Exclusive: Microsoft Groove Is Blocking All Songs Lacking Mechanical Licenses

Uploading a Song on Microsoft Groove? Prepare to Wait 3 Months For Pay

Karl-Ludwig Poggemann (CC by 2.0)

Looking to upload your latest music to Microsoft Groove?  The tech giant is quietly blocking all new releases lacking full mechanical licensing.

Almost one year ago today, Spotify and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) reached a landmark agreement. Spotify, along with a $5 million fine, would plan to ensure all works had mechanical licenses cleared.

The company, as well as other streamers, essentially lacked proper mechanical licenses.  In many cases, they were never even recognized, much less paid.

The NMPA-structured agreement would include mechanisms to improve processors for identifying and compensating writers and distributing royalties.  This would entail the construction of a matching interface created and maintained by Spotify.  The NMPA also pointed out that only publishers and songwriters participating in the settlement would receive matched funds, even amounts unclaimed by non-participating copyright owners.

The Swedish streamer also established a large bonus compensation fund.

So, what does this have to do with Microsoft Groove?

According to an anonymous reader, Microsoft Groove has blocked all new releases from distributors, at least without full mechanical licensing.  Since January 2016, to have a new release streamed, you have to register them through Music Reports Inc.

After writing to TuneCore, the distribution service responded with the following,

“Hey [anonymous],

I apologize for any confusion or miscommunication on my part. Please note that your sound recording(s) may not be available for streaming until Groove is able to license certain rights in the underlying musical composition(s).  Customers can register their catalogs with Music Reports… which provides clearance services to stores.

I apologize for any inconvenience.

Please let us know if you have any other questions. We are here to help!”

After writing to Music Reports, the rights administration platform said that clearing releases can take up to a quarter.  After registering, Groove will stream the track.  So you gotta wait three months.

As of writing, all release from distributors released January 2017 onwards are unavailable for streaming.  There’s no word yet on why the sudden change, or if the change remains permanent.

Microsoft has yet to officially acknowledge the change.

5 Responses

  1. Momo

    This is great info. Recently had a release which Groove did not play due to ‘only available for purchase at the request of the copyright holder’. Was trying to get to the bottom of this with Tunecore – seems some of their helpdesk folk are not aware of this issue.

  2. Starving Artist

    I haven’t seen a penny in royalties from Groove, and I know for a fact songs of mine were streamed many times when this article came out, as friends and myself were streaming each other’s songs. Were they not paying royalties based on streams from trial accounts?

    • Vitne

      I have found that Microsoft reports royalties often, and far more often than many other services. I’d say Microsoft, Apple and Spotify are all quite quick. But the mechanical royalty is different from what you’d see in your CD Baby reports. This whole situation has been confusing, so it’s nice to find this stating the reason in clear terms. I’ve spoken with MS about this whole thing, and if you are an independent artist, you need to make sure you are on top of Music Reports. This doesn’t only apply to Groove, mind you. More and more services are using them. I have noticed missing songs from some artists on other services too.

  3. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this update as I was wondering why a number my clients’ new works were automatically greyed out this year. Do you know if registering songs with Music Reports, Inc. would conflict with current publishing administrator agreements such as Songtrust or TuneCore Publishing?

    • Vitne

      I’m registered with SongTrust and from what I can tell, if I have registered the song in SongTrust (and it’s registration is noted as “complete” IN SongTrust), the songs don’t show up in Music Reports (meaning they have taken care of it). But sometimes, depending on some things, they will show up. Maybe if you have a song co-written with someone else. Or maybe if the registration via SongTrust hasn’t gone fully through yet. In any case, it shouldn’t hurt to make a Music Reports account and search your songs and have them registered if they appear.