Mechanical Licensing Collective Announces Leadership Post, Data Portal Vendors

The Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) announced that former Digital Data Exchange (DDEX) Chair Richard Thompson will serve as the nonprofit’s Chief Information Officer responsible for overseeing the development and launch of the MLC’s revolutionary data platform to distribute royalties payable to songwriters and copyright owners. Thompson had been serving in an interim capacity for the MLC since February 2019.

MLC Board Chair Alisa Coleman said, “Creating a single platform capable of handling a blanket mechanical license that will pay royalties to all songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers is a monumental effort that has never before been undertaken in the United States. To help guide this initiative, the Board takes great pleasure in formally appointing Richard Thompson as CIO. Richard’s impressive experience in building the technology behind Kobalt, as well as his past role as chair of DDEX and his participation in the international music metadata standards group for nearly a decade, make him the ideal person to drive the development of the MLC’s platform.”

The MLC also named some of the vendors that will support the creation of the public database, which, as directed by the Music Modernization Act (MMA), will contain critical copyright information on all musical works and will launch on Jan. 1, 2021.

Technology company ConsenSys and mechanical licensing administrator Harry Fox Agency (HFA) received unanimous approval from the MLC Board to become the primary vendors responsible for managing the matching of digital uses to musical works, distributing mechanical royalties, and onboarding songwriters, composers, lyricists, and music publishers and their catalogs to the database.

Thompson said, “Knowing that we would be operating with tight deadlines proscribed under the new law, we began a rigorous review process of potential vendors to build our infrastructure well before we were tapped by the Copyright Office to be the official mechanical licensing collective. In fact, since last November when the Request for Proposals process began, the MLC has invested thousands of hours investigating the options to create the core technology and public interface that will comply with the less than seventeen-month implementation timeline and specific directives of the Music Modernization Act.”

Over a dozen technology companies participated in an intensive RFI/RFP evaluation process that began in November 2018. Those companies were asked to provide comprehensive information regarding their U.S. business, user platforms, matching, administration and royalty distribution processes, and technological capabilities in response to the RFI and then, for a narrowed group of vendors, to the RFP. The MLC required vendor finalists to engage in extensive data matching testing before making final partner decisions.

Thompson said, “The MLC needs a proven, end-to-end licensing, matching, and royalty processing system that can go live on Jan. 1, 2021. After completing a rigorous evaluation process, HFA in collaboration with ConsenSys is the clear choice to ensure that the MLC has a solid platform to deliver on its mission. These vendors will successfully help the MLC deliver not only what is required under the MMA, but also improve the overall mechanical licensing process in the United States.”

The MLC has also selected global consulting firm Prophet to create the portal’s user interface, ensuring the database is accessible and easy to use for the wide variety of individuals and businesses expected to access the system. Additionally, the MLC is working closely with the DDEX to design interface(s) to access the data that will be included in the public database. The MLC expects to make additional vendor announcements in the coming months for other project phases.

“The MLC Board reviewed several strong competitors in the marketplace before choosing our partners for this unprecedented and truly revolutionary project,” Coleman said. “We are confident these companies are best positioned to help the MLC efficiently deliver a high-quality, responsive platform that can serve today’s songwriters and music community while also preparing for developing areas of digital music use to ensure that the systems that are being built today can expand to accommodate the ever-changing landscape.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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