Following ‘Black Box’ Scrutiny, the MLC Taps Jaxsta, Salt, Pex, and Others to Help Match Royalties

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The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has officially announced a “Supplemental Matching Network,” or, as its name suggests, an initiative designed to enhance the MLC’s royalty-matching capabilities.

The Nashville-headquartered Mechanical Licensing Collective just recently unveiled the Supplemental Matching Network, centering on partnerships with five “complementary” companies. For background, the MLC has faced considerable scrutiny, relating to a variety of topics, since its formation.

But the criticism took a different turn towards 2023’s beginning, when it emerged that the entity had accumulated a massive tranche of unmatched royalties – or the very compensation that it was designed to forward to the appropriate songwriters, publishers, and other rightsholders.

Although the MLC says its total distributions have surpassed $1.5 billion, several organizations and lawmakers have voiced questions and concerns about the sizable “Black Box” royalties at hand. Topics of particular interest include the precise amount of involved capital and, perhaps more pressingly, exactly how the payments would be distributed if they remained unmatched.

On the latter front, reports have indicated that unmatchable MLC royalties could simply be distributed to rightsholders based upon market share – a possibility that would somewhat astonishingly put huge checks in the pockets of major publishers for works they don’t own.

Enter the aforementioned Supplemental Matching Network, the five companies behind which “will provide data matching services to complement and enhance The MLC’s existing” capabilities, according to the entity.

The MLC says it chose these businesses – London-based Blokur, credits database Jaxsta (now part of the overarching Vinyl Group), Too Lost-partnered Pex, Session parent Salt, and SoundExchange’s SX Works – based upon the results of a “comprehensive selection process” that encompassed pilot programs.

“We conducted an extensive due diligence process to select the initial set of vendors for our Supplemental Matching Network,” elaborated MLC head of analytics and automation Andrew Mitchell.

“These vendors bring complementary technologies and capabilities that can be effectively leveraged to serve our members. This network reflects our ongoing commitment to evolve in innovative ways to best achieve The MLC’s mission,” concluded the Warner Music vet Mitchell.

With these “innovative ways to best” match royalties now including inviting proper businesses into the fold, the MLC has also left the door open to expand the Supplemental Matching Network moving forward.

“The MLC may adjust the scope of services in the Supplemental Matching Network as needed to meet future and evolving needs, including engaging additional vendors in the future if appropriate,” the entity spelled out.