Any non-US generated usages

However, Songtrust is well placed to ensure that our clients continue to receive royalties from the above types of usages via our network of more than 215 pay-sources.

What countries and territories does the MLC collect from?

Only the United States. It does not collect mechanical royalties generated outside of the US.

Who operates and oversees the MLC? 

The MLC is a nonprofit organization designated by the U.S. Copyright Office. The MLC’s board of directors includes ten music publishing executives and three songwriters; Kara DioGuardi, Oak Felder, and Kevin Kadish. The MLC has three advisory committees; the Operations Advisory Committee where Songtrust co-founder Joe Conyers III serves, the Dispute Resolution Committee where Songtrust Global Head of Rights Management Operations, Sean McGraw serves, as well as an Unclaimed Royalties Oversight Committee.

Why was the MLC founded?

The MLC was founded to administer blanket mechanical licenses to eligible DSPs. Under these licenses, the MLC invoices DSPs and then distributes mechanical royalties to rights holders based on interactive streaming usages on these services.

How does the MLC work?

The MLC issues and administers blanket mechanical licenses to interactive streaming services in the United States that are eligible to receive one. It then collects the royalties due under those licenses from the digital service providers and pays them to the appropriate songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers. 

When will it become fully operational?

January 2021 is the publicly stated target timeframe.

What is the cost of using MLC and who is funding it?

Songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers do not pay to use the MLC. By law, the digital services that use the MLC will proportionally fund the MLC’s startup costs of $33.5 million and first-year operational budget of $28.5 million. Following the first year of operation, each subsequent year’s funding requirements will be reassessed and funded by the DSPs. 

Does the MLC offer any type of distribution of my music?


You can read through our other FAQs here, as well as our Glossary on music industry terms here. We also have a blog post covering the timeline of the Music Modernization Act, which you can read here.

This article was last updated on December 17, 2020. The MLC is set to become fully operational on January 1st, 2021.


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