The Music Modernization Act
In 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, The Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) of 2018. The Music Modernization Act changes the compulsory mechanical licensing process by introducing a blanket license system for digital service providers (DSPs) such as Apple Music and Spotify. The law also establishes a mechanical licensing collective to administer the blanket license, and a digital licensee coordinator to represent the DSP licensees.
The Mechanical Licensing Collective (The MLC, themlc.com) is an organization established by the Music Modernization Act that is charged with administering a blanket mechanical license for digital service providers (DSPs), and with developing a public musical works database for the music industry (meant to unify information). The MLC strives to ensure that creators are paid their fair share of mechanical royalties. It hopes to accomplish this by engaging creators to assist with the identification of unmatched works, through its Play Your Part initiative.
The Digital Licensee Coordinator (The DLC, digitallicenseecoordinator.org) represents digital service providers (DSPs) that offer music downloads and streams. It helps DSPs coordinate with The MLC and the Copyright Office
Effects of the Music Modernization Act
Starting in 2021, many digital service providers (DSPs) will operate under the blanket license offered by The MLC. For compulsory cover songs distributed to blanket-licensee DSPs only, an Easy Song mechanical license for interactive audio streams ONLY will no longer be required. However, in all other cases, a mechanical license (cover song license) like those offered by Easy Song Licensing is required. For example,YOU NEED an Easy Song Cover Song License for...
- distribution of physical products of any kind (CDs, Vinyl),
- distribution of digital downloads to the major music services Amazon, Apple, Bandcamp, or Soundcloud,
- distribution of interactive audio streams on your own website,
- distribution of ringtones on your own website,
- distribution of digital downloads; ringtones; or interactive audio streams to any digital service provider offering fewer than 5,000 unique sound recordings (USR) on their service that elects to NOT operate under the blanket license offered by The MLC;
- distribution of digital downloads to any digital service provider offering more than 5,000 unique sound recordings (USR) on their service that elects to NOT operate under the blanket license offered by The MLC; or
- any non-compulsory cover song clearance (derivatives, lyric changes, samples).
- Synch Rights - YouTube, Film, Digital Video, DVDs,
- Print Rights - Lyrics, Sheet Music, Display
- Grand Rights - All sorts of theatrical uses, and
- Master Rights - Any use of a copyrighted recording.
IMPORTANT: The MLC has shared a list of DSPs opting into the blanket license offered by The MLC. You can review that list here: https://themlc.com/dsp-notices. You must obtain licenses to distribute to all non-blanket licensee platforms. Also, Easy Song Licensing has confirmed with the DSPs that you must obtain mechanical licenses for digital downloads. In other words, the DSPs are not clearing digital download licensing for you.
With these changes, one thing will stay the same: Easy Song Licensing is here to help you, music creators and users. Our mission is better music for everyone and we believe life sounds better when artists thrive. To that end, here’s what you can continue to expect from Easy Song Licensing:
What is a digital service provider (DSP)?
A digital service provider (DSP) is any music service that offers digital downloads or streams. The most prominent DSPs are Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Tidal, and Deezer. Dozens of smaller DSPs exist as well.
What is a unique sound recording (USR)?
The MLC categorizes DSPs based on the number of unique sound recordings (USR) they make available on their service. Any DSP with over 5,000 USR is required by law to pay fees and report monthly to The MLC. DSPs with fewer than 5,000 USR need not report or pay MLC fees. However, all DSPs are required to either handle mechanical licensing themselves OR require pass-through licenses from users that distribute music to their service (such as the Cover Song Licenses Easy Song Licensing provides).
Are DSPs required by law to handle mechanical licensing (cover song licensing) for me?
No. DSPs have a few options:
Do I need a cover song license?
YES, if any of the following are true: