US industry’s black box has ‘several hundred million dollars’


One of the first jobs for the new Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) in the US, once it’s properly up and running, will be to distribute ‘black box’ revenue.

That’s the royalties due to publishers and songwriters which have not been paid out because the works were ‘unmatched’ – streams of recordings where the songwriter and/or publisher metadata was missing.

But how big is that black box? Pretty big, as it turns out.

The Music Technology Policy blog has been combing through filings from the Digital Licensee Coordinator (DLC), which represents the streaming services in all this.

Based on what it admits is a “limited survey” of its members, it reported that “several hundred million dollars were available to be transferred to the MLC as accrued royalties, even after accounting for the derecognition of accruals based on preexisting agreements containing releases to claims for accrued royalties”.

Quite the pot. The task now is to make sure it’s divided fairly.

Stuart Dredge

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