Apple Pays $163.34 Million in Licensing Fees for Songwriters and Publishers

The Mechanical Licensing Collective today announced (via Variety) that Apple and other digital service providers have paid a total of $424,384,787 in historical unmatched royalty fees.

apple music
Of that total, Apple paid $163,338,890 which was the highest fee paid out. Spotify paid $152,226,039, which marked the second highest payment. After that, Amazon paid $42,741,507, and Google paid $32,855,222. Other streaming services like Pandora, iHeart Media, SoundCloud, and Deezer paid smaller amounts.

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) that collected the funding is a nonprofit organization that was created in 2019 by the Music Modernization Act and designated by the U.S. Copyright office.

Starting in January 2021, the MLC began providing blanket licenses to eligible streaming and download services in the United States. It collects royalties due under those licenses and then pays them out to songwriters, music publishers, and others to make sure creators are receiving the proper funds for their work. Prior to now, song-by-song licensing was used, making it difficult for streaming services to deliver the proper royalties to all those involved in a song's creation.

The back fees that were paid by streaming companies in January and February are related to the Music Modernization Act's limitation on liability for past infringement. Songwriters, music publishers, composers, and others have long struggled to be paid by streaming music services, which the MLC is meant to address. Music streaming providers also sent data linking royalties to creators, and the MLC's job will be to review and analyze the data provided by the streaming music companies to find and pay the proper copyright holders.

Songwriters, composers, music publishers, and others will be able to register with the MLC to receive the payments that they're owed. The MLC will begin sending out payments in April.

A total of 20 DSPs separately transferred accrued historical unmatched royalties to The MLC as required in order for them to seek the MMA's limitation on liability for past infringement. In addition to the accrued unmatched royalties transferred to The MLC, the DSPs concerned also delivered more than 1,800 data files, which contain in excess of 1.3 terabytes and nine billion lines of data.

The transfer of these monies represents the culmination of a months-long effort on the part of The MLC and these DSPs to develop and implement the specifications for these usage reports. With these historical unmatched royalties and usage reports now in hand, The MLC can begin the process of reviewing and analyzing the data in order to find and pay the proper copyright owners.

Going forward, music providers like Apple are required to send the MLC monthly usage data on streaming content along with the corresponding royalties, which the MLC will dole out. For unmatched royalties, the MLC maintains a database that creators can search to see if they're due missing money.

Top Rated Comments

farewelwilliams Avatar
40 months ago
Apple Music has less paying subscribers, yet paying more royalties than Spotify.

Spotify is scummy.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
technicalFoozle Avatar
40 months ago
"$163,338,890 million" That is a lot of millions!

I'm pretty sure the word "million" is redundant after the number. I say this because for a moment I was very confused at how much they paid not to grammar-shame. I referred back to the headline for clarity.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cjboffoli97 Avatar
40 months ago
Man. Imagine if companies like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest had to pay a compulsory license for all of the images that are posted to their respective sites (by third parties that don't own or have permission to use the work). Visual artists might have an improved chance at making a living instead of those companies simply profiting from the broad exploitation.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
travelsheep Avatar
40 months ago
When an artists gets a DIRECT payment from CUSTOMER TO ARTIST of e.g. $ 100 after processing fees and taxes she can be lucky to net $ 60 or $ 70. For these umbrella deals with the big managers and houses and management fees and what not I guess that crumbles down to merely a few dollars after taxes, even for the biggest musicians.

We customers are getting screwed over too. When I send money to an artist I want my hard earned cash to go to the artist, not to some ultra-rich man-in-the-middle attackers.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hoodafoo Avatar
40 months ago
I'm guessing $163 million translates to a couple extra quarters in artists royalty checks next month?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
genovelle Avatar
40 months ago

It's fine. I don't see any reason that because someone is a musician they are entitled to more money than the rest of us.
What are you creating that adds value to the world? If you have intellectual property you also deserve to be compensated accordingly.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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