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Copyright Office Names Mechanical Licensing Collective
Ahead of schedule, the U.S. Copyright Office chooses who will run the MLC and recognizes the Academy's helpful input through the selection process
The day after Independence Day saw a surprise from the U.S. Copyright Office. In accordance with the Music Modernization Act (MMA), the Office made its designation for the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC), choosing Mechanical Licensing Collective, Inc. (MLCI) to manage the new blanket mechanical license and handle royalty collection and distribution as established by the MMA. Under the statute, the designation was due on July 9.
The MLCI, the group submission led by led by the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and the Songwriters of North America (SONA), ultimately prevailed over a competing proposal known as the American Music Licensing Collective (AMLC). In making the designation, the Copyright Office concludes that the "AMLC’s goals and principles are laudable, and its submission includes a number of ideas that should be given further consideration," but that ultimately "MLCI’s planning and organizational detail provide a more reliable basis for concluding that it will be able to meet the MLC’s administrative obligations." The MLC will begin issuing the new license in January 2021.
The 88-page Final Rule released by the Copyright Office also includes the designation for the Digital Licensing Coordinator (DLC), the entity that will represent the interests of the digital streaming services that use the new blanket license. Only one candidate, which includes representatives from Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Google, and Pandora, was submitted for consideration as the DLC.
Along with their ahead-of-schedule designation, the Copyright Office cited the Recording Academy's comments frequently in its Final Rule, noting how the Academy’s input informed its decision-making process. In the final analysis of the determination, the Copyright Office buttresses its conclusion by recognizing that “the Recording Academy, a rare organization to withhold endorsement until it was able to study each candidates' proposals, weighed in on the perceived capabilities of the two proposals, ultimately endorsing MLCI ‘upon careful consideration of both submissions.’ The Academy noted that MLCI’s 'submission embodies a thoughtful, meticulous, and comprehensive approach,' concluding that it was 'best equipped to satisfy' the duties of the MMA.”
The Copyright Office then followed the Academy’s lead, concluding that “[f]or somewhat similar reasons, the Copyright Office concludes that MLCI is better equipped to operationalize the many statutory functions required by the MMA.”
Earlier, the Final Rule notes the Academy’s specific interest in ensuring that the MLC conducts robust matching of song data with unclaimed funds, highlighting that the “Recording Academy urged the Register to seek further information on MLCI’s commitments to match works and on when such commitments may reasonably be exhausted.”
The Copyright Office affirms the preeminence of reliable data matching and the Final Rule details the commitments and assurances provided by the MLCI to accomplish that goal. The Office also establishes its interpretation of the MMA that unclaimed accrued royalties may be held beyond the statutory holding period until such funds are matched to the appropriate owners. Accordingly, unclaimed royalties can be released and distributed by the MLC no sooner than January 2023, but they can also be held longer to facilitate continued matching.
The Office also calls out the importance of a game plan for outreach from the MLC to make sure that every songwriter is fully informed about the new entity and its importance. Outreach to the songwriter community was also a key issue in the Academy's recommendations.
"The Recording Academy asserts that 'without an effective outreach program, the Collective will not succeed,'" the rule reads. "While noting that both proposals contain information regarding public outreach, the Recording Academy suggests that both are insufficiently detailed with respect to clear and executable plans, and how each will measure the effectiveness of outreach. The Office questioned each candidate about specific plans and metrics in subsequent meetings."
The Copyright Office has designated entities to serve as the mechanical licensing collective and the digital licensee coordinator under the Music Modernization Act. https://t.co/8TSg9i8qfC— US Copyright Office (@CopyrightOffice) July 5, 2019
Ultimately, the Copyright Office was satisfied by the answers provided by MLCI in response to the questions the Academy put forward for consideration. Recording Academy chief industry government and member relations officer Daryl Friedman thanked those involved in the decision making for considering the Academy's stance and input. "The Recording Academy congratulates the MLC, Inc. on its selection to run the new Collective, and thanks the Copyright Office for its diligence in its selection process that reflects attentiveness to the Academy’s comments," Friedman said. "The Academy now looks forward to utilizing its Chapters and thousands of members to assist the MLC in songwriter outreach to ensure the Collective’s success."
The MLC's success is important for everyone in the music community, but especially the songwriters who deserve fair, transparent compensation for their work. With the MLCI now primed to take over this significant role in implementing the MMA, the Academy stands ready to continue to leverage its community of music creators to support building a better system for all.
