The MLC Pulls an Oprah as Everyone Gets Audited—Including Spotify, Apple Music & YouTube

The MLC audits major DSPs
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The MLC audits major DSPs
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Photo Credit: The MLC

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) has issued notices of intent to conduct audits of digital service providers (DSPs) that started operating under the compulsory blanket license administered by The MLC in 2021. Here’s the latest.

The audit period includes usage under the blanket license between January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023. That includes the first full three years of The MLC’s full operations after its establishment by the Music Modernization Act. As part of its duties, The MLC sent audit notices to both the United States Copyright Office and DSPs as part of its right to conduct audits to ensure DSPs have accurately reported and paid royalties.

“Conducting audits represents an additional way that The MLC can ensure the accuracy of the usage reports and royalty payments submitted by DSPs,” the notice says. In addition to audits, The MLC already takes a number of steps to ensure that DSPs are reporting accurate usage of their music—including scrutinizing the monthly usage reports from music streaming services. Members of The MLC will not bear any of the audit costs, which will be covered by the organization’s operational budget.

Should an audit reveal an underpayment of any amount, The MLC will distribute the full amount of any recovery to the impacted rights holders—without deducting any audit costs or fees.

“Ensuring DSPs have reported royalties accurately is one of The MLC’s statutory responsibilities under the MMA,” adds Kris Ahrend, CEO of The MLC. “The MLC has tapped music industry audit veteran, Jane Bushmaker, a member of The MLC’s Analytics & Automation team, to oversee DSP audits, which will be conducted by experienced outside audit firms.”

“The MLC’s audit right is a first in the 115-year history of the U.S. compulsory mechanical license and provides enhanced protection for songwriters and music publishers. The audit notices filed by The MLC mark the beginning of its fulfillment of this important function.”

It’s worth noting that Bridgeport Music filed an audit of the MLC from Bridgeport Music in the same time period (Jan. 1, 2021—Dec. 31, 2023). As Bridgeport seeks to audit the last three years of royalty administration under The MLC, it looks like the licensing collective may be getting its house in order by auditing the DSPs themselves. Here’s a peek at the full list of DSPs who received an audit notice.

  • Amazon Media Venture LLC (AMP)
  • Amazon.com Services LLC (Amazon Music)
  • Anghami FZ LLC (Anghami)
  • Appcompanist, LLC (Appcompanist)
  • Apple Inc. (Apple Music)
  • Artist Technology Group DBA PANTHR Music (PANTHR Music)
  • Audiomack Inc. (Audiomack)
  • Avail LLC (The Cover Foundry)
  • Beatport LLC (Beatport)
  • Bill Graham Archives, LLC (Wolfgang’s Music)
  • Boxine GmbH (Tonies)
  • Choral Tracks LLC (Choral Tracks)
  • Classical Archives, LLC (Classical Archives)
  • Da Capo Music, LLC (Yes! Fitness Music)
  • Deezer S.A. (Deezer)
  • Fan Label, LLC (FanLabel)
  • Global Tel*Link Corporation (GTL)
  • Google, LLC (Google Play Music/YouTube)
  • GrooveFox Inc. (GrooveFox)
  • IDAGIO GmbH (Idagio)
  • iHeartMedia + Entertainment, Inc. (iHeart Radio)
  • M&M Media, Inc. (Trebel)
  • Midwest Tape, LLC (hoopla)
  • Mixcloud Ltd (Mixcloud)
  • MONKINGME S.L. (MonkingMe)
  • Music Choice (Music Choice)
  • Napster Group PLC (Napster)
  • Naxos Digital Services US Inc. (NAXOS)
  • Nugs.net Enterprises, Inc. (Nugs.net)
  • Pacemaker Music AB (Pacemaker)
  • Pandora Media, LLC (Pandora)
  • PianoTrax LLC (PianoTrax)
  • Power Music, Inc. (Power Music)
  • PRIMEPHONIC B.V. (Primephonic)
  • Recisio SAS (Karaoke Version)
  • Saavn Media Limited (Jiosaavn)
  • Securus Technologies, LLC (Securus)
  • Slacker, Inc. (Slacker/LiveXLive)
  • Smithsonian Institution (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)
  • Sonos, Inc. (Sonos)
  • SoundCloud Operations Inc. (Soundcloud)
  • Spotify USA Inc. (Spotify)
  • TIDAL Music AS (Tidal)
  • Transsnet Music Limited (Boomplay)
  • TRIBL, LLC (Tribl)
  • Ultimate Guitar USA LLC (GuitarBackingTrack.com)
  • Weav Music, Inc. (Weav Run)
  • XANDRIE USA (QOBUZ)
  • Yoto Ltd (Yoto)