You do not need to create a legal entity, such as a Partnership, Corporation or Limited Liability Company (LLC), before becoming a Member of The MLC. Many self-administered songwriters join The MLC as individual Members. If you own a legal entity which acts as the music publisher of the shares of the musical works you own or control, then the entity should join The MLC as a publisher Member. You will need to decide which approach to take before you join The MLC. It is important that the name of a Member corresponds to the name associated with the specific shares of musical works registered with The MLC, as well as the tax ID provided for payment of digital mechanical royalties payable by The MLC for such shares of musical works. If this changes over time, you can update Member and musical works information in The MLC Portal.
Connect to Collect
The answer depends on your preference, your existing business relationships and any rights or restrictions, on your right to administer your shares of musical work(s).
Please read the answer to the question in this section titled "Who Needs to Join The MLC?" After reading "Who Needs to Join The MLC?", if you are a music publisher, administrator or self-administered songwriter, you should make sure you understand your relationship, if you have one, with a mechanical rights organization (known as a CMO) based in your country. For example, MCPS in the U.K., AMCOS in Australia, or SACM in Mexico may already be authorized to administer and collect your share of mechanical royalties for digital distributions of recordings of your musical works in the United States on your behalf. If you have a relationship with any such CMO, then the CMO will register your share of musical works and collect your share of the digital mechanical royalties payable for those works from The MLC.
If you would prefer to become a Member and collect royalties from The MLC directly, please examine the terms of your agreement with your local CMO, along with any other publishing agreements to which you may be a party to confirm your right to administer the share of musical works you seek to control. If you do not have a relationship with a CMO or other music publishing agent which includes collection of U.S. digital mechanical royalties on your behalf, you should join as a Member of The MLC and register your shares of musical works in order to collect digital mechanical royalties payable to you.
If you are a mechanical rights organization (CMO) based outside of the United States, and you have any questions about joining to become a Member of The MLC, please contact The MLC at email@example.com.
Generally, if you have an agreement with a publishing administration service, the service will register your works with The MLC and collect your share of royalties on your behalf. Please contact the service you have signed up with directly to confirm registration of your shares of musical works with The MLC. You can also look up your works using our Public Search to confirm that they have been registered and that your publishing administrator has claimed your shares.
Please note that if your shares of musical works are not subject to an agreement with a publisher, publishing administrator or publishing administration service and you retain administration rights, your share of these musical works are said to be “self-administered.” You will need to join The MLC as a self-administered songwriter and register your share of the works in order to collect your share of digital mechanical royalties payable by The MLC.
Please also keep in mind that some of the companies offering publishing administration services also offer other services such as digital sound recording distribution. Be sure you understand which companies and services you have signed up for.
If you need to give individuals associated with different parties access to data related to only their works, you will need to set up separate Members for each of those parties.
The MLC does not use these categorizations with respect to its Members. Only the individual or company which has the right to collect mechanical royalties from a licensee should become a Member of The MLC. Members of The MLC will most often be the music publisher, administrator, or ex-U.S. mechanical collective management organization (CMO). A self-administered songwriter, composer, or lyricist, may also become a Member of The MLC because that person is essentially acting as a music publisher or administrator on their own behalf, not because they are a writer of a musical work.
This is different from Performing Rights Organizations (PROs), where songwriters, composers, and lyricists join as writers, and may also join as publishers if they are self-administered. The MLC does not pay separate shares to writers and publishers.
Anyone who wishes to receive digital audio mechanical royalties from The MLC needs to become a Member of The MLC. This includes music publishers, publishing administrators, ex-U.S. collective management organizations (CMOs), and self-administered songwriters, composers and lyricists. Becoming a “Member” of The MLC is how you Connect to Collect.
Members of The MLC use The MLC Portal to register new musical works, review and update their existing musical works data and suggest matches of sound recording uses to their musical works.
Here’s who needs to Connect to Collect and become a Member of The MLC:
- Self-Administered Songwriters: Songwriters, composers and lyricists are “self-administered” if they have retained the right to register any of their own musical works with The MLC AND collect their own mechanical royalties either directly or through a business manager, accountant, lawyer, or other representative/agent.
- If you have assigned your rights to register your musical works and collect your mechanical royalties in the United States to a music publisher or administrator, you do not need to become a Member of The MLC. Your publisher or administrator will handle your registration and collection. If you work with a music publisher or administrator in any capacity, please check with that music publisher or administrator before becoming a Member of The MLC.
- Music Publishers and Publishing Administrators: Music publishers and publishing administrators need to become Members of The MLC in order to register the musical works they control with The MLC, review and update the data for those works, suggest matches of sound recording uses to their musical works, and collect mechanical royalties for those works.
- Ex-US Collective Management Organizations (CMOs): CMOs that collect mechanical royalties need to become Members of The MLC in order to register the musical works they control with The MLC, review and update the data for those works, suggest matches of sound recording uses to their musical works, and collect mechanical royalties for those works.
Yes, you need to become a Member of The MLC even if you are an affiliate of HFA. The MLC will pay you your digital mechanical royalties from U.S. DSPs operating under the blanket license. HFA will pay you other royalties based on your agreement with HFA.
The only way to receive digital audio mechanical royalties due to you from DSPs operating under the compulsory blanket mechanical license is to become a Member of The MLC. If you are entitled to receive these royalties, you either need to become a Member of The MLC, or authorize a publisher, publishing administrator, or ex-U.S. collective management organization (CMO) to collect these royalties from The MLC on your behalf.
There is no cost to become a Member of The MLC.
Becoming a Member of The MLC does not replace other memberships or membership activities.
Songwriters, composers, lyricists, music publishers and administrators still need to join a performing rights organization (PRO) in order to collect their respective writer and publisher shares of musical works public performance royalties. For more information, please visit the websites for the following PROs in the United States: ASCAP, BMI, GMR, SESAC, and AllTrack.
Recording artists and record companies do not need to join The MLC but do need to join SoundExchange in order to receive sound recording digital performance royalties. For more information, click to visit the website for SoundExchange. If you are a non-featured artist on sound recordings, you may consider joining the Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund. For more information, click to visit this website: IPRD Fund
Songwriters, composers, and lyricists who have retained the right to register any of their own musical works with The MLC AND collect their own mechanical royalties either directly or through a business manager, accountant, lawyer or other representative/agent, should become Members of The MLC. However, they should only register the musical works which are not administered by another party with The MLC. The musical works which are administered by another party should be registered with The MLC by that party (e.g., a music publisher or administrator).
The answer depends on which parties have the right to register the co-written musical work with The MLC and collect the mechanical royalties. If co-writers create a legal entity, which they co-own, and which has been assigned the right to register the co-written musical work with The MLC, and collect the related mechanical royalties, then only the legal entity needs to become a Member. If each co-writer has retained their right to register musical works with The MLC and collect their own mechanical royalties, then each co-writer needs to become a Member of The MLC.