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How To Collect Digital Mechanical Royalties: Step by Step


What Are Mechanical Royalties?


Mechanical royalties are the monies generated when a song is digitally streamed, downloaded, or manufactured in a physical format. Originally, back in 1909 when the term was developed, it referenced when a song was “mechanically” reproduced to a physical form of consumption. However, with the advent of digitization, the term has since expanded to include digital reproductions, thanks to the Music Modernization Act (MMA).


What Is The Music Modernization Act?


The MMA is an important factor in the discussion of mechanical royalties considering it is the first time the law addressed the digital consumption of music and how to properly pay creators for digitally generated mechanical royalties. The MMA was passed in 2018, and with it, many effects were put into place to better organize the music royalty ecosystem.


One of the outcomes of the act was the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC). The MLC is an organization birthed in 2019 from the MMA, funded by the Digital Streaming Platforms (DSPs) to administer blanket mechanical licenses to all DSPs (who have opted in). The MLC has a free-to-use database where you register your music to in turn receive mechanical royalties from DSPs where your music has been streamed.


Since the site went live in 2021, the MLC has collected $424.38 million in accrued historical unmatched royalties from DSPs to be paid out to creators from the MLC. In order for creators to receive these mechanical royalties, they must know how to claim their catalog with the MLC.


Follow These 6 Steps To Register For Your Digital Mechanical Royalties


1. Sign Up


To be considered for MLC registration, you must be the owning and controlling party of your mechanical royalties. Most times, unless you are signed to an administrator, label, or publisher, songwriters and lyricists are the owners of this copyright, acting as a self-administered publishers on their own behalf.

After you have confirmed you own and control the mechanical royalties for your works, continue filling out all the registration information to sign up for the portal!




2. Access Your Dashboard


The next thing you need to do is create a member and access your dashboard. You can add yourself and/or a trusted member as a member by clicking Add Member. Once you have added yourself or a trusted party as a member, you are directed to the dashboard pictured below, which is the home for all your MLC works and tasks.



3. Register Works - Individually


You are able to register individually or in bulk. If you only have a few works to register (less than 10), registering individually will be the easier option for you. They offer two different ways to register information individually, which I talk about in step 3.2.



3.1 Search


Before registering any new work, there is an option to search the MLC catalog to see if the work has already been registered. If your work appears in the search, go ahead and continue to the claiming process. If it doesn’t, click “Create New Work” in the bottom right-hand corner and keep going to step 3.2.



3.2 Register New Work


The MLC offers two ways to register new work; With a form and with the Wizard. Essentially, both require the same information, however, the Wizard walks you through the process step by step while the form asks for the information all at once with no additional guidance. Below is a screenshot of the form, which includes all the information required to register an individual work, regardless of if you choose to register with the Wizard or the form.



4. Register Works - Bulk


If you have 10+ works to register, I recommend doing it in bulk. Once you’ve gone through the bulk process once, you will better understand it and be able to do it quickly for all future works. For now, follow these instructions to get started!



4. 1 Download Template


After you click Register Bulk Works, it brings you to the page below. This is where you both download and upload the template file for submission. It also has helpful tips to remember when formatting.



4.2 The Template


Once you’ve downloaded the template, this is part of the spreadsheet you will see. Don’t let it overwhelm you; Just start with one song and fill out each column that you can, then go back to search and collect the information you are missing.


Columns 1-9:


Columns 10-17:


Columns 18-24:


4.3 The Codes


Wondering what each column means? Don’t worry! The MLC has provided definitions and codes for each piece of information. At the bottom of your spreadsheet, click the other tabs to find out what to enter in each column.



5. Lessons Learned


The MLC offers a Music Organization Worksheet to explain the information they need and how to find it. This can be helpful when you’re still in the creation process; Document all the information down on the worksheet when you’re in the studio so when you go to register it, it is ready to go for you!


I have also learned some tips and tricks through the trial and error process of registering for my clients. Below are bullet points sent to me from the MLC support team to remember when submitting your form.

  • “Please be sure to add all information on the Format page of the file instead of adding a new page before the Format sheet. You'll just remove the template information that is already there, and add your own.

  • When copying and pasting information, please make sure that it is not done in a way that would remove the separation of cells on the spreadsheet.

  • Please also be sure to add information for each work or title. Like if you have multiple AKA Titles for a work, please ensure you have also added the publisher name, Writer Role Code, and writer name for the different AKA Titles.

  • When a value for a work under a field with a cross symbol is provided, a value for the corresponding field with the same symbol is also required (eg. when an Administrator Name is provided, an Administrator IPI Number is required, and vice versa).”


If you have any questions or issues during this process, rely on the support team! From my experience, they are very responsive and helpful.


6. Registration History


The status of your registration will be here, on your registration history page. It continuously updates depending on the status of your registration!



Need Help With Your Registration? Contact GARB Today!


The MLC has a plethora of educational resources on its website to assist all creatives along this process. However, even with that assistance, it can get tricky.


I am hopeful that this guide can get you started and familiar with the platform and the company so you can start getting your part of the $424 million collected! If you have any questions or need any help with this process, feel free to schedule a free consultation appointment for us to discuss together!




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