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What’s MLC? Are they the same as SESAC, BMI and ASCAP? #AskAmanda

What’s MLC? Are they the same as SESAC, BMI and ASCAP? #AskAmanda

- Question submitted by Mehuman

The MLC is an organization that collects the digital mechanical royalty for songwriters and music publishers whenever songs are played on the internet.

The name “The MLC” is a corporate name that stands for “The Mechanical Licensing Collective.”

The company was created to bid for the job designated by U.S. Congress when they passed the Music Modernization Act a few years back.

The company “The MLC” won over another group who called themselves the AMLC – "American Music Licensing Collective,” and now “The MLC” has the job of collecting, distributing and accounting to songwriters and publishers for all the music that is streamed on the internet.

The MLC is different from SESAC, BMI and ASCAP.

The MLC only handles mechanical royalty.

SESAC, BMI and ASCAP are performing rights societies.

In addition, ASCAP and BMI are performing rights organizations in the United States that are prevented by law (consent decrees) from collecting and distributing mechanical royalties.

This is relevant, because elsewhere in the world, digital streaming royalty is seen as a combination of part performing right and part mechanical right, and both are handled by the same organization.

Since our system prevents two of the major performing rights organizations from collecting mechanical royalty, the problem of dividing up the total royalty earned from digital streaming for songwriters and music publishers is made worse.

SESAC is also a performing rights organization in the United States and it is not prevented by law from collecting and distributing mechanical royalties, because they are not bound by consent decrees.

In fact, SESAC purchased the largest U.S. based mechanical rights organization called Harry Fox Agency (HFA) from the NMPA (National Music Publishers Association) a few years ago, and currently handles the mechanical licensing for Songfile, HFA’s licensing portal for mechanical licensing.

NMPA are among the trade organizations (including NSAI) that designated the current company “The MLC” which won the bid to handle all the mechanical royalty payments coming from all the digital music retailers on behalf of all songwriters and music publishers.

Currently, if you are receiving your mechanical royalties that come from digital streaming of your music online, then you are either signed up as an individual member of The MLC, or you receive your royalty through your music publisher or administrator who gets it from The MLC.

If you have not yet signed up with The MLC, and you have compositions that are not represented by a music publisher or administrator, you will need to sign up as a member on your own. You will need to also sign up as a member of ASCAP or BMI, or seek an invitation to join SESAC through a rep or trusted colleague.

Please note that recently SESAC have removed many independent writers from their rosters, even those who have previously won SESAC awards. Because digital performance royalties are so small, often less than $0.001 per stream, more and more companies are raising their minimum earnings requirements to handle administrative and music publishing duties.

As one long time music industry veteran put it, “It used to be worth it to print out the royalty statements on your hits. Now the ink and paper costs more than you make.”

Digital streaming is viewed by the industry as a way to find trends and locate fan base targets for record labels and artists.

Using entrepreneurial skills to secure licensing in film or television, and selling tickets, merchandise and physical music are still vital parts of most sustainable careers in the new music business.


Join the discussion in the Songpreneurs Leadership Community. Apply here >>

Purchase the plain English guide to understanding and employing your bundle of rights as a new music business entrepreneur in our red workbook – Getting Started the Right Way In the New Millennium of Music Business.


Other reading around the web about The MLC -

The MLC Home Page | Mechanical Licensing Collective

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) on Copyright Alliance website link:

@Northmusicgroup Calls Out The MLC's Ability To Make "Law" Through Business Rules That Hurt Songwriters and Skew the Black Box To Benefit Majors - Artist Rights Watch by Chris Castle link:


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