A Letter To Our Recording Academy Members And To Our Colleagues In The Music Industry
Read a letter from the Academy's Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees is attuned to the calls to action that have resonated ever since the 60th GRAMMY Awards. We recognize the impact of the unfortunate choice of words from our President/CEO, Neil Portnow, in a post-GRAMMY interview. In the many letters and statements that we and our Board have received from some of our most respected artists, as well as prominent female and male music business executives, the message is clear: Our Academy and our industry must do a better job honoring and demonstrating our commitment to cultural, gender and genre diversity, in all aspects of our work.
The Recording Academy is a membership organization, first and foremost. Like all Academy members, our Trustees live and breathe music, and are embedded in the fabric of our industry. Our Board members - many of whom are women - include independent artists, songwriters, touring musicians, producers and engineers, visual and audio entrepreneurs, A&R executives, and music publishers. Our Vice Chair and former Chair/Chair Emeritus are women, and our National Awards and Nominations, Membership, Advocacy, and Producers & Engineers Wing Steering committees are all chaired or co-chaired by women. We honor the Academy, and we expect nothing less in return than strict adherence to musical excellence, an inclusive and diverse philosophy, meaningful outreach and communication, a purity of purpose, and an eagerness to embrace change as our musical culture and society evolve
The Academy’s commitment to our community resonates far beyond the nominations, winners and performers on the GRAMMY Awards. MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum Foundation, and our Advocacy presence in Washington, D.C., speak to how much we care about all the people in our music family, whether they are Academy members or not. Our 12 Chapters nurture new generations of professionals in recording and business, and mentor Governors on our local boards to ally themselves with the issues they are most passionate about. At the heart of what we do, there is mutual respect and the belief that each of us has something unique and valuable to offer. The more diverse we are as an Academy, the better equipped we are to champion our members and our community.
The GRAMMY Awards have always been a positive and negative flashpoint and will likely continue to be because of the ever-changing nature of our world. We are constantly striving to reflect genre, gender, and ethnic diversity in our categories and fields. We welcome proposals from our members to make changes, and we debate all worthy ideas at an annual meeting dedicated solely to this purpose. Likewise, we have worked hard to ensure that our eligibility requirements reflect changing distribution methods. The advent of online voting and the ability to offer audio streams of nominated titles has been designed to make the voting experience convenient, while not compromising security.
The Academy is a thriving, fluid environment. It has a powerful agenda to do good work intended to improve the lives of those who create music, and to ensure that we respectfully participate in a culture where creativity can flourish. We look to our industry partners to provide opportunities for music creators to maintain their professional careers. We embrace the idea that with the help and support of dedicated artists and professionals, we will undertake a fresh, honest appraisal of the role of women in all aspects of our Academy and the industry at large, with the hope of inspiring positive change.
Our Board of Trustees is committed to creating a comprehensive task force that will take a deep look at these issues and make material recommendations on how we can all do better. We are pleased that our task force announcement has been well received, with many people offering to participate in work that will yield tangible results. As we continue to take the appropriate time needed to ensure that this action is well-conceived and properly developed, we ask you to remember what this is about: improving our community and creating opportunity for all. If we achieve this goal, we will all look back at this moment as one that has helped reshape the fabric of our industry.
Please be assured that the Executive Committee and our Board of Trustees holds all the Academy’s leadership to the highest standards. We respect and deeply appreciate the opinions of the artists and industry leaders who have spoken up since the GRAMMY Awards. We cherish the trust that you have in the Recording Academy, and pledge to honor this transformational moment of gender equality as we continue to recognize musical excellence, advocate for the well-being of music makers, and ensure that music remains an indelible part of our culture.
The Executive Committee on behalf of the Board of Trustees
The Recording Academy
Ledisi (L) & MC Lyte (R)
Ledisi PHOTO CREDIT: COURTESY OF Artist / MC LYTE PHOTO CREDIT: D'ANDRE MICHAEL
Black Music Collective Podcast: Watch Ledisi Discuss Her Journey In Music As An Independent Artist
In the latest episode of the "Black Music Collective Podcast," GRAMMY-winning artist Ledisi talks through her journey in music on a road that hasn't always been easy and how she's remained true to who she is as an artist
In the latest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast," a new podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble, host and two-time GRAMMY nominee MC Lyte chats with powerhouse vocalist Ledisi, one of the greatest singers of her generation.
