Now that the U.S. Copyright Office has designated the NMPA, NSAI, and SONA-backed Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) to begin implementation of the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the time has come for the music publishing industry to get its act together regarding data.
One of the MLC’s chief duties will be to create and maintain a database of music composition copyrights and their respective owners, allowing the group to collect mechanical royalties from digital service providers (DSPs) like Spotify and Apple Music and distribute them to the right parties.
The MLC will open its virtual doors on January 1, 2021, and it will have three years to attribute and distribute the current “black box” of unpaid royalties. If music publishers want their money quickly, they need to get their song metadata in top shape now.
Currently, publishing data is spread across multiple databases, each with a different structure, making cross-compatibility a major headache. In addition, many publishers do not have data on the various recordings of their compositions, and vice versa at record labels. Further, the quality of existing data leaves much to be desired. For example, one of my clients kept track of royalty payments by putting symbols after the writer’s name, or even worse, creating duplicates.