Streaming services pay out $424 million in unmatched royalties to MLC

A number of streaming services have paid out $424,38 million in unmatched royalties to the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). Alongside these funds the streaming services provided data reports to help identify where the royalties need to go. This is the first time streaming services pay out such a high amount of unmatched royalties to the MLC since its creation on the first of January.

The royalties came from a total of 20 streaming services including Spotify, Amazon Music and Google/YouTube. The MLC now has to take the data supplied by the streaming services to distribute the royalties to their rightful copyright holders, songwriters and publishers. For this the MLC is setting up a public database and is giving their registered members the ability to submit royalty claims. Due to the new Music Modernisation Act, the MLC must distribute the unmatched royalties to the right holder within two years. The Music Moderation Act was implemented in 2018 and created the Mechanical Licensing Collective. The MLC is paid for by streaming services via blanket licenses in return for improved payments to songwriters and copyright owners. Even though the bill passed in 2018, the MLC was only officially created on the first of January 2021.

With over $163 million, Apple Music transferred the most money to the MLC, followed by Spotify with $152 million. Amazon, transferred $42 million, with Google/YouTube sending in $32 million in royalties. In total the streaming services transferred $424,384,787 to the MLC.

Unmatched royalties are unclaimed royalties for which a copyright holder is named, but the collection society can’t be traced. This often happens when an artists music is sold or played abroad, where they are not registered with a collection agency.

National Music Publishers Association president and CEO David Israelite called the payment is a “massive win” for rights holders, he continued:

“Songwriters and music publishers have for years fought to ensure they were paid accurately and fully by digital streaming services. 'Unmatched money’ has plagued the industry and today, thanks to the Music Modernization Act, we know that it amounts to just under $425 million—not including money previously paid out in multiple million-dollar settlements.”

Source: Complex | CMU