Throughout her distinguished career, Ledisi has garnered an impressive list of accolades, including three Soul Train Music Awards, a NAACP Theater Award and six NAACP Image Award nominations. Most recently, Ledisi received two LA Stage Alliance Ovation Award nominations, including Best Featured Actress in a Musical. This year, she received her first GRAMMY Award, for Best Traditional R&B Performance for her hit song, "Anything for You," at the 63rd GRAMMY Awards this past March. (She counts 13 career GRAMMY nominations overall.)
Born in New Orleans and reared in Oakland, California, Ledisi has wowed fans with her unparalleled vocals ever since she burst onto the scene. She is a beloved favorite among fellow musical and cultural icons, including the Obama family, the late Prince, Patti LaBelle, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, and so many others.
An influential figure within the Recording Academy family, Ledisi was elected President of the Recording Academy's Los Angeles Chapter this year.
Listen to Ledisi talk through her journey in music on a road that hasn't always been easy and learn how she has remained true to who she is as an artist in the newest episode of the "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" above.
About The Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast:
The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" is a six-part podcast series presented by Procter & Gamble. Hosted by MC Lyte, the series includes various members of the Recording Academy's Black Music Collective (BMC), a group of prominent Black music creators and professionals who share the common goal of amplifying Black voices within the Academy and beyond, who discuss their contributions and impact within the community and the music industry at large.
The "Recording Academy x EBONY: Black Music Collective Podcast" streams every Thursday at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT through July 29 on EBONY.com and EBONY's YouTube channel and Facebook page, as well as on GRAMMY.com/BlackMusicCollectivePodcast and the Recording Academy's official Facebook page and YouTube channel.
GRAMMYs On The Hill Honorees Named
Legendary artist and producer Quincy Jones — 27-time GRAMMY winner and The Recording Academy's ambassador for its 50th Celebration — will headline a day of music advocacy as part of The Academy's GRAMMYs on The Hill activities in the nation's
Quincy Jones, Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Marsha Blackburn to be saluted
Legendary artist and producer Quincy Jones — 27-time GRAMMY winner and The Recording Academy's ambassador for its 50th Celebration — will headline a day of music advocacy as part of The Academy's GRAMMYs on The Hill activities in the nation's capital on Sept. 5, it was announced today by The Recording Academy.
Events will include a unique afternoon jam session with GRAMMY-winning artist Keb' Mo' and members of Congress. Later that evening at an awards gala, Jones will be honored for his lifelong contributions to American music, and honorees Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) will be recognized for their legislative support of the arts and music creators.
Among the luminaries joining Keb' Mo' to salute the honorees will be four-time GRAMMY winner and Recording Academy Chair Jimmy Jam, Academy President Neil Portnow, nine-time GRAMMY winner Ray Benson (of Asleep At The Wheel), "Godfather of Go-Go" Chuck Brown, GRAMMY-winning songwriter Brett James ("Jesus Take The Wheel"), country superstar John Rich (of Big & Rich), four-time GRAMMY winner BeBe Winans and seven-time GRAMMY winner CeCe Winans.
"GRAMMYs on the Hill connects top music makers — from singers and songwriters to producers and engineers — with members of Congress in Washington to shed light on the effect music has in enriching our lives," said Portnow. "This year, as part of our 50th Celebration activities, we will highlight the importance of music preservation and education so that it continues to thrive in our culture for years to come."
Throughout the day, more than 120 music professionals from across the country will come to Washington to speak to legislators about promoting policies that improve the environment for music and its makers. Earlier in the day on Capitol Hill, the GRAMMY Foundation will showcase its programs with a special performance by Keb' Mo', who will jam with members of the Recording Arts and Sciences Congressional Caucus (the "Congressional GRAMMY Band" — a group of musician members of Congress who have informally jammed at previous Academy advocacy events) in the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room on Capitol Hill.
That evening, GRAMMYs on the Hill will move to the ballroom of the Willard Inter-Continental Hotel for its 7th annual gala dinner where The Recording Academy will honor Jones, Sen. Kennedy and Rep. Blackburn. Chesnee High School of South Carolina will receive the GRAMMY Foundation's Signature School Award and Scholarship for its outstanding commitment to music education.