Most artists (and even some labels) have no idea what a mechanical license is. Most likely, Spotify isn’t paying it to you.
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Jeff Price is one of the music industry’s foremost experts on music copyright and artist royalties. He was a cofounder at Tunecore and more recently started a company called Audiam, which is focused on mechanical rights licensing and collection and was acquired by SOCAN back in 2016.
He’s also a huge critic of Spotify and the recently-passed Music Modernization Act (MMA). That’s probably a gross understatement.
One reason is that there’s actually another streaming royalty that is owed to most artists and songwriters — they just don’t know about it. In our latest Digital Music News Podcast episode, Jeff explains the sordid history of how this happened. But he also explains how to set yourself up to get paid on potentially years of unpaid royalties.
“So if any of you are out there listening to this, you’re like, ‘Wait a second, you’re telling me that I wrote a song and I recorded my own song. I went to Distrokid or CD Baby or Tunecore, and they distributed this into Spotify. And I know it’s streamed, because I’m getting money from CD Baby, Tunecore, or Distrokid. You mean there’s a second royalty that is owed to me, that wasn’t given to CD Baby, Tunecore, or Distrokid?'”
“The answer is yes, there is a second separate royalty owed to you that Spotify was supposed to pay. And then if you’re like, ‘Why am I not getting it?’ And the answer is because this ties into the MMA, the Music Modernization Act.”
Price blames the glaring omission on corrupt legislators and shady music companies. He says this is criminal — but he also knows how to navigate the complexities of both the MMA and the agency it created.
That agency, called the Mechanical Licensing Collective, or MLC, is tasked with disbursing mechanical royalties to songwriters and publishers. It all sets sail in early 2021 — which means the smaller artist, label, and publisher can get paid. As long as they know how to play this game.
So how do you find out how to claim your missing royalties, and more importantly, get paid?
Here’s everything you need to know in our latest podcast.